On the sidewalk outside the Manhattan branch of Kyochon (there are 1,000 in Korea, seven in L.A.), I felt like I was both in an airport check-in line and entering a new Apple store. You stand in a cordoned off queue, and when you finally make it to the doorway, a pert female with a red vest and jaunty newsboy cap hands you a folded menu and ushers you into a sleek white-and-red interior, where you’re blasted with electropop.
The palpable buzz is what made me think of an Apple store, along with the number of staff milling around. Yet, when you see images of chicken behind the cashier, you think: “All this for fast food?”
Fans of Korean fried chicken greeted Kyochon’s opening with fanfare and blog posts. Never having sampled Bonchon chicken or other rivals, I had no expectations for my order of soy-garlic glazed signature wings ($5.99/five pieces). As I waited for the square buzzer given to me when I ordered to vibrate, and for a male in a striped porkpie hat to bring me my food, the manager explained a process involving thin batter, canola oil, double-frying, fresh young chickens and individualized glazing. Biting into a wing, I knew everything I needed to know; this chicken is sticky, crunchy, garlicky, salty/sweet. Addictive.
350 Fifth Avenue
(at 32nd Street)
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