Just when I thought I was finished with having top-notch, quality fried chicken like I did back in Seoul, this little island continues to amaze and prove me wrong at the same time. While roaming the beautiful oceanfront at Hamdeok Beach (roughly 20km east of Jeju City), my partner and I stumbled upon a new joint located off the main street called 숨어있는집, literally translated “Hidden Place/Home.” Nicely (and thankfully) tucked away from the many tourist hot spots who want ocean view dining, this place is a secret gem that few locals and tourists know about. At least not yet. The place has been open just over three months, but it has garnered quite the buzz in the blogosphere (Naver mainly) and for good reason.
Now onto the fried chicken and their food in general. The chicken here is legit and seriously top-notch. Amusingly tabbed the Oppa-ga Twigin Basak Dak (“Older Brother’s Fried Crunchy Chicken”), the chicken is eggshell-thin crispy (coated n fried with starch only), nicely seasoned with the basics, and surprisingly little to no oil dripping from the pieces. There’s nothing too fancy upon first glance, but there’s some noticeable differences. First, the place uses free-range, antibiotic-free chicken sourced on the outskirts of Hallasan Park. Not many KFC joints can boast this claim. Second, the place has an industrial-sized fan right next to the fryer. What does that mean? The fan helps “dry” the crust to make it super crunchy and less oily. Lastly, the place has three dipping sauces that are self-serve and made in-house (except the last one): regular yangnyum sauce (sweet, slightly spicy, always sticky), sweet onion sauce, and Tabasco sauce. The mere sight of Tabasco was a real treat for me, adding that extra kick needed for the all-too-sweet yangnyum sauce. For these reasons, I can say with confidence that it cracks my personal Top 10 KFC Joints in Korea (yes, it’s that good). Not to make this post entirely about fried chicken, the Jeonbok Haemul Kalguksu (Abalone n Seafood “Knife Noodles”) was also a big winner and made a great partner with the chicken. Made not only from wheat flour and eggs (which is standard kalguksu), the place uses rice flour in the mix to give its noodles a very smooth, slippery texture all the while adding its starchy goodness to the nice seafood broth. Ironically, the noodles are not cut by knife, but are nicely and uniformly smoothed and cut on a press machine. And just like the fried chicken, there’s the kicker: the noodles are 무한리필, meaning free “refills” on the noodles. Yes, unlimited noodles for hardcore kalguksu enthusiasts.
The restaurant has other fine offerings like Jeonbok Butter Gui (Grilled Abalone in Butter Sauce), Maeun Dak Bal (Spicy Chicken Feet), and Ddong Jip Twigim (Fried Chicken Gizzards), but they seem to be more popular with the late night crowd as anju, or food paired with alcoholic drinks. Personally, I haven’t had positive experiences with chicken feet and gizzards, but knowing how good his other dishes are, I will definitely stop by in the future. I highly recommend you do the same.
“Any processed chicken from any place – I’ll order it in a heartbeat. I’m very pick about my pork, though.”
~ David Chang
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
“Hidden Place” (숨어있는집)
955-7 Hamdeok-ri, Jocheon-eup (제주시 조천읍 함덕리 955-7)
Hours of Operation: Open daily 11 am ~ 12 am
Click here for an interactive map via Naver: http://me2.do/5pr7xvvN