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Tommy, February 25 2024

Korean Fried Chicken Wings

Do you classify Korean fried chicken restaurants as “chicken wing destinations?” Do you go out of your way to satisfy a wing craving at any one of the many Korean chicken spots that are popping up all over the country? Maybe you should.

As we continue to research and explore all things chicken wings, we’re noticing many Korean spots being written about in different “Best Wings” blogs. Many of these restaurants feature only one or two flavors (normally a spicy and some type of soy garlic), but they’re so out of the norm - and so delicious - that people are starting to lean in.

Let’s dissect the phenomenon. 

The “traditional” restaurant chicken wing is normally (hopefully) cooked from fresh in an oil fryer. In many cases they are partially (par) baked in advance, refrigerated and flash fried to order. Enter the Korean fried chicken wing.

Not to be confused with the Korean BBQ wing sauce, the traditional Korean chicken wing is typically seasoned with spices including salt and sugar, and marinated in a buttermilk batter before being dredged with potato starch. It is then oil fried, spiced again and then deep fried a second time. In the case of restaurants that offer multiple sauce options, which are few, the wings would then be hand brushed, plated and garnished. 

The Korean-style cooking process accomplishes a few things. First, the wet batter marinade (or brine) not only adds flavor but also tenderizes the chicken to ensure juiciness. The potato starch guarantees crispiness and the double fry removes most of the fat from the chicken to eliminate greasiness. 

Korean spots are becoming very popular in big cities like New York and Boston and LA, but they’re catching on all across the nation like wildfire. 

South Korea’s biggest chain - bb.q Chicken - is currently the #3 fastest-growing food franchise in the United States behind only Crumbl Cookies and Dave’s (not Korean) Hot Chicken.

With over 3,500 locations in 57 countries, one of the things that separates bb.q Chicken from the pack is that they offer a dozen wing flavors on their menu. In addition to some popular US flavors they offer interesting Asian flavor bombs like Gang-Jeong (a soy-based sauce with extra spice thanks to a cinnamon blend), Galbi (a savory and smoky Korean classic with green onions and sesame seed garnish) and Gangnam Style (a spicy black pepper sauce with garlic and onion). How about Cheesling, which is dusted in a rich medley of sweet cheeses? Incidentally bb.q doesn’t stand for barbecue. It means “best of the best quality,” and it works. 

Don't confuse bb.q with the fast-food Kentucky Fried Chicken atmosphere either. Think super nice, super clean, bar/restaurant atmosphere where you can even watch sports while you eat. This. Is. A. Wing. Destination. 

Another popular Korean spots growing in the US is Pelicana Chicken (which we feature as one of NYC’s finest on our Manhattan Wing Trail). Pelicana started a few years before bb.q in South Korea and also has over 3,000 locations worldwide. With nearly 30 US franchises to date (nine in New York City), it's beginning to grow rapidly.

Bonchon is another rapidly expanding Korean chicken destination which started growing in the US twenty years ago. In our Wingaddicts visit to Bonchon in New Haven, CT we were immediately taken aback by the modern look and feel of the bar and dining area (not to mention the insane smell of food when we walked through the door!) While they only offer two wing flavors on their menu (Spicy Korean and Soy Garlic) they were both out of this world, especially paired with pickled radishes and other interesting Korean sides.

If you haven’t driven through town and noticed a Korean fried chicken restaurant yet, chances are you soon will. And it doesn’t need to be one of the aforementioned franchise spots. We highly suggest you stop in for a visit and give these Korean wings a try for yourself. But don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach! If you normally eat a dozen “traditional” wings in one sitting, you should probably set your expectations on six of these. And don’t forget the kimchi slaw on the side! 

Wings up! 


Tommy Wyatt is co-founder of Wingaddicts and author of  this “Under the Wingfluence" blog. He can be reached directly by email at 

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