Korean fried chicken, enough said.
Golden crunchy batter that shatters all over the table like confetti as I take my first bite, the first taste of a little hint of sweet soy and wasabi dressing touches the tongue leaving a tingling heat sensation, a sigh of hot steam releases from the piping hot, juicy chicken meat within; for those who wearing glasses, they will be fogging up by now and everything around you seems like a delirious blur because we are now in a new KFC heaven at The Sparrow’s Mill.
The Sparrow’s Mill is the new kid on the KFC block, just around the corner from NaruOne. Despite this restaurant has only been opened less than a month, but punters should be familiar with the menu as words got out that this is indeed a sister restaurant to the Red Pepper at Strathfield Sports Club.
My attempt of trying to make a booking at this restaurants for our party of six proven to be challenging and failed as the lady behind the phone can hardly speak English. I eventually figured out that she was trying to warn me to come in early because usually there will be a 20 minutes wait on a Friday night. From that, I assume there is no booking at this restaurant and just have to rock up early.
We aim to be at the restaurant by 6pm and it is already packed. The staffs managed to usher a couple who already seated to a smaller table at the front so they can push all tables together at the back to squeeze us in. It is hectic inside, noisy chatters, staffs are flustered trying to feed the hungry masses, almost every table is devouring a full plate of fried chickens.
Most people are here for the fried chicken, we waste no time to put our orders in as there is a 20-30 minutes wait for the fried chicken as the kitchen is slammed with back orders.
As we are about to order some beer to wash down them fried chicken, sadly to be informed that alcohol is not available. I hope is only temporary, perhaps the restaurant is still new and they are still waiting for the alcohol license to get approved. For now, is alcohol free zone. (Update: As ChocolateSuze mentioned, alcohol is actually available on the menu and comes in bottle, but just not in large keg.)
It doesn’t take long before our table is fully covered in dishes, but chicken will have to wait a little longer. We dig in the pajeon seafood pancake with glee, the thick pancake is studded with big chunks of fresh prawns, mussels and calamari among the shredded onion, carrot and shallots. I do love the caramelised crispy edges on the pancake albeit it can do a little longer on the grill as it is still doughy at parts.
Watch out as the bibimbap is served in dolsot, a hot stone pot that is still sizzling away and keeps the dish warm for a long time. This rice dish is always a pretty sight with an array of toppings neatly arranged around the bowl and topped with a gooey yolk in the middle. A saucer of gochujang hot sauce is served on the side, so one can add as much or as a little of the sauce to the dish according to one’s preference. It takes some skill to give the dish a thorough mix so you get a bit of everything on each mouthful, bean sprout, carrot, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, green leaf, slices of beef and some crusty rice from the bottom of the bowl.
“Make space, fried chicken is here!” Our table immediately has an empty spot for a massive plate of glorious Korean Fried Chicken. The spring onion chicken is still my favourite, golden pieces of fried chicken from a whole chook is stacked high then crowned with an afro of spring onion curls.
I simply can’t ignore the fact that even the soy and wasabi dressing is drizzled over the chicken strategically, only a few pieces are coated in the dressing while the remaining pieces stay crunchy. Because soggy fried chicken makes me sad. You can always dunk your chicken into the pool of sauce at the bottom of the plate if need be. A little bowl of pickled vegetables as palate cleanser before you dive in for another piece.
I personally would prefer the spicy fried chicken over the soy sauce and garlic, but our party is not so keen on spicy food and think the spicy version is always too hot from experience. The chicken is well coated in soy dressing, hence is a little less crunchy than other version, nevertheless it sure still makes you finger licking good.
And then, the new hybrid – the snow cheese chicken. “Snow on the branches” as poetically as it may sound on the menu, them fried chicken sure heavily coated in a thick layer of powdery yellow cheesy snow powder. Some claims it tasted like Twisties, it has the sweetness of Bokkeun Konggaru, roasted soybean powder commonly used in Korean dessert and the salty flavour of manufactured cheesy powder like those on Cheezels.
I don’t mind it, but my now cholesterol-coated heart still craving for another piece of those crunchy spring onion chicken.
Words already got out fast, as we walk out of the restaurant, there is already a line of patrons waiting outside patiently, hoping to get a taste of those deep, deep fried chicken.
As far as Korean Fried Chicken goes, NaruOne’s still reign supreme for me. However, their 90 minutes limit eating time put me off and I don’t have the urge to go back in a hurry. No doubt The Sparrow’s Mill grabs the opportunity of the spillover customers for being just around the corner. Alternatively, there is always Arisun comes to the rescue and wash down with giant keg of beer!
The Sparrow’s Mill
Shop 3, 116-120 Liverpool Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 7109
Monday to Friday 11.30am – 12 midnight
Saturday and public holidays 12pm – 11pm
Other Korean Fried Chicken hot spots in Sydney: