If you are a fan of K-drama, you will remember many scenes of the characters enjoying chicken. In Korea, 'chicken' typically refers to 'fried chicken', which is the most popular item in casual dining. Although not a traditional Korean food, KFC (Korean fried chicken) found favor in the 1970s as it developed closely in tandem with an industrializing society, as both cooking oil and chicken became more affordable. KFC, famous for its double-fried light crisp skin, attracts fans around the world with its continual creativity using various spices, techniques and brilliant ideas –.for instance, the pairing of beer and chicken even has a special name, chimaek. We wanted to expand our dining options, so we asked the following chefs of MICHELIN-starred restaurants in Seoul what they think about KFC.
Chef Kim Byoung-jin
Gaon, MICHELIN Guide Seoul 2022 3 Star
I think the main charm of enjoying Korean chicken is that you can order it anywhere by delivery service. In the early '80s, when I was a student at elementary school, my mother always made chicken at home after sports day. Mom would prepare the chicken with ground crackers and milk, chopped onions and garlic, fry it in a pan, and then serve it by adding soy sauce and honey sprinkled on top of the whole chicken. This menu brings back these special childhood memories.
It’s hard to say that I’m a huge fan of fried chicken, but sometimes I order it by delivery. Fried chicken in Korea is very diverse, so even though each person has a different taste, it can be said that there is at least one kind of chicken for each person. It has a wide variety of flavors including simple crispy chicken, soy sauce-flavored chicken, sweet chili chicken, and there are thousands of sauces to dip them in. And since KFC is such a popular food, many Korean farms only do poultry for fried chicken. They produce chicken with optimal meat quality and taste for frying.
Chef Yim Jungsik
Jungsik, MICHELIN Guide Seoul 2022 2 Star
KFC has various charms that you can't help loving. Due to the Korean Wave spreading around the globe, fans of K-culture are exposed to the scenes of Koreans enjoying chicken through dramas and entertainment shows. The interest in KFC has increased a lot, of course. KFC brands that have made inroads into overseas markets offer different styles of fried chicken. The basic seasoning techniques are slightly different for each brand, and the know-how to bring out the savory taste from chicken is diverse.
I think the chicken's most delicious parts are the whole legs and wings. Rather than a fancy style, I stick to the basics of fried chicken. The skin is crispy like a snack, and the inside is tender with fresh chicken flavor. I enjoy eating late-night snacks after cycling; among many options, I like chicken because I can eat it comfortably anytime, and the name is interesting, right? You may think it's nonsense to eat fried chicken as a late-night snack while exercising to be healthy! (laughs)
Chef Mingoo Kang
Mingles, MICHELIN Guide Seoul 2022 2 Star
I enjoy eating chicken after work or with my team members at work. I really like KFC, so I put chicken on the menu at Mingles and at Hansikgoo in Hong Kong. KFC borrowed its form from Western-style fried chicken or roast chicken, but it gained a unique charm because it was loved by the public in Korea. When seasoning chicken, we use Korean spices such as green onions, garlic, and ginger to enhance the flavor, and add a variety of tastes such as sweet soy sauce and spicy sauce to it, making it a very unique chicken dish that you have never experienced in the West.
My favorite chicken is Green-pepper Anchovy Chicken. It's a dish that Chef Shin Chang-ho of Michelin 2 star Joo-ok and I developed together, which was inspired by Korean side dishes. Stir-fried anchovies and green peppers are mixed with Korean soy sauce and served with crispy fried chicken. You can enjoy the charm of Korean food and the characteristics of chicken together.
Chef Kim Daechun
7th Door, MICHELIN Guide Seoul 2022 1 Star
When I was young and studying abroad in Japan, I didn’t have enough budget to eat out wherever I wanted. Back then, I used to buy 3kg of chicken leg meat for only US$10, and made fried chicken in my kitchen. It was cheap yet very delicious, and I can even share it with my colleagues even though I was not that affluent. I reinterpreted this dish with its special memory at my first restaurant in Seoul, Toc Toc.
The market size of KFC is huge. Special chicken varieties only for frying recipes are well developed. A large chicken franchise is also thriving, and the delivery service is beyond your imagination. At home, hotels, and even outdoors in public parks and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you can get delivery service! Among many options, I like boneless tenderloin chicken. I don't like the skin part, as I prefer the soft and light taste of chicken. It’s very crispy and the taste expresses the most basic and yet well-made taste when I think of fried chicken.
Chef Cho Eun-hee
Onjium, MICHELIN Guide Seoul 2022 1 Star
I wonder if there's any food as popular as KFC, yet I’m not a huge fan of it. Still, I enjoy its crispy texture and fresh taste, especially with a glass of beer. The fried chicken itself is delicious, and there are so many styles and sauces which makes it so convenient when you dine out with friends because it somehow fits everyone’s taste.
I like a chicken restaurant near our restaurant. The basic fried chicken is a true delicacy. You can fully enjoy the taste of classic KFC. The outer layer is very thin and crispy; thanks to it, the savory and light taste goes together well with mild chicken flesh. It's close to our restaurant, Onjium, so we (colleagues) can visit it together after working hard. I recall how delicious the chicken was with cool beer, relaxing after closing hours with my colleagues.