The delivery type, that is. Korea is a food delivery paradise. Pizza, jjajangmyeon (자장면), jokbal (족발), pork cutlets, hamburgers, fried chicken, gimbap (김밥) , tteokbokki (떡볶이), soups and stews, hweh (회) , naengmyeon (냉면), complete Korean meals with rice and banchan (반찬); all are available with a simple phone call until the wee hours of the morning; all are available for delivery anywhere, whether at home or at the office or on the outdoor banks of the Han River.
Among all the popular delivery dishes, the king is definitely, without doubt, fried chicken. During the World Cup season when the whole country was up at odd hours watching the matches and needing something to munch on, the sales for delivery chicken hiked up so much that it was difficult to meet demand.
When or why fried chicken became such a hot delivery item is unclear, although back in the ‘70s and ‘80s a whole roasted chicken (tong dak, 통닭) was considered something of a rare treat to eat on special occasions. There are still traditional tong dak places but the momentum has gone over to the more easy-to-eat fried chicken, which is called by its English name chicken (치킨, pronounced cheekeen) to differentiate it from tong dak.
There are a great number of fried chicken delivery franchises currently operating in Korea, with their own original recipes and menus vying for a share in the market. In the menus offered, you would normally find a plain “original recipe” chicken, a chicken doused with various sauces (savoury, sweet, spicy), legs only, wings only, a combination of both, boneless, and the occasional tong dak.
Korean fried chicken comes without a thick flour batter-dipped skin, making it “lighter” and less greasy to the touch. Once you get used to the Korean style, it’s hard to eat fried chicken cooked any other way. It’s truly addictive.
Probably the first franchise to come to mind when speaking of Korean fried chicken is Kyochon. Kyochon first introduced their fried chicken 20 years ago. Their savory chicken with garlic and soy seasoning was the first to have a non-western taste, and they are considered as one of the first franchises to offer separate parts (e.g. wings only) instead of the whole chicken. With stores in the U.S. and China, they are introducing Korean fried chicken to an international audience.
BBQ is another old franchise, usually known for their sauced chicken. Not only for BBQ, a delivery set is usually composed of chicken of choice, a side dish of pickled mu (Korean radish), and a can of soda. (Usually Pepsi. I think Pepsi has an exclusive contract with almost all of the Korean franchises because I’ve never seen anything else delivered besides Pepsi.)
The franchises will also deliver beer (usually 1,000 cc or more), a favorite beverage to accompany fried chicken. Koreans usually call the pairing chi-maek (치맥), an abbreviation of chicken and maekju (맥주, beer).
Pelicana is the oldest chicken franchise; they started by selling tong dak in the ‘80s. They are also known for their sauced chicken, especially the ultra-spicy sauce one. (Other franchises offer the spicy sauce option as well, but I find Pelicana’s the most tasty.)
Sometimes they call this ‘bul dak’ (불닭, fire chicken) because the spiciness level usually induces tears and a fiery mouth. If you like hot and spicy food, the hotter the better – this is for you.
Every chicken franchise has different packaging methods. Goobne’s set comes with everything neatly packaged in one box with the cover dividing the contents down the middle when closed, so there is no jostling about inside and the delivery arrives neat and proper.
Practically a newcomer on the chicken scene, Goobne gained quick popularity with their oven roasted chicken. So it’s not technically “fried” chicken, but it’s one of the top chicken delivery franchises and can’t be ignored.
The newest trendy item these days is ‘pa dak’ (파닭) – chicken with thinly julienned green onions. Although most franchises offer a version of this on their menu, some new franchises specializing only in pa dak are popping up here and there.
It’s like a simple salad and meat all tossed into one! I like how the crisp, nose-tingling hotness of the green onions mesh with the chicken. However, I do recommend brushing your teeth very thoroughly if you’re going to be in a social setting afterwards. Korean spring onions are very, very strong.
A staple in a chicken delivery set, it is mu that adds needed acidity to the fatty meal and not salad; it’s almost like an alternative for kimchi. Additional mu can ordered separately.
The major chicken franchises usually have high profile stars as their spokesmodels, who work their charm in advertisements and TV commercials, and adorn the packaging with their flashy smiles. K-pop idols are the popular choice for the franchises but the tie-in with the stars doesn’t last forever so if you’re as dorky as I am and collect related merchandise, be sure to order while your favorite stars are still doing promotions. Super Junior was the spokesmodel for Kyochon up to 2010 but are no longer with the franchise.
Luckily for you Girls’ Generation (SNSD) fans, the girls are still promoting for Goobne. The tumbler was a limited promotion item that came with the delivery during last year’s holiday season . Wallpapers for the 2011 calendar featuring the girls are available at their website. (See below.)
Be sure to keep the coupons that come with your delivery! They come in various shapes and sizes so look carefully before you throw out anything that comes with your meal. Collect a certain number and you’ll get a complimentary something, mostly a whole delivery set.
There are many, many more local franchises out there without homepages. Check out your neighborhood delivery booklet and flyers for more information, and happy munching!
Korean chicken delivery franchises (in alphabetical order)
- BBQ : http://www.bbq.co.kr
- Bodram : http://www.bodram.com/
- Cheogajip : http://www.cheogajip.co.kr/
- DD chicken : http://www.ddck.co.kr
- Duldul (Twotwo) Fried Chicken : http://www.22chicken.co.kr
- Goobne : http://www.goobne.co.kr/
- Kyochon : http://kyochon.com/main.asp
- Mexicana : http://mexicana.co.kr
- Mom’s Touch : http://momstouch.co.kr/
- Motmalineun (MN) Padak : http://www.mn-padak.com/
- Ne Ne Chicken : http://www.nenechicken.com/
- Padakemucheo (PDPM) : http://www.pdpm.co.kr/
- Pelicana : http://www.pelicana.co.kr/
- Toreore : http://www.toreore.com/
- Vons : http://www.vons.or.kr/