Arts & Culture

Korean Fried Chicken brings variety to Thayer

Den Den Hospitality Group’s newest eatery offers delicious but expensive Asian cuisine

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thanks to the recent opening of Den Den Korean Fried Chicken, passersby may notice a sudden liveliness near 182 Angell St. Once a quiet, infrequently traversed street, the area now serves as a backdrop to crowds of customers bustling in and out of the restaurant’s front door.

Owned and operated by Den Den Hospitality Group — the enterprise that also owns Den Den Café Asiana on Benefit Street and Kung Fu Tea on Waterman — Korean Fried Chicken opened on March 25. Even from outside, the restaurant’s white brick walls and sleek black awning radiate clean modernity and understated elegance. The interior of the building is just as tastefully furnished, featuring a well-lit two-tiered dining space filled with booths and tables, which can seat dozens of talkative diners.

Despite the eatery’s emphasis on casual dining, its menu reads much like that of a formal restaurant, containing sections dedicated to starters, entrees and desserts. The dishes themselves are far from cheap — entrees average about $12 to $15, with an “extra-large” platter of fried chicken costing a whopping $36. While these prices are hardly unexpected given the expensive menu items at other branches of the Den Den franchise, they make eating at KFC a bit of a splurge. 

Menu offerings primarily consist of Korean dishes, such as buckwheat noodles and soondae sausage stir-fry. But some also incorporate elements of Japanese-style cooking: the “Curry Katsu” dish, reminiscent of Japanese Katsu, features a cutlet of chicken, pork, fish or shrimp with a topping of Korean curry.

Perhaps justifying the lofty prices, the quality of the cuisine is top-notch. The vegetarian gyoza, pan-fried and delicately wrapped in green dough, burst with flavor; the beef stew features light noodles in a delicious mild broth; the Korean sweet potato fries are complemented wonderfully by their creamy, sweet-sour dipping sauce.

The spicy rice cakes, also known as “Tteok-bokki,” stand out in particular among the menu items. Soft and chewy, stewed with assorted vegetables in a thick, syrupy chili paste, the rice cakes encapsulate the perfect mix of sweetness, salt and spice.

In contrast, the eponymous “Den Den Korean Fried Chicken” falls short of expectations. The chicken, which comes in three varieties — Dark (Soy Garlic); Red (Spicy); and White (Lemon Cream) — lacks both flavor and savor. While the texture is delectably crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, there is nothing striking about the taste. None of the three flavors linger, and all fail to make customers crave more. All in all, the fried chicken is simply not the capstone dish expected by the restaurant’s name.

Despite its expensive menu, Den Den Korean Fried Chicken boasts a strong and varied selection of dishes, a clean and pleasant atmosphere and, most importantly, good food. Two weeks in, the latest addition to Thayer’s dining scene continues to entertain a hefty influx of customers and promises to do so for a long time.