From Tiny Chick to Big-Time Bird: The Story of 24 Chicken
They've got lots of fans for their crispy-juicy Korean fried chicken.
(SPOT.ph) Ask just about any student or regular from Taft's University Belt about where to get the best Korean fried chicken and you're bound to hear one answer: 24 Chicken. With its consistently crispy-crackly skin and juicy interior—not to mention a wide range of flavors and budget-friendly price points—it's not a big surprise that their take on the fried bird is such a hit. Pinoys are big fans of fried chicken and you can order it with a few taps on your phone, so we had to wonder: How did an under-the-radar chicken shop get so popular?
The Story of 24 Chicken and How Their Korean Fried Chicken Has Won Over So Many Fans
The inspiration to open 24 Chicken struck as founder Mark Gerald Ong and business partners Jeff Sy and Jefferson Uy were on holiday in South Korea. You'd be familiar with the type of fried chicken that's popular there: crispy, crunchy, perfectly seasoned, and yes, affordable. “We [wanted] everyone to savor what good-tasting fried chicken should be, with a reasonable price," says Ong.
The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Export Management alumnus and current president of the Qinghua Foods Corporation spent relatively little on domestic overhead and opened the first 24 Chicken branch along Leon Guinto Street in Malate in 2017. They initially set out to be a 24-hour delivery spot, hence the name—though this is not the case right now given the pandemic.
That first shop wasn't exactly what you'd call fancy. Rather, it was a small, hole-in-the-wall stall with limited seats, and—pre-COVID, anyway—students patiently lined up, waiting to get their fix of their chicken. Humble facade aside, their crowd-pleasing food and student-friendly prices made them a hit. They drew a steady stream of regulars, mostly students, either visiting their shop or ordering for delivery to their dorm rooms and noshing on their chicken in the midst of endless exams, papers, and presentations. More branches around the Metro followed, and eventually they expanded to Davao and Tacloban.
Dealing With the Pandemic
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic brought big changes. Almost no restaurant was spared—24 Chicken included. But Ong shares that it wasn't the loss of sales that was their main concern, as they were lucky to have loyal customers still ordering takeaway.
"The real challenge for us [was] how to safeguard our staff during this pandemic,” the entrepreneur said. They sought to protect them by strictly following standard health and safety protocols, sharing that they were ready to close branches if they felt they were exposing their employees and customers to the virus. Ong gave his crew the option not to work if they felt unsafe, and offered financial aid as needed.
Where to Order 24 Chicken
You'll find 24 Chicken on delivery apps GrabFood and Foodpanda. There's a pretty big range of choices, too, that cover different flavor profiles. Our go-to is the Yangnyeom (starts at P114/with rice), which draws you in with a savory-sweet profile before ending with a kiss of heat. The Jack Daniels (starts at P114/with rice) is another popular choice with a distinct depth of flavor, possibly from the use of the whiskey of the same name.
But you don't want to miss their other flavors, either. The Lemon Glazed Chicken (starts at P114/with rice) has a bright and citrusy profile that complements the chicken's well-seasoned interior, while the 24 Cheddar (starts at P117/with rice)'s got a powdery, cheesy coating that has us licking our fingers—er, chopsticks. And when all else fails, their straightforward, un-glazed Original Chicken (starts at P110/with rice) always, always satisfies with its balanced seasoning and crispy-juiciness.
For orders, find 24 Chicken on GrabFood or Foodpanda. You can also check out their Facebook page.
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this strange new world.