(with sweet and spicy sauce) and sauceless original
Korean fried chicken topped with lots of spring onions!
What happens when eating with foodies -- the food
(in this case, a beautiful cheese egg roll) has to be
photographed before it can be cut up and consumed! ;b
Earlier today, I went on my second hike in four days -- and this despite the visibility being on the low side (as in I couldn't see the Kowloon Hills from the Central Piers) and the weather being on the muggy side (and rain pouring down while I was having my post-hike dinner). Some people might think this excessive but I felt a need to get in some more calorie-burning exercise this afternoon on account of my having pigged out quite a bit in the first few days of this Chinese New Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram!
As an example, on the second day of this Chinese New Year, five friends and I went for a Korean fried chicken-heavy feast at the Hong Kong Island branch of the ultra popular dining and drinking establishment known both as Lee's Family Chicken and Chicken Hof & Soju. (For the record, on the front of the restaurant, "Lee Family" is written in Korean and Chinese characters (but not English), and "Chicken Hof & Soju" in English (but not Korean or Chinese)!).
After twice trying -- but just not being patient enough to wait for hours -- to get into its original Tsim Sha Tsui branch, I was really excited to discover a few months back that the Hong Kong Island of Chicken Hof & Soju (as I'll henceforth refer to it in this blog post) takes reservations. However, when one of my friends tried to make a dinner booking for the second day of Chinese New Year, he was told that this wouldn't be allowed -- because the restaurant doesn't take reservations on Friday nights! Still, rather than give up on our Korean fried chicken Chinese New Year feast plans, we just decided to eat early to beat the crowd -- and were happy to find that we could walk straight into the place when we got there a little before 6pm!
The previous times I've eaten Korean fried chicken (including in South Korea with my mom, and at Fairyland with my mom and a friend), there weren't so many people in our party. So I was really looking forward to trying a greater variety of KFC -- and I don't mean the fried chicken made according to a certain Kentucky colonel's recipe -- this time around!
But because three of our party were trying it for the first time, we felt that we had to first go for the two classic styles -- the sauceless original (which both the blogger behind The Fragrant Harbour and I think Chicken Hof & Soju does better than Fairyland) and chicken with sweet and spicy sauce (which, after having had it twice now at Chicken Hof & Soju, I definitely think that Fairyland does better). Still, this time around, we did go ahead and order a third style of KFC: the spring onion fried chicken -- which really is just original Korean fried chicken topped with spring onion...and yet, I really did feel that the spring onion addition truly does make the dish taste even better!!
A friend who's never had Korean fried chicken asked me how it differs from other fried chicken. I'd say that -- be it made and eaten at Fairyland or Chicken Hof & Soju, Hong Kong or South Korea itself -- Korean fried chicken is noticeably less greasy than other types of fried chicken, is not as thickly covered with batter, and has significantly juicier (and therefore tastier) meat.
Although I would have happily continued the Korean chicken odyssey (in particular, I'd love to try to the cheese hot sauce chicken and rice cake dish that's also on the menu of Chicken Hof & Soju at some point), the majority of the group appeared chickened out after this. So while we did order more dishes, they were all of the non-chicken variety -- and happily, they all were pretty good!
Actually, the very first dish we ordered that evening at Chicken Hof & Soju was some dried squid -- tougher than the Chinese and Japanese versions I've had, but good to chew on while waiting for everyone in our party to arrive. Then after the chicken dishes, we went ahead and ordered a Korean kimchee pancake (that, when it came, we decided seemed more like pizza than any pancake we knew!), a soft egg tofu concoction (that tasted far better than it sounds and looks!), and a cheese egg roll (that seemed like a super thick egg omelette with a thin layer of cheese inside it)!
While I'd never go to Chicken Hof & Soju just to eat the non-chicken dishes, they weren't too bad at all -- especially compared to the salad that two friends and I had ordered on a previous visit and never ever will again. In particular, I liked the kimchee pancake a lot -- and thought it really tasty when drizzled with the tangy sauce that came with it.
Also going well with all of the food was some alcohol -- of course! While others in my party opted for maekgolli, I stuck to beer -- specifically, draft Asahi. With advance apologies to fans of Korean alcohol: I don't think South Korean beer is as good as Japanese beer. And after trying maekgolli twice now, I still have not got a taste for what seems to me like an alcoholic cross between yoghurt and sour rice liquid! Indeed, the two sips of maekgolli that I had were easily the worst part of the otherwise very enjoyable meal as far as I was concerned! ;b