What is it about Korean chefs and carbonation? The Corner Place evidently uses 7 Up in their Dong Chimi Gook Soo, and soda now factors into a second premium Korean dish: cola soy chicken at Korean Chicken Place.
Hyeoung Kim is a Seoul native who debuted his chicken-centric concept on a Koreatown side street in 2009, featuring BBQ, fried and spicy yardbird. He’s got a separate Special Menu of This House section with Beer Butt Chicken, Sausage Combo and a BBQ Combo. Korean Chicken House also offers side dishes like dried cuttlefish with peanuts, red snapper salad and the always popular silkworm chrysalis soup, but the reason for my return was Cola Soy Sauced Chicken.
No matter what you order, expect to eat under the watchful gazes of surrounding chicken figurines. You should also expect bottomless bowls of complimentary panchan, which might include crunchy cole slaw dressed with vinegar and chile, cubes of crunchy pickled radish, or a mix of daikon, onion, zucchini and jalapeno dressed with soy sauce. Strangely, the initial delivery didn’t include sheets of pungent, chile-slathered cabbage kimchi, but that bowl luckily arrived later.
The version of Cola Soy Chicken ($22.99) that Kim prepares at Korean Chicken Place is apparently based on a popular dish from Andong, a city in southern Korea, that’s very hard to come by in Los Angeles. The bowl could easily feed four people, with a sweet, murky, fragrant broth loaded with springy glass noodles, carrots, broccoli, cylindrical rice cakes, sweet potato chunks, onions, pine nuts and jalapenos. Pieces of dismembered and scored chicken deftly soak up sauce. Kim said that in Andong, they use even “bolder spices, bolder soy sauce,” but his version had flavor to spare.
Spicy chicken wings are the most popular dish at Korean Chicken Place, but not everybody likes spicy food, so Kim developed an alternative, which has been on the menu for three months. Only one other person at the restaurant knows the “secret recipe.” Erik Ginn, who told me about the dish’s debut, said that it’s possible to order the cola soy chicken “spicy,” which sounds even better.
Near the end of my meal, as bones began to pile up in my metal bucket, a young boy said, “Chicken’s the bad guy.” His father said, “That’s right, chicken’s the bad guy.” Based on my bowl of cola soy chicken, and after my previous encounter with Hyeoung Kim’s spicy chicken, I’d have to disagree.
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