This week, Crisp, a Korean fried chicken joint landed in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Joining the ranks of excellent Chinese, Guatemalan and Thai versions of crispy oil bathed poultry, Chicago now has a decent army of ethnic fried chicken that can hold it's own in a battle with the Colonel, Popeye, and favored local chain Harold's. Here's a run down of my favorites:
Crisp (Korean) - Seoul Sassy: Teriyaki style marinated crispy skin flecked with garlic, ginger, and pepper wrapped around succulent meat clinging to its smoky bones. Crisp also offers, bbq and "Plain Jane" versions, but Seoul Sassy is where it's at.
Spoon Thai (Thai) - Kai Thawt: This stuff is very similar in crunchiness to Crisp's version, but with more of a Thai chili and lemongrass spice kick with a deep brown crust. The accompanying tamarind dipping sauce is the perfect cooling counterpoint to the fiery skin.
Pollo Campero (Guatemalan): This chain used to be an exclusively Central American affair. But, the orange hued chili infused crust inspired so much obsession, that flights from Guatemala City to Texas ended up smelling like a fryolater, because of all the smuggled chicken contraband stowed away in the overhead compartments of fellow travelers. Chicago's Levy restaurant's bought Midwest franchise rights, and have opened a couple of franchises in the last two years.
Great Sea (Chinese): Cooks here hand cleaver chicken wings and roll the meat up in a tight ball at the top of the bone, deep fry them, and then slop on a caramelized soy, garlic, chili and fish sauce infused glaze.
Address: 3254 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (map)
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