Korean Fried Chicken all the way this Christmas, I say.
Once a Japanese told me, they love buying Kentucky Fried Chicken by the family buckets during Christmas, not because as a substitution to the turkey, but they simply thought Colonel Sanders looks like Santa Claus. But then, not just the Japanese, us Asians simply love battered, deep fried chicken whether is Malaysian Ayam Goreng, American southern fried chicken or even the Hot&Spicy zinger KFC. For me, I think Korean style Fried Chicken still reigns supreme.
What makes it Korean fried chicken? In theory, they are lightly battered or sometimes just a light coat of seasoned flour, then twice fried at different temperatures, first to render the fat off the skin, then second to make them crunchy. The fried chicken comes in a few variations, start with the original, or have them smothered in chilli or soy sauce dressing. Either way, be prepared to use your hands and have lots of refreshing towelettes ready for the messy fingers.
Searching for the best Korean Fried Chicken is a never ending quest, we can and we will track them all down one bite at a time. A recent tip off by our ringleader Helen, we follow her down to the lair where NaruOne is well hidden underground in Koreatown at Pitt Street.
Believe the good old saying, when there is good food, people will come; no matter how far or how well hidden the restaurant is. Naruone is pretty much full house when we rock up around 6pm, any later we will have to start queueing up along the steps that leads to the restaurant in the basement. A fridge right at the doorway welcomes you, it is filled with homemade kimchi assortments ready for you to take home.
I am the last one to arrive at the restaurant which saves me from making decision as the others in our group of six already made the orders. Within minutes, a portable gas burner with a big pot of Bulgogi hot pot is plonked right in front of us. A clump of beef slices are cooked slowly in the simmering sweet stock, perhaps a little too sweet. Plenty of garlic chives, enoki mushroom, wood ear, carrot and chewy rice cakes bobbing along with the meat.
The japchae here looks a little lacklustre, a very simply stir fried of potato noodle with thin slices of onion, zucchini and carrot, then topped with more garlic chives and a whole clump of enoki mushrooms on the side. The noodle is satisfyingly chewy, it is simply comfort food.
But we are not here for the noodle, we are here for the chicken!
The only kind of gold I love!
A full plate of fried chicken is enough to make one swoons in ecstasy. A quick scan around the restaurant and you will see almost every single table ordered this dish. The crust is thin and ridiculously crunchy; as soon as I take one bite, all I could hear is the crunching sound in my head that totally blocks out other noise from the surrounding. The smell of deep fried, the succulent chicken meat, the crunching sound, the goosebump and the sweat, it is truly the ultimate sensory satisfaction.
Only one plate?! Don’t be ridiculous!
Gimme, gimme… gimme gimme… MORE!
This time we go for half fried chicken and half with sweet and spicy sauce, best of both worlds. The sweet and spicy version not everyone’s best friend, while I like it just the way it is, hot but not burning; Karen seems to struggle with the heat level but somehow the Homer’s effect kicks in because she still reaches for seconds.
During my recent trip to USA, I got to try the very first and original Korean Fried Chicken that has taken over New York and the world by storm back in 2007. It is significantly different than the ones here in Sydney, it is actually not battered but simply dusted with seasoned flour. Each has its own beauty, but for now, I am more than happy to settle with another plate of this golden golden crunchy crunchy bang bang!
NaruOne Lower Ground, 375 Pitt Street, Sydney Tel: +61 (02) 9261 2680 Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am-3am Sunday to Monday 11am-10pm