Like Korean pop groups, chicken wings at Kyochon
come plain, spicy, or honey sweet, in four, eight and twelve piece configurations. Super Junior, a twelve-piece whose current partnership with the massive Korean chicken wing chain is evidenced in posters, staff uniforms, and music videos blaring from a TV on the wall, draws the rapt attention of the young clientele. How wistful the bangs, how smooth the makeup and dance moves, how fashion their vests.
How damn spicy the wings.
Kyochon allegedly invented the wing double-fry, a distinctly Korean two-part frying process, like French fries, that leaves the wings extra crispy but still moist. They have 1,000+ plus stores (but only this one in China) and a very healthy regard of themselves. The propaganda on their website tells us that Kyochon is "rewriting the history of the taste of the world"; the propaganda on the walls declares their wings " ...a nature's gift to you… so smile every one!"
And then there's this poem, slowly brainwashing you as you wait and wait and wait for your chicken wings:
Is that a pigeon?
It might explain the occasionally puny wings.
Kyochon is popular with the kids in Pudong. It's a small storefront in Thumb Plaza
, and it screams youth. Apparently, the youth are scared of big wings.
They're not scared of spice, though, or, perhaps, Kyochon is not scared of burning their customers. The Honey wings are as syrupy sweet as the 16-year-olds in lensless glasses, but the Spicy wings taste like pain. They're hotter than you'd expect a boy-band-infatuated high school girl to like. Much hotter. It's a flat, one-note burn. No vinegar, no butter, nothing. Just chicken, fried, and Korean chili sauce.
There's no blue cheese and celery to tame the heat. Instead, Kyochon serves a refreshing bowl of pickled daikon. It does the trick.
Back to the Honey wings. This is them:
Unlike the Original or Spicy wings, the Honey wings are battered, and the batter puffs them up considerably. They taste exactly like overseas takeout Chinese - the #42, Honey Chicken - which is to say, delicious.
The Original are fine too, but you've got to eat them in order. They're mild. Subtle. The garlic creeps and creeps (and stays with you all day), but they're never overpowering. Eaten before the Honey or Spicy wings, you can still appreciate the Original. Afterwards, they're boring.
A lot of the kids here don't even order the wings. They go for the "rice-coated chicken strips", which are boneless, decent, and come with honey mustard. They are just like Applebee's. Skip them.
A note of caution: Kyochon also offers the Original and Spicy wings grilled. Don't do it. Kyochon's magic is in the crispy fried wing exterior. Grilling just isn't the same.
Kyochon, 1/F, Thumb Plaza, 199 Fangdian Lu, near Dingxiang Lu. More details and a map here. Four wings, 18rmb; eight wings, 35rmb.