Wednesday, September 28, 2011

KFC or Korean Fried Chicken Adventure with FOODIES

I mean... after penis shaped pigs tails, live octopus & still moving lobster sashimi and a taco truck crawl through an area of los angeles I didn't even know existed (totally forgot to blog about that... whoops) this seemed sort of tame on the richer scale of FOODIE adventures?

But I do love the double fried, fatty & crispy, decadently delicious & supremely spicy joy that is Korean Fried Chicken and after reading this yelp review, I couldn't wait to check out the Prince Restaurant.
"Much of the lighting is provided by lamps shaped like white-wigged white men from the 18th century. I once got in trouble for bringing one down to sit next to me in our booth. I called him George. I guess George and his friends are too fragile to entertain drunk customers."
Traditionally eaten as a fast food snack, this delicately fried chicken has created a main-stay power in the new Angelino diet with the likes of Jonathan Gold raving about it as the "Best Fried Chicken"  Revolutionizing the way fried chicken is prepared, Korean chicken removes all of the fat from the skin which results in a paper thin & extremely flavorful crust.  They also always use fresh chicken with no trans fats & no heat lamps.  Part of the wait time is due to the fact that they'll only fry up chicken to order, but it's always well worth the wait. Here's a little excerpt from the NY Times detailing the process of cooking up this yummy snack.
Deep Fried Chicken (Whole) @ The Prince Restaurant
Korean-style fried chicken is radically different, reflecting an Asian frying technique that renders out the fat in the skin, transforming it into a thin, crackly and almost transparent crust. (Chinese cooks call this “paper fried chicken.”) The chicken is unseasoned, barely dredged in very fine flour and then dipped into a thin batter before going into the fryer. The oil temperature is a relatively low 350 degrees, and the chicken is cooked in two separate stages.

After 10 minutes, the chicken is removed from the oil, shaken vigorously in a wire strainer and allowed to cool for two minutes. This slows the cooking process, preventing the crust from getting too brown before the meat cooks through. It also shaves off all those crusty nubs and crags that American cooks strive for.

After 10 more minutes in the fryer, the chicken is smooth, compact, golden-brown, and done. Then, it’s served plain (with a small dish of salt and pepper for seasoning) or lightly painted with sauce. When it’s done correctly, the sauce is absorbed into the crust, adding savor without making it soggy. - NY Times: Koreans Share Their Secret for Chicken With a Crunch
It's served up with a side of Picked Daikon (which is simply flavored with sugar & white vinegar) and best enjoyed with an ice cold beer or a shot of sweet soju.  So we hit up The Prince Restaurant who claims they are the originators of the KFC.  Also tried a variety of other things & to the best of my knowledge this is what we ate!  (Here's where I do have to apologize... I've learned my lesson & am never leaving the house without my trusty Olympus ever again!)

Sautéed Spicy Soondae with Vegetables 
We started with what I think was a heaping plate of Sautéed Spicy Soondae with Vegetables - Korean pork sausage filled with Korean vermicelli.  It was a little heavy on the sesame oil, but the pork sausages were seasoned with a nice bit of spice that really excited the taste buds & washed down well with a swig of Hite. Next came the huge plates filled with the good stuff and bowls of rice wraps, spicy kimchee & sweet pickled daikon to make our little bossam pouches.  Everyone got a kick out of eating the slippery wraps in Angelino taco formation. 

Spicy Chicken
Out came the "Spicy Chicken." I put it in quotes, because after having "Sweet & Spicy" at Kyochon, this really had nothing on the heat level. It tasted more like a nice orange chicken, albeit filled with annoying bones.  I'd say if you're with non-adventurous eaters this would be a good dish to order, but if you really want the true spicy Korean Fried Chicken experience, head to Kyochon or Bonchon instead.  The bits of rice cake immersed in sauce is always a nice touch, but this dish just sort of fell flat for me.
Roast Dried Squid

Then came the Roast Dried Squid with peanuts.  They tasted like beef jerky, albeit with a little squid-y flavor, but were defiantly not a favorite of the table. After watching others try the bright orange sauce that accompanied it & seeing their nostrils flare, I left good enough alone.  I understand spice, and that not all spices are created equal.  There are some things I just need not put myself through...

We also had some Seasoned Tofu with a garlic-y & onion dipping sauce that I probably could have eaten as the whole meal.  A good dose of Chapchae, a stir-fried cellophane noodle dish with beef and vegetables and a heavy helping platter of kimchee fried rice.  

Jokbal, a braised and seasoned pork trotter
But the dish that really did me in?  The Jokbal, a braised and seasoned pork trotter that came steaming hot in a metal plate full of spices & peppers.  The meat melted off the bone & was tender and succulent. If I wasn't already so stuffed from the massive feast of dishes, I could have lived happily with another helping.  All in all, probably 30 some odd dishes of food, 5 or 6 carafes of soju & 40 or so people, the total bill came out to $25 / person.  So if you're looking for a place with cheap eats & a fun kitschy ambiance complete with a ton of "George's" then this is the place for you. Plus they have 50% off at the bar from 5-7pm.

The Prince Restaurant
3198 1/2 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 389-1586


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