With so many new restaurants opening up that serve Nashville-style chicken, one might wonder if there is room for a different flavor.
Makers of Korean-style fried chicken think there is.
“I definitely think Korean fried chicken is going to be something that’s a household name and take over like Nashville fried chicken,” said Christina Hong, owner of Seoulmates, a new restaurant in Los Angeles.
Bulghoagie is a signature menu item at Seoulmates in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Seoulmates)
Seoulmates is a new restaurant near Beverly Center in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Seoulmates)
- (Video) Korean Fried Chicken Wings - Crispy, Spicy, Sticky Wings from Heaven! | Wok Wednesdays
Seoulmates in Los Angeles specializes in Korean fusion menu items. (Photo courtesy of Seoulmates)
Bonchon is a growing restaurant chain in Southern California. (Photo courtesy of Bonchon)
A lunch combo at Bonchon includes soy garlic and spicy chicken wings and a side of coleslaw. (Photo by Fielding Buck, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Korean chicken wings are a specialty of the Bonchon restaurant chain. (Photo courtesy of Bonchon.)
Fans of Korean chicken say it’s incredibly crispy and lighter than American style. It is fried low heat, cooled, and then fried again at a higher temperature.
“It makes the outside really craveable and crunchy and keeps the inside really moist,” said Flynn Dekker, chief executive officer of Bonchon, a growing chain that serves chicken and other Asian dishes.
Here and there
Korean chicken doesn’t have the same penetration as Nashville chicken in Southern California, but it isn’t new. According to Dekker, it dates from the 1950s.
“Fried chicken went over to Korea during the Korean War. They put their own spin on it, and now it’s coming back. It started here, went there and now it’s come back in a new, different form.”
It can be found in neighborhoods such as Koreatown, a few blocks between Western and Vermont avenues in Los Angeles, and in places where foodies gather, such as food halls and food trucks. In Riverside County, where home kitchens can be licensed, it is served out of people’s homes.
South Korea is reported to have 36,000 fried chicken restaurants, and a few of them have crossed over. Pelicana Chicken, founded in 1982 in Daejeon, has what it calls a flagship store in Buena Park. Other locations are in Los Angeles, Artesia, Downey, the City of Industry and Rancho Cucamonga.
Related: South Korean fried chicken chain Mom’s Touch to open second U.S. location in Long Beach
Bonchon was founded in 2002 in Busan, where it maintains a global kitchen. Dekker said the garlic soy and spicy sauces it uses to baste its chicken are still made there.
The brand came to the United States in 2006. It began as full service but began opening smaller fast casual restaurants as well in 2021.
The chain is in growth mode. It has 386 restaurants worldwide. More than 115 locations are in the United States, according to Bonchon’s latest financial report in July. It plans to open 120 more.
In opening new restaurants, the chain follows what Dekker called an “inside out strategy.”
“We start at the urban center and then we can work our way out into the suburbs.”
Most of Bonchon’s 23 California restaurants are in the Bay Area. In Southern California, it has locations in San Gabriel, Artesia, Fountain Valley and Costa Mesa. Dekker said it is planning on opening more.
“We have several stores scheduled to be built in Los Angeles County. We need to develop more in Riverside County. We’re having conversations with some folks there. Over the coming years, we’ll continue to fill out on the East and West coasts, but we’re really focused now on developing the Midwest.”
In July’s report, Bonchon stated its year-over-year sales increased 12 percent.
Chicken restaurants in general are doing well. According to research firm IBISWorld, fast food chicken franchises are a $40.6 billion industry and expected to grow 4.5 percent in 2022.
Bonchon added crunchy chicken bowls to its menu nationwide in mid-August, saying in a news release, “There is something for every chicken lover to enjoy at our restaurants.”
Wherever Bonchon goes in the United States, there’s a taste for the product, Dekker said.
“At the end of the day we serve a comfort food that Americans are comfortable with and enjoy, fried chicken. I don’t know too many people who don’t like that. On top of that, we’ve really taken it to another level, if you will.”
Part of the Korean Wave
There is more to these restaurants than chicken.
Other Korean dishes are finding their way onto American menus, such as rice bowls called bibimbap; fermented vegetables called kimchi; and bulgogi, thinly sliced marinated beef that Bonchon serves it as a main dish with rice and in wraps, soup and sliders.
Bolgogi helped Christina Hong of Seoulmates establish her business. She serves a fusion sandwich called a Bulghoagie.
“It has the sweet-savory flavor to it. Then it has provolone on top, wonton crisps for that nice crunch and texture and then the kimchi remoulade for that sour sweentess, and then a pickled cucumber. And then slaw just kind of ties it together.”
Hong also serves bulgogi as well as fried chicken and short ribs in tacos, which she said gives familiar foods a Korean twist.
“I like to use the tagline ‘Korean barbecue in a taco.’ I think that’s the most simplified way to put it. You have a lot of rich flavors with those Korean meats.”
Hong is from Chicago. She was introduced to the restaurant industry when her parents, who are Korean immigrants, opened a Charleys Philly Steaks franchise. She came to Los Angeles to open her own restaurant, only to be slowed down by the novel coronavirus pandemic. But she started a pop-up called Bulghoagie that was able to provide food service on the patios of bars in Glendale and West Hollywood during lockdown.
Now she has her own space near the Beverly Center, where she said her Korean fusion menu stands out.
“I eat Korean food pretty regularly, but in order to do that a lot of times I either had to order from K-Town or go all the way to K-Town. I live five minutes away from the restaurant. There aren’t any other Korean spaces around here. I do know that it’s very commercialized, where it’s something that people are looking for.”
Bonchon links the popularity of Korean food to the global rise of South Korean pop culture. The phenomenon is called hallyu, or Korean Wave. It can be seen in the popularity of bands such as BTS and Blackpink; the Emmy-nominated Netflix series “Squid Game“; and “Parasite,” which in 2020 became the first foreign language film to win an Oscar for best picture.
Korean pop culture has its own convention, KCON, recently held at Crypo.com Arena in Los Angeles before a U.S. tour.
“I definitely think it’s Korean culture foods’ time to shine,” said Hong. “It’s honestly crazy to think how much things have evolved. … I was surprised how many people knew what bulgogi was.”
Bonchon is focused on international growth, not just the United States.
“We opened up Australia just this past year. We’ll open up France this year. And then we will start filling in the rest of the company and ultimately moving into Mexico and beyond,” Dekker said.
“It’s this really meaningful, purposeful intent of South Korea to import culture. You’ve got movies, TV and music. We feel like the sky’s the limit as far as we can go, and part of it is we have this wave of culture following behind us.”
Where: 8320 W. Third St., Los Angeles
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Why are there so many fried chicken shops in Korea? ›
Jeong Eun-jeong, author of the book The Tale of Chicken in the Republic of Korea, says these restaurants exploded onto the scene 20 years ago, following the devastating Asian financial crisis, when many Korean men lost their jobs. “A lot of these middle-aged men opened chicken franchises at that time,” she says.What makes Korean fried chicken special? ›
So what makes Korean fried chicken so different from its American counterpart? While its American cousin is usually brined and dredged in a flour and buttermilk mixture, Korean fried chicken tends to be more light and crispy with a thin, almost paper-like skin that is not heavily battered.What is the most popular fried chicken in Korea? ›
According to a survey in South Korea in 2020, Kyochon was the most popular Korean fried chicken brand among Millennials and Gen Z in South Korea with 43.2 brand power index (BPI) points. BHC, BBQ, and Koobne formed the second tier of popular chicken brands with BPI scores in the thirties.Is fried chicken cheap in Korea? ›
In South Korea fried chicken is considered an affordable snack that should be within reach of the middle and working classes.What is Korean fried chicken called? ›
Therefore, yangnyeom chicken (양념치킨) means "seasoned fried chicken" in Korean. Unseasoned fried chicken is called dakgogi-twigim (닭고기 튀김; chicken meat fritter) or fried chicken (프라이드치킨). Outside Korea, yangnyeom chicken is known as Korean fried chicken.Why do Koreans eat fried chicken with beer? ›
With the introduction of cooking oil in Korea in 1971, chicken and oil were plentiful, which created an environment where people could eat more chicken. At this time, chicken and beer were sold together, which eventually led to the creation of chimaek.How do restaurants get their chicken so crispy? ›
The secret is double-frying the chicken… yes, frying it twice. By cooking the poultry initially in moderately controlled oil, 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, you make sure to fully cook the chicken without burning the outside coating.Is Korean fried chicken healthier? ›
While American-style fried chicken usually consists of a thick, browned, well-seasoned crust with flabby, moist meat, Korean-style fried chicken often comes across as healthier and less fatty.Why is Korean fried chicken so crispy? ›
Korean fried chicken is super crispy due to the addition of potato starch in its batter and double frying the chicken. This second fry also boils off the extra moisture in the chicken after the first fry. Korean fried chicken is known to stay extra crispy for an extended period of time, even with a glaze!How much does Korean Fried Chicken cost in Korea? ›
Price range between 14,000 to 20,000 Won (SGD16. 90 – 24.15). While fried chicken is generally still the more popular choice, they have managed to carved out a specialty in roast chicken – popular with younger customer base, and those who want supposedly lower calorie meal.
How do you say chicken in Korean? ›
How to Say "Chicken" in Korean - YouTubeHow much does chicken cost in South Korea? ›
As of December 2021, the retail price of one kilogram of chicken in South Korea amounted to 5,090 South Korean won.Do Koreans eat a lot of chicken? ›
According to statistics quoted in the Korea Times, Koreans will eat 12 chickens per year each, representing 600 million dead birds across the country.Why is it called 24 chicken? ›
They initially set out to be a 24-hour delivery spot, hence the name—though this is not the case right now given the pandemic. They opened their first shop along Leon Guinto Street in 2017.Who taught Koreans fried chicken? ›
Kish, who is Korean, added, “Korean fried chicken is by far the best fried chicken on the face of the earth.” “And do you know why?” Brown asked Kish. “Because it was taught to Korean cooks by African American GIs after the World War.”What is the best flavor for Korean chicken? ›
The sauce. Sweet soy, honey butter, spicy garlic – Korean fried chicken comes in many flavours, but my favourite is what is variously described as “sweet, sour and spicy”, “sweet and spicy chilli” and “spicy Asian”, a sticky-sweet yet intensely savoury sauce in which the heat can be adjusted to taste.What is pork called in Korean? ›
The word for pork in Korean is 돼지고기 (dwaejigogi).How is Korean chicken different? ›
Korean-style fried chicken is radically different, reflecting an Asian frying technique that renders out the fat in the skin, transforming it into a thin, crackly and almost transparent crust.What oil does KFC fry their chicken in? ›
No, Kentucky Fried Chicken does not use peanut oil. They are dedicated to being able to offer food for as many consumers as possible by looking to avoid a few of the most common food allergies, including peanuts. Instead, the fast-food chain uses canola oil and hydrogenated soybean oil.Does KFC fry their chicken? ›
How Kentucky Fried Chicken Is Made (from Unwrapped) | Food Network
Is learning Korean hard? ›
Although Korean might be ranked as one of the more difficult languages to learn by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it is by no means impossible. So don't worry about the “hours” it takes to learn Korean. You can learn Korean fast — and you may even already know more Korean than you think!Is Korean food high in sodium? ›
Korea shows the highest salt consumption in the world. While the sodium consumed by people from Western countries mainly comes from processed foods, most Koreans consume nearly half of the total sodium through their traditional diet (Lee, 2009; Moon et al., 2009; The Korean Nutrition Society, 2005), including kimchi.When did fried chicken become popular in Korea? ›
According to Houstonia, the first Korean fried chicken franchise was Lims Chicken, which opened in the basement of a department store in Seoul back in 1977. The restaurant proved so successful that it became the country's first fried chicken franchise.What does Soaking chicken in milk do? ›
The calcium in milk is thought to kick-start a natural enzyme in the chicken that helps it tenderize. It also breaks up the acidity and heat. (That's true for non-dairy milk, like coconut milk, too.) As an added bonus, the milk creates a creamy sauce that will keep a roast chicken even juicier.Can you reheat Korean fried chicken? ›
However, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the Korean fried chicken (for up to a day), then reheat in the oven (covered) for 10-15 minutes at 190C/380F, until piping hot throughout.Is fried chicken popular in Korea? ›
By 2013 there were more than 20,000 fried chicken restaurants in South Korea serving fried chicken and by 2017, 36,000. Almost a third of the chicken consumed in South Korea is fried; Smithsonian calls it a "ubiquitous staple".What does BHC stand for chicken? ›
BHC Chicken or “Better & Happier Choice” is one of most popular Korean Fried Chicken chains, having opened over 1,000 stores since 2004.What is Prinkle chicken? ›
Prinkle. Crispy fried chicken with cheese and spice seasoning sprinkled on top with emmental cheese and yogurt dipping sauce.How do you say baby in Korean? ›
5 ways to say "baby" in Korean - YouTubeHow do you say cat in Korean? ›
The word for 'cat' is 고양이 (goyangi) in Korean! It's three syllables, but it's actually quite simple to pronounce. Bonus good news: The word for 'cat', 고양이 (goyangi), can also be used to mean kittens!
What does Dak Dak mean in Korean? ›
The word for chicken in Korean is very easy to learn. Let's start of with the word '닭' (dak). This is mainly used to describe the animal itself and certain dishes that are chicken-based. So for example if you actually saw a live chicken, you would use this word.What is the average salary in Korea? ›
According to the National Tax Statistics Annual Report 2020 issued by the National Tax Service on December 29, 2020, the per capita annual salary of Korean workers in 2020 was 37.91 million won (approx. 34,400 USD), which is not far off from the average salary in 2019 of 37.44 million won (approx. 34,000 USD).How much is a can of Coke in Korea? ›
Cost of Living in South Korea.
|Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)||1,776.15₩|
|Water (12 oz small bottle)||922.47₩|
|Food||Price in ₩|
|1 kg (2 lb.) of apples||7.50 KRW|
|1 bottle of red table wine, good quality||48.95 KRW|
|2.5 liters of Coca-Cola||0.95 KRW|
|1 Bread loaf standard||9.50 KRW|
A typical Korean breakfast is not that much different than the other meals of the day, except maybe a bit on the lighter side (or with fewer banchan, or side dishes). Rice, a small bowl of soup or stew, and any number of banchan would typically make up the first meal of the day.What is the most consumed meat in Korea? ›
Pork was the most popular meat last year, with national consumption totaling 1.08 million tonnes, followed by chicken at 608,000 tonnes and beef at 488,000 tonnes.Do Koreans eat insects? ›
Insect-eating, or entomophagy, has long been common in much of the world, including South Korea, where boiled silky worm pupae, or beondegi, are a popular snack.How many calories is Korean fried chicken? ›
How many calories are in a piece of Korean fried chicken? A piece of Korean fried chicken has between 300 and 500 calories, depending on whether it's white or dark meat. A serving of a couple of pieces averages about 830 calories.How many pieces of chicken are in a 24 piece chicken? ›
Love 24 Chicken Delivery Manila
And if your group aren't voracious eaters, each of you can enjoy seven pieces each. By the way, despite 24 Chicken Delivery Manila's name, they don't deliver Korean fried chicken 24/7.
There are 258 calories in 5 ounces of boneless, skinless Fried Chicken Breast No Coating (Skin Not Eaten). * The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet.
Did African Americans teach Koreans to cook chicken? ›
Korean fried chicken is by far the best fried chicken on the face of the earth,” Kish said before Brown served up a quick backstory. “And do you know why?” he asked Kish. “Because it was taught to Korean cooks by African American GIs after the World War.”What was Korea before Korea? ›
Goguryeo (also spelled as Koguryŏ) was also known as Goryeo (also spelled as Koryŏ), and it eventually became the source of the modern name of Korea.Where was Korean fried chicken invented? ›
According to Houstonia, the first Korean fried chicken franchise was Lims Chicken, which opened in the basement of a department store in Seoul back in 1977. The restaurant proved so successful that it became the country's first fried chicken franchise.What is Soonsal chicken? ›
Soonsal Padak. is Korean style fried chicken with sliced shallot on top with drizzled special sauce🍗🍺Who invented fried chicken? ›
English cook Hannah Glasse had the first published fried chicken recipe in 1747.How did fried chicken get to Asia? ›
SO HOW DID FRIED CHICKEN MAKE ITS WAY TO ASIA? First introduced to American-style fried chicken during the Korean war between 1950 to 1953, Koreans took a while to warm up to the idea of eating fried chicken.When did fried chicken become popular? ›
As a legitimate fast food, Southern-style fried chicken began spreading its wings globally in the 1970s, and KFC's influence was huge. Wherever the franchise landed, it often gave people in other countries their first taste of Southern-style fried chicken.How do you say chicken in Korean? ›
How to Say "Chicken" in Korean - YouTubeWhy is it called 24 chicken? ›
They initially set out to be a 24-hour delivery spot, hence the name—though this is not the case right now given the pandemic. They opened their first shop along Leon Guinto Street in 2017.What is the meaning of buldak? ›
Buldak (불닭) or fire chicken is a heavily spiced, barbecued chicken dish. The literal meaning of the name is "fire chicken", where bul means "fire" and dak translates to "chicken."
How many calories is Korean fried chicken? ›
How many calories are in a piece of Korean fried chicken? A piece of Korean fried chicken has between 300 and 500 calories, depending on whether it's white or dark meat. A serving of a couple of pieces averages about 830 calories.What state is famous for fried chicken? ›
A state known for fried chicken, Kentucky's reputation extends much further than colonel's famous buckets sold around the world. With two locations in Louisville, Royals Hot Chicken is a top spot for fried chicken cooked your way, whether that's classic Southern-style or Nashville hot.What is different about Korean fried chicken? ›
Korean-style fried chicken is radically different, reflecting an Asian frying technique that renders out the fat in the skin, transforming it into a thin, crackly and almost transparent crust.What is the difference between fried chicken and Southern fried chicken? ›
What is the difference between fried chicken and Southern fried chicken? Southern fried chicken and fried chicken are the exact same thing.Is fried chicken healthy? ›
Although chicken can certainly fit into a healthy diet, some types are loaded with extra calories, fat, or sodium. Here are a few types of chicken that you should limit or avoid: Fried chicken. Because it's typically deep-fried and breaded, fried chicken is usually high in calories, carbs, and unhealthy fats ( 11 ).Who taught Koreans fried chicken? ›
Kish, who is Korean, added, “Korean fried chicken is by far the best fried chicken on the face of the earth.” “And do you know why?” Brown asked Kish. “Because it was taught to Korean cooks by African American GIs after the World War.”