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kyochon chicken1

[UPDATE: Kyochon has closed. For excellent Korean friend chicken in New York, try BonChon, which is located a few steps from where Kyochon was.)

Of course, I never heard of Kyochon. But when I was walking by it with my pal Matt, he said, “Oh…Kyochon!” To me, it looked like another fast-food restaurant. And normally, I’m not a fan of fast-food, but Asian fast-food? Sign me up! So much of their food lends itself to quick service: noodles, fried chicken, sushi, and croquettes.

kyochon menu mattarmendarizatkyochon

Fast-food, or course, has taken on a somewhat different meaning. But ‘fast’ doesn’t have to mean ‘bad’, it just means that it’s food that can be prepared and served quickly. And many ethnic meals, from French crêpes, Mexican tacos, Hawaiian plate lunch, to Japanese bento, are good examples of fast, and healthy, fare.

rice ball at Kyochon

Unlike any taqueria I’ve even been to, when you enter Kyochon, a sleek, trim hostess at the podium greets you. At night, you can decide if you want to eat upstairs and get waited on, or downstairs, where it’s take-away or eat at the long counter. Lunchtime is a free-for-all, and it’s counter service, then you find a place to park it on your own.

kyochon chef kyochon chicken

A bunch of my friends who were here for a conference played hooky to have lunch with me (and have doughnuts, too), and Jaden, Elise, Matt, Adam, and I ordered just about everything on the menu, along with plenty of pickled daikon (white radish) for the inevitable ‘cool down’, that I was warned would be necessary.

bloggers at Kyochon

My first clue that something was wrong right was that Matt couldn’t eat his Signature Chicken Wings. His normally cheery face turned a fiery-red, and his eyes were watering due to their spicy heat. There is a warning on certain menu items, “For people that can handle the heat!” Tell me, what other fast-food restaurant warns their customers of the true, chili-inspired heat? This ain’t the insipid hot sauce they give out in those squidgy little packets at Taco Bell. (And in case you need more, they have a few house-made sauces that you can help yourself to. I took a glug of the garlic-lime.)

chicken kyochon hostess podium at kyochon

I ordered the Bi-Bim-Bap Rice Ball, a mixtures of sticky rice and bul-gogi chicken, which even though they said was sautéed with their “fiery Korean Red Chile Sauce” wasn’t as hot as the wings, and watching my dining companion on fire, I was a little grateful. (Although I do love spicy food.)

I also went with the Original Sal Sal Chicken Strips, which had a fast-foody ‘vibe’, being strips of chicken, rolled into long cylinders, and deep-fried, along with Chicken Croquettes.

matt at Kyochon

The flagship outpost of this Korean chain is a high-tech marvel. Once you step inside, you realize this isn’t your ordinary fast-food joint, unless you live in Asia perhaps. It’s one of the things that make New York City so great; so many international restaurants set up shop here, and you can spend a few weeks in this city, but feel like you’ve been to a lot of places. Now I just need to decide which place I’m going for lunch. And dinner.

319 5th Avenue (at 32nd Street)
Tel: 1-212-725-9292

New York City Dining & Travel Notes



    • catty

    i FREAKING LOVE KYOCHON. would absolutely 110% give my first born for endless supply of KyoChon. For real.

    • Cajun Chef Ryan

    Hey David, another place to add onto the “todo” list in NYC the next visit. Appreciate the reviews while in the city!


    • Susan

    After all these months it’s finally open! I’ll definitely detour that way for lunch soon, though probably not for the chicken croquettes.

    • Barbra

    Doughnuts, porchetta, bbq, Korean food… At this point I would not be at all surprised if the title of your next post was “I’m Moving to New York City”.


    There is no better fast food than Chinese. Why do we all love Chinese so much? Secret ingredient: MSG?? I guess as long as they keep it a secret :)

    • Kelly-Jane

    I’d die if I ate food that spicy! Glad you all enjoyed though :)

    • christine

    always loved your posts (and book) on paris — and now that you’re reviewing restaurants in my city? EVEN BETTER!

    • Leah

    OMG Kyochon… KYOCHON!!! Korean-style fried chicken is the best, and Kyochon is definitely one of the best. sigh too bad I have to go down to LA to get some =( Since they opened one in NY, I hope SF is next…

    • Lecia

    Perhaps I’m not looking hard enough, but I can’t find your email address posted on the site, so my comment is unrelated to this post (sorry).

    I am a huge fan of your cookbooks, blog and twitter stream. I have a six year old who would like a peach cake for his birthday next week. Do you have a recipe you could suggest for a good peach cake?

    Thanks so much for any thoughts/input you may have.


    • The Teacher Cooks

    Next trip to NYC I am trying some of this spicy food!

    • ron shapley

    Fans…there’s another KYOCHONesq joint at 38th & 7th..

    • Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    Oh man. I need this place in my life.

    • Lisa

    Please ask them to come to the Midwest. That looks and sounds so good and we have so little here. Pretty please?

    • Rhubarb and Venison

    Soooo jealous.

    • Robyn


    Food Blog Search is very useful as bloggers’ comments and photos help in choosing a recipe that might suit.

    Take a look: Food Blog Search

    • Hannah

    Gosh, what I wouldn’t give for some fresh, spicy fast food in Australia! (Actually, we have a place called Sumo Salad that’s okay for freshness, but I doubt it packs the flavour punch of this.)

    Rice balls… mmm.

    • Cooking in Mexico

    What a life to find yourself in the melting pot of NYC, with the best food from all over the world. This beats the 13-hour flight to Seoul, and the food is probably just as good.

    On a visit to S. Korea several years ago, we fell in love with Koreans, their food and their beautiful country. We were ready to move there until reality set in. But I will always remember the colorful, healthy bowls of bibimbop. We ate them every day and never tired of them. The side dishes of banchan were incredible in their variety.


    • Roxanner

    i’m so glad to see you blog about kyochon!

    I went to one back in June in LA and even though i love spicy food, i thought the hot wings were waywayway too hot! i actually lost my appetite after eating two of them because the heat was so intense!

    now, if i could find something like momofuku’s korean fried chicken, i’d be in heaven. anyone know of anything?

    • David

    Roxanner: I made Maaghi’s Sweet & Crispy Chicken Wings a while back, which were excellent. They’re meant to be deep-fried, but could probably be adapted to oven roasting and basting pretty easily.

    Kathleen: A few years back, I came across a blog of an American woman living in Korea that was mostly about the food and eating out (if I recall). Unfortunately I don’t remember what the URL was or anything else about it, but that’s the nice thing about blogs: you can really go anywhere and see how people are eating. (Although they don’t deliver!)

    christine: Glad you’re enjoying the write-ups. I’ve having fun eating my way around New York City as well.

    • HannahCorea

    The original KFC?

    Korean Fried Chicken!

    (Apologies for the cheese, but it’s exciting for this Korean girl who was raised in the Midwest to see Korean food so actively embraced. Albiet, in the style of fried chicken, which no one can deny. At least no one I want to know.)

    Kyochon’s spicy wings are not joking around.

    • zenchef

    I was at Kyochon a few hours after you guys and i swear i wasn’t stalking you (i realized it on twitter later that day). Or maybe i was just stalking you inadvertently. Weird!

    • Noriko

    I was inordinately pleased to see your shout-out for Hawaiian plate lunch (I grew up on them) but I have to wonder about using them in the same sentence as “healthy.” Still…I am so missing my potato-mac salad and two scoops rice with whatever okazu available. Hmm, maybe I should think about starting a plate lunch place in Montreal…

    I feel lucky to have had Kyochon in OC before moving out here though…

    • swan

    Thanks David, your timing is fantastic, I’ll be in NY in september. Mainy to eat :-).
    I’m in Paris before that. Mainly to eat , too. Thanks for all your advices!

    • Naomi Jane

    Fast Food ?…… Why ?

    • Gali

    After my trip to Korea I will always associate Kyochon chicken with horribel Super Junior commercials :)

    • astheroshe

    I will be in NYC next weekend..sadly for only one day. You have eaten in every place I had planned to try ! Milk Bar! Shake Shack! Baked!. I wish i was going to be there longer. :( I was wondering have you tried the famous Levain Cookie? people rave about them..I really do not care for them..just curious your opinion?…and if i have time 4 and 24 Blackbirds Pie shop :)

    • G.

    san francisco needs a big helping of this kind of asian fast food!

    • Piox

    David!! Must do a taste test (or do an episode of Food Wars). The fried chicken at Bon Chon (Kyochon’s biggest competition) could possibly be better! They come really close though. They are beginning to grow in NY and have a few location but if you’re gonna go, you must go to the one on 213 W 35th St.
    Mmmm crispy, hot, slightly sweet, flavorful juicy fried chicken. I think I have to go get some right now!

    • Memoria

    I’ve yet to try much Korean food. This place looks tempting. If I ever go back to NYC, I will try out this restaurant. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. “Taquería” has an accent on the “i”.

    • Andy

    For a minute I thought David was in LA. Kyochon has been in LA for quite a few years, even with some stores having opened and succumbed due to lack of customers. I’m happy to see Kyochon in NY and such a nice looking store too.

    • sandy

    Korean croquetes???????
    I never heard of these, but… why not, I mean, I make Cuban Fried Rice


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