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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken Up

48 Tanjong Pagar Road
#01-01 S088469
Tel: 63271203

As I find myself once again in the troughs of the unofficial korean food street, aka Tanjong Pagar Road, the appeal of fried chicken, more specifically, Korean Fried Chicken, calls to me. My first attempt was at BBQ chicken in Downtown east. Claimed to use only olive oil, the chicken were crispy and juicy, slightly better than the Colonel’s Hot and Spicy. The second attempt was in Lotte World, Seoul. What appeared to be a under patronized stall gave me a better glimpse of how good Korean Fried Chicken is.

The bright fiery red décor stands out among the many Korean offerings. Shiny red laminated tables paired with equally crimson leather benches gives this place its distinct look. Korean TV snipplets glared from what else but a Samsung LCD with K-pop mildly blaring from the speakers courtesy of some very now K-band. Feels almost fast food like, just classier.

Most, if not all the staff are Korean. Orders were made plainly and I usually point to what I want on the menu to confirm. The nice waitress suggested “Mild Up” after we professed to not being able to handle spicy very well. To make things more interesting, she suggested the “Curry Up” as well, claming it non spicy. I added a Leek dumpling, its picture reminiscent of Chinese Dumping. Finishing the order was a impromptus lesson on how to pronounce a white grape drink ‘bong bong’. Fun.

Salad is provided free. With a blend of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and purple cabbages tossed with a tart dressing, the salad was standard stuff yet important as a starter before the anticipatory deep fried onslaught.

Leek Dumplings - $8
A mini version of Chinese “shui jiao”, filled with fresh pork complimented by leek. The accompanying sauce was however, decidedly Korean. Dark red vinegar with chilli powder makes the usual Chinese vinegar with ginger seem subdued. Each fresh tasting steamed dumpling was light on the palate until the vinegar kicks in. The size makes this dish a slightly out of place but pleasant appetizer.

Mild Up – W($25)/H($15)
A whole version serves eight pieces and half four. Stacked up were eight gorgeous pieces of golden fried chicken parts. I attacked my favourite part, the thigh with aplomb. Crunching my way past the battered skin peppered with a mild spice mix of secret ingredients, I was rewarded with a succulent, tender, fleshy center. The flesh of the thigh burst into flavours I was not quite familiar with, though I instantly knew I liked. It was only after I reached the bone did I realize how little oil there was. The battered should have tasted a lot oilier but it didn’t. The skin and tender flesh of the thigh, usually one of the fattiest portion though juicy, did not feel like there were any excess fat. The bird came with chilli and mustard, both quite unnecessary as the chicken was flavourful enough.

Curry Up – W($25)/H($15)
The only difference was the curry sauce and did it make a difference. This time, I dipped a piece of breast with slight trepidation into the brownish curry gravy. Together with the curry, the simple piece of breast cut chewed with a cotton like feel. Floating in the delightful sauce were cut potatoes and carrots, adding to the wonderful feel of the curry.

My food buddies had initially thought it was impossible to finish so many pieces of chicken. We ended up fighting for the remaining pieces as civility gave way to deep fried chicken lust. A wonderful addition to my list of places to go for good food after dark as the restaurant closes at 2am on weekends.

Ambience - 2/5
Service - 3/5
Food - 7/10
Price - $10-25 per person


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