Fried chicken is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated meat dishes in existence. Who doesn’t like fried chicken, especially the best Korean fried chicken in Singapore? Nobody can resist its crispy batter and flavourful meat when done well. In recent years, the Korean take has joined the fray as its sub-genre.
Made popular by Korean soft power elements like K-drama and K-pop, this casual but satisfying food pairs well with beer. Hence, the birth of Chimaek, or the combination of fried chicken and Maekju (beer in Korean).
Origins of Korean Fried Chicken
Like army stew and spam musubi, Korean fried chicken was first introduced by American military troops during the Korean war in the late 1940s to the early 1950s. As turkey wasn’t native to South Korea, the US troops stationed there had to celebrate the occasion using chicken instead.
While stuffed turkey is often roasted, they fried the chicken and shared the dish with their Korean compatriots who enjoyed it. Koreans typically ate steamed or boiled chicken that’s prepared in soups or broth before discovering the frying method.
Korean Fried Chicken gained prominence in the 1970s as the country was poor prior due to the Korean war and economic growth only picked up from the 1960s. Now, Korean Fried Chicken is enjoyed by many around the world.
What is the difference between Korean Fried Chicken and fried chicken?
Fried chicken is often associated with Southern-style Fried Chicken from America. Golden-skinned from deep frying, the batter coating usually includes buttermilk and a medley of herbs.
On the other hand, there’s no definitive recipe for creating Korean Fried Chicken due to its brief history. But Korean Fried Chicken is often fried twice to attain a crunchier texture and forces the grease out from the initial fry. Establishments also prefer to use younger chickens for their tender meat.
Another difference is the gravy and sauce used. Unlike the rich peppery or country-style gravy favoured in Western-style Fried Chicken, Korean Fried Chicken pairs up with all kinds of sauces and flavoured powders. From the sweet-spicy yangnyeom and garlic soy sauces to honey butter-flavoured powder, there’ll be a flavour to suit your palate.
Here’s where you can find the best Korean Fried Chicken in Singapore.
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As its name expressed, this establishment serves both oven-baked and fried chicken. The nine-year-old business is also a combination of two Korean Chicken brands – Okkudak and Ssaldak – and the menu is categorised under these two pillars. The former aligns over-baked items while the latter focused on fried chicken.
The Ssaldak menu features fried chicken coated with rice flour instead of wheat flour, giving it a fragrant crisp. If you can’t decide between the original fried chicken or sweet and spicy, there’s the half-half option where you can taste the best of both worlds.
(Image credit: @sad_hachiko via Instagram)
Chir Chir is one of the early Korean-based Fried Chicken brands to enter the Singapore market and has built a reputation for offering more than 20 variations of fried and roasted chicken. Most of its sauces and marinades are imported from South Korea to ensure consistency.
Their signature ‘Chir Chir Mir Chir’ whet appetites with oven-roasted cajun fried chicken tenders with pasta doused in rich cream sauce and grated mozzarella cheese.
Don’t miss Chir Chir’s seasonal menu too. ‘Vampire Killer’ will increase the heat as its fried drumlets and wings are drenched in a spicy sauce with dried chillies.
(Image credit: @chirchirsg via Instagram)
Kko Kko Na Ra prides itself to be the first Korean restaurant to introduce garlic and soy sauce-flavoured fried chicken in Singapore. So where’s better to have Korean Fried Chicken than at the ‘OG’?
Besides the stripped-down original fried chicken and garlic soy, there are other mouth-watering flavours like Spicy Garlic, Cheese Sprinkle, Honey ‘Shiock’, and even Mala! The combo set (three flavours in 9 or 18 pieces) is a great choice to try the essence of Korean Fried Chicken – original, garlic soy sauce, and yangnyeom.
(Image credit: @limitedsky via Instagram)
It’s always enjoyable to pop bite-sized food into the mouth and savour them whole. The folks at More Batter Fried Chicken understands this and thus specialise in boneless fried chicken made from thigh parts.
The Halal-certified delivery-only business showcases different flavours via ‘seasons’ that spotlight countries around the world. Currently offering the Korea-themed ‘Chicflix Series’, diners can choose from six flavours – Seaweed, Honey Garlic, Cheesy Gochujang, White Slaw, Ginger Soy and Gochujang.
(Image credit: More Batter Fried Chicken)
Brought in by two Koreans, Noh Tae-woo and Kim Jin-ho, residing in Singapore, Waker Chicken is a brand owned by Kim’s uncle in Seoul. This chain can be found mainly in the Singapore heartlands, thus giving residents an affordable option to experience Korean Fried Chicken.
Waker Chicken focus on four flavours – Original Crispy, Sweet Spicy, Soy Sauce, and Honey Butter. They also favour larger chickens, which are seasoned and brined overnight, for a moreish bite.
(Image credit: @wakerchicken.sg via Instagram)
Don’t let its name fool you, Jade Chicken actually serves legit Korean Fried Chicken made by its Korean owners. Formerly part of the Waker Chicken franchise, Jade Chicken now runs independently and expands its menu offerings to include other Korean dishes like Jjajangmyun and spicy soft tofu stew.
Besides the popular sauce options, their original fried chicken comes with three dipping sauce choices – wasabi mayo, honey mustard, and ketchup.
(Image credit: @b.m.chant via Instagram)
A hidden find in the Potong Pasir neighbourhood, 88 Chicken is founded by a Korean couple who wishes to serve authentic Korean at an affordable price. While the main draw is Korean Fried Chicken, they also offer other Korean favourites like army stew and Seafood and Kimchi pancakes.
Here, the fried chicken, in original and sweet-spicy, coats on a thin batter which makes it easier to taste the juicy and tender meat. Those who prefer a meaty bite can opt for boneless thighs or wings. Dunk them into the mustard or soy sauce dip for an extra kick of flavour.
(Image credit: @88chicken_sg via Instagram)
Nestled among the drinking joints and seafood restaurants in Boat Quay is O Chicken & Beer. Besides the usual popular flavours like soy sauce and Yangnyum, they offer Carbonara, black garlic sauce, and even snow cheese powder too.
The Korean fried chicken here is adequately covered in the chosen sauce but doesn’t end up getting soaked thoroughly and losing its crispiness. For a hearty meal, you can pair the fried chicken with various Korean staple dishes like Japchae (Stir-fried glass noodles) and Seafood Pancake.
(Image credit: @monkeycravings via Instagram)
Bonchon Chicken has a global presence with over 340 locations worldwide and including more than 100 restaurants and franchise outposts across the United States. While there’s only a handful of stores in Singapore, they continue to deliver crunchy Korean Fried Chicken that’s less greasy due to their perfected double deep-fried technique.
Take your pick from Original Recipe Chicken, Spicy Sauce, Soy Garlic, or Half & Half if you can’t decide on one. The spicy sauce here is addictive as it is made of dried red chilli peppers which are then grounded into the fine smoky gochugaru powder.
(Image credit: @bonchonsg via Instagram)
Another OG restaurant which introduced Korean Fried Chicken to Singapore is Chicken Up. Here, those who can’t handle spiciness can opt for the Yangnyum instead of the spicy Yangnyum which sizzles in the mouth.
Chicken Up’s Korean Fried Chicken packs a flavourful punch too as they marinate the protein for more than 12 hours using an original recipe. The restaurant also offers unique flavours too like Salted Egg, Wasabi Mayo, and Honey Garlic, but these are limited to the popcorn chicken dish.
*Note: Chicken Up is closed temporarily for renovations
(Image credit: @chickenupsg via Instagram)
This article first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore
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