My home neighborhood of Koreatown goes through very noticeable food trends. A few years ago it was boba tea. A boba shop opened up on every corner and every place in town, except maybe Carl's Jr., started serving boba. Then, last year, it was the tart yogurt craze started by Pinkberry. All those boba places in local stripmalls were replaced by yogurt shops offering tart yogurt with a variety of toppings.
This year, it's fried chicken. The craze began with KyoChon, a Korean mega-chain, which opened a branch on Sixth Street. Now it seems that Korean fried chicken joints are popping up all over. These places serve large orders of chicken fried to order (which usually means a hefty wait). I was never that into boba or tart yogurt, but fried chicken is a craze I can really dig into, so over the next few months, I'll be sampling some of the local wares.
I decided to start at the beginning so I headed over to KyoChon, and I'm so happy I did. This is some of, if not the best fried chicken I've ever had. The order of choice is a whole chicken chopped in smallish pieces and fried. The pieces are perfectly fried; they have a firm, crisp crust, not a batter, and the meat is moist and juicy. The original recipe has a wonderful garlicky, salty taste and there is a minimum of fat. The small pieces increase the fried surface area, so you don't end up with big pieces (say breasts) which have a low proportion of fried surface to meat. This stuff is heavily addictive. I challenge anyone not to finish a whole box, large though it is.
We also ordered a side of hot wings. These were good as well, both sweet and spicy, and again, perfectly fried, but they paled in comparison to the amazing original recipe.
There's clearly a reason this chain has done so well in Korea, and I came away wanting to know more about it, so I took a look at their website. It was filled with helpful information about their "special taste culture filling," and proudly declares that KyoChon is a "synonym flashed upon with taste." I couldn't have said it better myself.
3833 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA
2515 Torrance Blvd.