Chicken wings done with a poet’s touch

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Chicken wings done with a poet’s touch


A poem dedicated to the celebrated literary critic Kim Hyun by the poet Hwang Ji-woo mentions a particular restaurant in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul. That restaurant, Banpo Chicken, was frequented by Mr. Kim and other key figures of the modern Korean literary scene.
But Banpo Chicken has more going for it than mere name-dropping. It was also one of the first chicken restaurants in Seoul to start serving rotisserie chicken. Located in front of the Gubanpo apartment complex, one of the earliest complexes in the apartment boom of the early 1970s, the 29-year-old restaurant shares its history with the surrounding apartments. Throughout the day, customers come in for take-out or to sit down with a bottle of Cass in one hand and a chicken leg in the other.
Its specialty, “garlic chicken” (12,000 won, about $12.50 for a whole chicken), is smeared with the restaurant’s original garlic sauce, made of minced garlic and pepper, spread on top of the pieces of lightly-fried rotisserie chicken. The restaurant uses relatively small chickens, which the owner says have a richer taste and are “more elastic.” The sauce, which has the strong garlic burn typical of Szechuan-style Korean spicy chicken or kkanpunggi, dilutes the meaty aftertaste of the chicken.
A key factor in determining the taste of fried chicken is its skin. Because Banpo Chicken starts out with rotisserie chicken and then fries the meat slightly, the outer crust is very thin and not too greasy. Those who feel bloated and full after gobbling down pieces of fried chicken needn’t worry about that here; the meat is quite easy on the stomach. If you’re on a date, however, you’d better bring some mints ― we have a serious garlic-breath situation here. The alternative is to order the plain rotisserie chicken, which is lightly salted and fried.
Because the chickens are on the small side, a whole chicken for, let’s say, two grown men might be a bit light. The restaurant fortunately has a variety of other things on the menu, with such fried items as pork cutlets, as well as Korean-style boiled dumplings and rice dishes.

by Cho Jae-eun

Banpo Chicken is located in Seochogu, Banpo-dong. The nearest subway station is Express Bus Terminal station line No. 3, exit 6. For more information, call (02) 599-2825.
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