New Restaurant Alert: Kyochon at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City
The No. 1 chicken place in Korea is in the Philippines-but without Lee Min Ho
G/F SM Megamall Building B, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) There are over 1,000 branches in South Korea, plus more around the world, but in the Philippines, there's just one: a busy black and grey cranny in "old" Megamall, which draws attention because of its stylish industrial interiors and hypnotizing glow of newness.
Lovely combination of media
Where Korean chicken joints have come to be known for its quick-service dining, Kyochon's intricate interiors invite diners to stay, eat, and admire. The aesthetic is brought over from Korea, says Lydia Lee, who’s in the Philippines from the head office to oversee operations. Rows of lights are accented by being trapped in a large cage, and the kitchen is framed by stone bricks wrapped up in wire. A photo of Lee Min Ho (their new endorser after Super Junior) is positioned in one corner as if he's surreptitiously watching over you as you eat.
The SM Megamall branch is the only one planned for the Philippines so far.
Kyochon is fine-dining in principle, but casual in execution. The whole venue is tailored to be eco-friendly and the food meticulously prepared. The chicken is fresh, never frozen, and cooked-a special double-fried technique in canola oil-only upon order. The extra measures take a slightly longer time, but the crispy batter and a flavor that seeps well past the skin are reminders that good things require a bit of patience.
The Honey Series
Wings have an uncanny tendency to be addictive, and the ones at Kyochon are no exception. The Original Series will captivate your taste buds with its brazen overtones of garlic and soy. It's an uncomplicated mix but with a flavor that’s lip-smacking. The Honey Series, Lee’s favorite, is a sweet affair, cloaked in a thick, crunchy golden batter that hides the real treasure-chicken that's still juicy and flavorful from being marinated for 24 hours.
Kyochon uses Korea's hottest chilies to season the Red Series and while the pleasant pepperiness of a first piece can be quite encouraging, the second will be in-your-face fire. (You'll probably be seeing red, but the menu does come with a disclaimer.) Scarf it down with some rice to tame the heat.
Those who can't be bothered to negotiate with bones may find ease in the strips of filleted chicken in the Soonsal Series. While the breast doesn't have as much natural flair as the wings and legs, Kyochon makes up for it with three dipping sauces (the sweet barbecue-esque Jambalaya should perk up those flavors perfectly). Each long strip is enveloped in rice batter that gives it an extra crackly edge.
Kyochon isn't exactly fine-dining as we know it, but it's definitely not quick service. With their inspired interiors and wings-you-can't-get-enough-of (the Original, of course), you'll want to sit and just keep eating.
Wings are priced P149/five pieces, P290/10 pieces, and P540/20 pieces. Drumsticks are prices P149/two pieces, P290/four pieces, and P540/eight pieces. Soonsal is P149/four pieces, P290/eight pieces, and P540/12 pieces.