In the Republic of Korea, K.F.C. means one thing and one thing only:
Korean Fried Chicken.
The trend started during the Korean war, when (mostly) African-American G.I.’s began setting up stalls and selling fried chicken on the weekends. Approximately around the same time, draft beer, or maekju, became very popular in Korea. Chikin (치킨) and maekju (맥주) had a lovechild and Chi-Maek (치맥), or chicken and beer, was born.
Fast forward to 2018 and I am making a pilgrimage to Suwon’s Fried Chicken Street (수원 통닭거리).
Suwon is a very pretty place, which was convenient because I needed to work-up some hunger. Jessye and I strolled around the UNESCO-listed Hwaseong Fortress at sunset.
When we arrived at Fried Chicken Street we passed under a golden chicken shining in the setting sun.
Food blogs (including this one) and guidebooks are usually written by people who don’t know what they are talking about — so when it is time for me to eat and I am abroad I simply walk around until I find a place with a line. I trust that the locals know where the good food is, which makes life simple: I eat wherever they eat.
On that night, they were eating at Yong Seong Tongdak (용성통닭)
While we were standing in line we were able to watch the fried chicken being made in a huge cast-iron cauldron called Gamasot (가마솥), a uniquely Korean invention that has been a staple of the Korean kitchen since the reign of King Daemusin (18‒44 CE). The use of Gamasot to make fried chicken is what sets Suwon’s Fried Chicken Street apart from other fried chicken streets in Korea.
After about a half-an-hour we were seated on the floor and served some chicken gizzards and feet while we waited. In the meantime we had some draft beer. Korean beer isn’t known for its taste, but it is cheap and always served very cold.
There were a few chickens on the menu: spicy chicken, traditional fried chicken, and half and half. We ordered the half and half (반과 반). When our chicken was ready it came via a special little chicken elevator.
The chicken was very good. Yin and Yang were perfectly represented, the spicy chicken drenched in a sticky, sweet, and yes, spicy sauce while the traditional chicken was light and moist. The chicken was served with salt, mustard, gochujang, and kimchi.
All in all, if you need a K.F.C. fix, Suwon’s Chicken Street is just the place to be.
Yongseong Tongdak 용성통닭
Address: 10-5 Paldallo 1(il)-ga, Paldal-gu, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do
Hours: 11AM–12:30AM, Tuesday Closed