Checking in on Kyochon Hype

Kyochon in Koreatown scored a "Best of" in the LA Weekly for "Best Fried Chicken." Being a fan of the most soulful of the soul food variety, I felt obliged to check up on the situation.

LA Weekly reported, "It has become evident in the last year that Korean fried chicken really is an evolutionary leap forward — marinated in a cabinet full of spices, saturated with garlic, double-fried to a shattering, thin-skinned snap dramatic enough to wake a sleeping baby in an adjoining room."

And then I tried it. WOW. Their spicy chicken is garlicky, lemony, lip-smacking and intense, but it should come with a warning label. Unlike the milder spicy verson of the Popeye's variety, those fiery red drumsticks will straight clear your sinuses. Kyochon serves crisped rice chicken strips, a light, fried chicken breast crusted over with salty Rice Krispies. It was nice, but tame. The cereal crust is more gimmick than a flavor enhancer. With such ingenuity with their batters, you'd think that their dipping sauces wouldn't be poured from giant Smart and Final-type gallons of sauce. But they are. Their spicy Chicken with Rice Cake dish gave us a dose of vegetables with our protein-heavy meal. Spring onions, chewy tubes of rice cake and chicken were stir-fried in a scarlet-hued garlic-laden pepper sauce. It was a dish worthy of the most high-end of Korean BBQ establishments that side of Hancock Park.

While a restaurant has yet to trump my favorite fried chicken, Popeyes (simmer down KFCers!)I'm not quite finished with Kyochon yet. People on Yelp are raving about the Garlic Soy Chicken, using one word and one word only to describe it - addicting. Besides, I like their service. The waitstaff swings by only when you push the big button sitting on the edge of your table. They're like friendly, fried chicken-wielding robots.

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