My dear friend and I enter a relativity obscure dak kang jung (sweet and sticky fried chicken) restaurant/fast food joint in the area of Hannam-dong, Seoul. The first time I passed this place I caught myself drooling because they have an open kitchen for customers and pedestrians to view (and to get a good whiff) of their fried chicken up close and personal. If seeing is believing (remember I only passed this place once), then there would be no way that this joint would disappoint, right?!
[Scroll down for complete photo roll]
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Straight to the point, we ordered half of the regular and half of the sweeter version on this night and to be objective, the food was great—sticky, tangy, sweet, crunchy, and pretty darn tasty. However, all that sticky sweetness had nothing to balance it out (except for our beer, but that doesn’t count I don’t think). With regular fried chicken joints, you will always get a side dish of salad or slaw, danmuji (pickled radish cubes), or both to prevent what Koreans call “jilyuh” or “neukihae,” which roughly translates as being tired of something and greasy, respectively. We felt the same way. Regardless, I didn’t come here for the side dishes so I have to give a reasonable 4 stars.
Service: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars
I have to say this rating is a little skewed from the fact that this place is more a take-out joint rather than dining in. If you do decide to eat there, you have whopping 3 tables to choose from (8 total seats in the house) and it is pretty cramped especially when customers come in for orders. However, the workers were all very attentive, helpful, accommodating (I was taking pictures left and right w no complaints), and nice enough to answer some general questions about the food and restaurant. Most chain restaurants like this one usually have a despondent and lazy worker on the shift, none were present on this visit. Solid 5 stars.
Ambiance: ★★★ ½ out of 5 stars
The place is super clean, organized, bright, and inviting despite the general size. Being a chain restaurant, cleanliness and sanitation appears to be a top priority (unlike a lot of private or mom n pop restaurants), which assures you that the food will be safe, clean, and usually pretty decent. The only downside is the size (if you’re Korean, imagine a small one-room housing) and lack of music, which definitely could have filled the white noise better than workers’ bantering and chicken frying in the burners (the latter I actually like). Overall, a solid score with decent, modern decor as well.
Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
We ordered the large box version for a very reasonable 12,000 won (about $10 bucks) and the portion size was very generous. To add to the mix, we even got a few pieces of croquettes because they had problems with the tap on the draft beer (yah!). But again, those were good as well but just way too much fried stuff that we begged for something light and refreshing. If we had known earlier about the portion size we would have definitely gotten the regular box, which might have left us feeling less guilty about leaving so much leftover. Overall, another good rating as you get your money’s worth.
Overall rating: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Kang Jung Box (Hannam Jeom)
Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Hannam-dong 633-3
This is the large portion which was pretty large for 2 adults. Leftovers made for a decent snack the next day.