I've mentioned several times in my blog that the Japanese have a tradition of eating fried chicken on Christmas Day. I first became aware of this during a 2001 trip to Okinawa to visit my mom's family. Through astute observation and some excellent marketing by Kentucky Fried Chicken, Japanese people think Westerners eat at KFC during the holidays.
Since I grew up with an Okinawan mother and a father from North Carolina, you'd think my sister and I would've been up to our ear lobes with fried chicken on Christmas day. No. My mother prepared and served the usual turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce a la American tradition.
After reading that KFC was finally starting to push the traditional Japanese "Christmas set" here in the States, my husband and I decided to give fried chicken a try for Christmas dinner. But not at KFC. We wanted our Christmas dinner to be Japanese, or at least Asian. I considered Tebaya, a Japanese wings place in Chelsea, but we craved drumsticks. A few minutes of searching on Google and Yelp turned up KyoChon, a Korean fried chicken place in the shadow of the Empire State Building in Koreatown. Sold!
|Empire State Building|
It's a fast-food chain with a hostess stand at the entrance, a wall with lights that change colors, and K-pop music that give the place a clubby feel. We ordered our food to go, but I'm sure dining in is a nice experience.
|KyoChon in Koreatown|
|Our Christmas spread from KyoChon|
We ordered a six-piece box of Signature Drumsticks with soy and garlic sauce, their Sal Sal Chicken Rice Bowl, and a side order of potato wedges. The texture of the fried drumsticks is not what we expected. We're used the KFC, Southern way of slathering the chicken in a floury paste before frying. KyoChon fries their chicken twice so that the skin, while crispy, isn't big and fluffy. The meat was slightly dry, but it wasn't a deal-breaker.
|KyoChon's Signature Drumsticks|
The Sal Sal Chicken Rice Bowl is a mixture of KyoChon's Sal Sal Chicken Strips - which are covered with breadcrumbs and puffed rice - and a green salad served over rice. The Sweet Soy Dressing added the perfect zing to this light and flavorful dish.
|KyoChon's Sal Sal Chicken Rice Bowl|
This Korean fast-food chain serves up savory meals, and they want their customers to be neat and tidy during the dining process. Each order comes with a "KyoChon's clean!" packet. It contains the obligatory moist towelette, napkins, and chopsticks, but it also comes with a plastic glove so that you can eat your drumsticks without soiling your hands.
|A gloved hand makes no mess . . .|
|. . . especially when chicken is involved|
It may not become our Christmas tradition, but we were pleased with our dinner choice. KyoChon's motto is "Chicken like you've never had before." The tastiness of the chicken and the variety of the menu will make you have it again and again.
|Our KyoChon Christmas|