Where To Order: Tatler's Guide To The Best Korean Fried Chicken In Metro Manila 2021
Whether it’s the crispy deep-fried one or the batterless version with thin, translucent skin, there is no doubt Filipinos are madly in love with fried chicken. So much so that popular restaurants and fast-food chains that specialises in this dish have stayed in the business for decades. Established in 1945, Max’s Restaurant has been serving their signature fried chicken marinated in a flavourful fish sauce-based marinade for more than 70 years. Fast-food giant Jollibee has been delighting families with its iconic Chikenjoy for years and years with its branches sprouting like mushrooms in the Philippines and abroad. Even international players like Popeye's, KFC and McDonald’s have invaded the dining scene and are continuously satisfying our cravings for this go-to dish.
As Korean culture continues to take the world by storm, its influence on Filipinos can be seen in almost every aspect including food. Explicitly showcased in Korean dramas, Korean food has gained a significant following in the country. Remember that sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew) served by Park Saeroyi (Park Seo-joon) in Itaewon Class? Or that tteokbokki eaten by Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) in Romance is a Bonus Book? Or the chicken and beer combination seen on Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin’s Crash Landing On You, as well as on Kim Soo-hyun and Jun Ji-hyun’s My Love from the Stars?
These South Korean culinary treats, whether in ready-to-eat form or through raw ingredients, are now within every Filipino’s reach and people are going crazy about them.
Referred to as chikin in South Korea (from the English word “chicken”), Korean fried chicken is consumed as a main course, as an appetiser or as a bar chow. The closest version to the crispy battered fried chicken that Filipinos are used to is called huraideu-chicken. But what makes this different from American or Filipino-style fried chicken?
According to The New York Times, it 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. 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”, far from the Western variety that attributes its crispiness to the use of a thick, sometimes infused with buttermilk, batter. Korean fried chicken has a paper-thin crust that stays crunchy even after hours. The meat remains moist and never raw.
Tatler went around the metro to scout for the best Korean fried chicken dishes. Check the list below when the craving hits you and don’t forget to chill some beer and soju, too! Geonbae!
Read also: 15 Must-Try Beers And Where To Buy Them
1/10 Mambo Chicken
Known for its sweet and tangy eponymous signature dish, Mambo Chicken offers a variety of Korean fried chicken flavours—from classic original to soy garlic and gochujang to name a few. Its original Korean fried chicken has that loud crunch in every bite. First-timers are encouraged to try the signature Mambo chicken so they can advise this delivery-only food service to adjust the spice levels according to their preference. A mild option is the soy garlic variant which has a perfect balance of soy and garlic flavours, while those who are scared to try spicy food will definitely love the gochujang version. Using red chilli pepper paste as the base, it's the perfect combination of the sweet, salty and just the right kick of spice.
“We want to share the authentic Korean experience and flavours with our customers without compromising quality and quantity, which is why we always make sure to get the best ingredients from Korea to create the best fried chicken dishes. We want our customers to feel the excitement from the smell of our fried chicken, happiness in every crunchy bite, and real and full satisfaction of flavours upon finishing the last piece—an experience you would love to repeat and share with your loved ones,” shares Lee Su-hyun, founder of Mambo Chicken.
Tatler tip: If you are torn among all the flavours and are unsure what to order, get the BanBan chicken box that will allow you to choose two different variants in one box. The chicken dishes are also available in regular and boneless versions. Try also their bunshik (snacks) such as the japchae, tteokbokki, dakgangjeong, fried fish cakes and rice cakes.
Where to order: @mambochickenph; Grab Food; Foodpanda; +63917 8816 626 (BF Homes); +63968 8536 500 (Corinthian Gardens)
Read also: 8 Kimchi Recipes You Have To Try: Bibim Guksu, Kimchi Jjigae, And More
From the Moment Group's delivery-only brand, Cuckoo comes this crazy-delicious Gochu Glaze that brings the heat from Korean red chilli peppers. Whether in Cuckoo Wings (for those who like to wing it) form or boneless Cuckoo Strippers, fiery layers of salty, slightly sweet and spicy notes always linger long after the last bite.
Tatler tips: Savour each piece with Cuckoo Sides like the sweet potato smash and fried mac & cheese to balance out the experience.
Where to order: cuckoo.momentfood.com, @cuckoo_chicken
Read also: Where To Order: Tatler's Guide To The Best Burgers In Metro Manila 2021
3/10 24 Chicken
Founded in 2017, 24 Chicken’s goal is to bring affordable yet authentic Korean fried chicken in the Philippines, without scrimping on ingredients. Its bestseller is the Jack Daniels, a take on soy garlic while the yangnyeom variant echoes traditional Korean flavours—a go-to for those who don't know what to order.
Tatler tips: Order extra sauces such as lemon glazed, spicy barbecue, yangnyeom, yangnyeom2 and Jack Daniels so you can try them all in one go. There is a bucket of chicken good for groups as well as budget-friendly solo rice meals.
Where to order: @24chickenph; Grab Food; Foodpanda; Branches in Metro Manila
Read also: At Home Recipes: Travel The World With These Chicken Dishes
The ultimate comfort food and perhaps the best K drama binge-watching buddy is Oori’s bucket of crispy Korean fried chicken with a glass of cold beer. Freshly fried from the kitchen of Sheraton Manila Hotel‘s Korean restaurant this Korean-style fried chicken is smothered in sweet, spicy, and sticky red sauce. A bite can be a little addicting but thanks to their K-Chicken Box, you can enjoy ten pieces of this mouthwatering dish that comes with yangnyeum sauce and pickled radish.
Tatler tips: Don’t forget to grab a box and pair it with your favourite maekju (frosty beer) for the perfect chimaek experience!
Where to order: Pick-up; Grab Food; Foodpanda; Pickaroo, @sheratonmanila
Read also: Sheraton Manila’s Oori Restaurant Redefines Korean Barbecue Experience
5/10 Chicken Chingu
With its first branch right across Ateneo de Manila University on Katipunan Avenue, Chicken Chingu now brings juicy boneless Korean-style fried chicken in eight delightful flavours from its five shops around the metro. Get a load of its crispy fried chicken, glazed with garlic flavoured butter, and topped with real toasted garlic bits with Chicken Chingu’s original variant. The Honey Soy on the other hand is a blend of sweet and savoury while the Butter parmesan is perfect for cheese lovers. For those who are game for some kick, the authentic Yangnyeom fried chicken, comes in three scorching levels: Hot, Atomic and Inferno.
Tatler tips: Chicken Chingu also offers a flavourful Korean beef stew if you want to try something meaty.
Where to order: chickenchingu.com; @chickenchinguph; Grab Food; Foodpanda
Read also: Vincenzo Fans Unite: 5 Corn Salad Recipes You Need To Try Now
Experience authentic Korean fried chicken cooked in a temperature-controlled special fryer that makes every piece evenly cooked throughout. The chicken is brined overnight to keep it juicy and tender when fried. It is then double battered to ensure a crispy texture and tossed in their delectable house-made sauces. You can order a whole fried chicken, half fried chicken or wings, as well as choose between classic, honey soy or spicy sauces.
Tatler tips: Enjoy the fried chicken with a wonderful selection of banchan, of which, the sesame potato salad with furikake, caramelised spicy dilis and our housemade kimchi are the most popular. Another great dish to accompany the fried chicken is the kimchi Spam fried rice with egg—comfort in a bowl that is good to share.
Where to order: @mokjakoreanhouse; Grab Food; Foodpanda
A premium Korean eatery inside The Grid Food Market in Rockwell, Gochugang offers classic and modern Korean dishes including its bestselling fried chicken wings glazed with two signature sauces: homemade ssamjaang chilli glaze and Korean sweet soy garlic.
Tatler tips: The mixed berry tea complements the rich flavours of the chicken. If you are looking into trying other classic dishes, there’s a slew on offer like bibimbap, jjigae, japchae and more. Platter and DIY kits to enjoy at home are also available.
Where to order: @gochugangph; thegridfoodmarket.com
Read also: Whet Your Appetite: The Grid Food Market Opens at Rockwell
8/10 Rolling Tubs
Travel agent-turned-homebaker and homecook Chrissie Rosales’ love for K drama including 2019’s biggest hit Crash Landing On You inspired her to make her own version of Korean fried chicken. “It kept showing their famous Korean fried chicken. I started craving and decided to make my own...and my ‘Crash Lunching On You’ menu happened,” the founder of Rolling Tubs shares. Good to share, this menu, which comes with japchae, CKC Korean chicken, kimchi jjigae and kimchi fried rice, instantly became a hit like the Korean series that it was named after. Her version of Korean fried chicken has a sticky sweet soy sauce with the right amount of kick using Korean chilli paste smothered on 500g of wings and drumsticks.
Tatler tip: Not a Korean treat but Rolling Tubs' other best-selling product is her red velvet cake—a perfect way to extinguish the heat from all the spicy things happening on your palate.
Where to order: @rollingtubs; +63917 5711 210
9/10 Soban K-Town Grill
From the team behind the local franchise of Sariwon comes Soban K-Town Grill, another Korean dining heaven. Try the dak ganjeong or caramelised boneless fried chicken with homemade teriyaki sauce which comes with a set of banchan (side dishes).
Tatler tip: These juicy slices of boneless chicken pair well with Soban’s K-BBQ meats such as samgyupsal, Korean pork belly, and woo samgyup (USDA choice beef belly).
Where to order: @soban.ktown, shop.soban.ph; Grab Food; Foodpanda; Pick-A-Roo; JR Mall
Read also: 7 Best Restaurants That Hit All Our Asian Cuisine Cravings
10/10 Sibyullee Unlimited Korean BBQ
Sibyullee's soy garlic fried chicken is comfort food you don't want to miss. Boneless fried chicken thighs are marinated in a special blend of soy sauce and garlic, giving that perfectly seasoned dish to pair with soju or beer. The spicy fried chicken, also made of boneless chicken thighs, is marinated in Korean chilli powder and other authentic spices.
Tatler tip: Sibyullee Unlimited Korean BBQ offers a set menu of Korean fried chicken & gimbap KBBQ party kit that is good to share between 2-3 persons.
Where to order: shop.sibyullee.ph; Grab Food; Foodpanda; Pick-A-Roo; JR Mall