The other KFC: Korean Fried Chicken in the heart of Sathorn
Fried chicken is South Korea’s most loved dish. Recently, it has been on an international journey of sorts, showing the world that the simple dunk-and-fry treatment is no longer acceptable. Chicken drumsticks and buffalo wings have been tossed aside for something greater and the likes of David Chang have helped in promoting the Korean variety, even dedicating an entire episode of his Ugly Delicious series to fried chicken.
Different versions have come out of different cultures around the world, but it’s yangnyeom dak (Korean fried chicken) that’s moving ahead of the pack and establishing fried chicken as the go-to choice for ravenous, flesh-chomping wing enthusiasts. Fried chicken is also a popular street food staple in Bangkok. There are, however, few local vendors who take an approach to frying chicken quite so seriously as Gaja Korean Gastrobar.
Occupying the position of both chef and coffee roaster, Kim Taehyung opened Gaja with his wife in April last year andset about introducing the city to GaBeans from Seoul and Korean Fried Chicken.They roast their own beans and cook everything in-house. Over time, they began to serve more coffee varieties along with an extensive list of cocktails, and began to add other Korean favourites to their kitchen repertoire, such as Black Jjimdak (B420) and Kimchi Fried Rice (B220), but it’s chicken that’s king. Newmarinates were added—hot-sweet, honey-garlic, black soy—and in my opinion, they now serve the best wings in the city.
Patriotic zeal might compel you to stand steadily behind Thai wings, the deep-fried street staple of millions, but get your chops around half-a-dozen Spicy Gaja Red Wings, and I’m convinced you’ll change your mind. Choose from either small (x5 B155), medium (x10 B285) orlarge (x15 B415) servings and discover unfailingly juicy chicken, succulent on the inside and crunchy outside, glazed with one of several delicious house sauces.
The trick, I’m told, is to use fresh chickens, chilled overnight to decrease their moisture and then dunk them in thin batter before sizzling in a deep-frier of canola oil to form a lightcrust. Then—and here’s the important part—plunge into a second frier for a second time, one containing some of the dark, leftover oil from the previous days fry, in order to create a more aggressive crisp crust, one that maintains full succulent crunchiness, even when marinated or dipped into sauces.
The idea of presenting Korean flavours to a Thai crowd who already have such a steadfast dedication to street chicken is brave, but when it’s this good, it’s generous too. So go seek them out; order GaBeans coffee or a can of Peach Tok Tok, then get ready to pick, pull and tear apart some of the best chicken wings you’re ever likely to experience.
Gaja Korean Gastrobar
Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Soi 4
Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-11pm
Tel: 097 093 9992