Hanchu 한추 (Apgujeong-dong, Seoul)

If I were ever to make a list of top 10 fried chicken joints in Seoul, this place would rank near the top of the list for several reasons. First off, the place is large yet bare-bones with an unmatched old-school vibe that I personally love. In my experience, places that focus less on the superficial stuff (i.e. fancy interior/exterior) usually make up for it by serving delicious food. Here, it’s all about the food and nothing else–signatures include crispy, perfectly-fried fried chicken (17,000 won) and fried stuffed peppers (15,000 won). The chicken pieces are slightly on the greasy side (not a complaint), but surprisingly, the coating stays super crunchy and the insides moist, tender, and nicely seasoned. The fried stuffed peppers are ridiculously good as well, offering a nice contrast of textures from the crispy coating on the outside to the moist, beefy filling on the inside. Another positive here is that it’s the perfect place to chill and catch up with friends over a cold beer, specifically a chilled glass of draft beer. Lastly, the place has not only survived but thrived for over 20 years in the expensive, trend-setting area known as Garosugil in the crosshairs of Apgujeong-Sinsa. Now that I think about it, this place has saved me plenty of times from the unimaginable stress of my previous, long-to-be-forgotten workplace–which, ironically, was just one block away from here.

There are some common universal themes when it comes to old-school fried chicken joints in Korea. Here are a few things that I have observed over time:

  • The ultra-crispy, crunchy KFC is born from a technique called “double frying,” which involves deep frying the chicken twice to ensure extra crispiness.
  • Expect complimentary side kicks like pickled radish called chicken mu, airy chips called macaroni, or a salad consisting of shredded cabbage with ketchup/mayo dressing.
  • Don’t expect meaty pieces of chicken like in the West – Koreans use younger birds for better taste and texture.
  • Chicken + Maekju (Beer) = Chimek! (치맥). You can’t have one without the other. Oh, if you can’t drink, just pretend that you can to avoid crashing the party.
  • The service will usually be somewhere between okay to bad depending on your ajumma server but expect the latter closer to weekends and peaks hours.
  • The interior and exterior will most likely be outdated, slightly drab, and possibly filled with soju and maekju posters of sexy celebrities.
  • Bypass the yangnyeom chicken 양념치킨 (sweet sticky chicken)  get the sauce on the side. You definitely don’t want your crispy bird to get soggy. 😉

“I love chicken. I love chicken products: fried chicken, roasted chicken, chicken nuggets – whatever. And going to Japan, I would see that these chicken were smoked and then grilled and then have this amazing crispy skin. ~ David Chang

Food ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★½ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Hanchu (한추)

549-9 Apgujeong-dong, Kangnam-gu, Seoul (강남구 압구정동 549-9)

Phone: 02-3446-5778

Hours: Open daily 5pm ~ 3am

Directions via Naver map: http://me2.do/I5QrMheJ

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