Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Photo from eatla blog

On a trip up to Glendale, I stopped in at Kyochon Chicken, a Korean chicken place in the Glendale Galleria. The wings have been lauded by the wonderful Jonathan Gold in LA Weekly and voted his best in the fried chicken category in 2008.  The Signature wings are breaded, double-fried and then drizzled with a soy/garlic sauce. 

Few people were patronizing the place despite the generous free sample of 1 wing being offered. At the Panda, the neighboring kiosk, there was a line almost out the door. Hmmmm....perhaps its the price?? 5 wings at Kyochon is $4.99 - $1.00 a wing. Two drumsticks are $4.99. Too expensive for the market! I rarely think about the cost of anything if it's less than $5.00 and tastes good, but this high price was obvious because the portion has a count and any fool can divide $4.99 by 5 and say What???? -these wings are $1.00 each?? Too much!! A simple solution would be the addition of 1 cup of rice to the wings. The perceived value would double and it would cost them about 10 cents in real food cost.

I should add that the wings are really good. They are marinated first, then dredged in a rice flour/spice combo and double fried. For the fast food kiosk I suspect the first frying is done in bulk at various times during the day. When you order, the second frying takes place: 6 or 8 minutes which really crisps the coating. Finally the crisp hot wings are tossed in the sticky sauce. The sticky sauce is key because it clings but doesn't cause sogginess.

If you want to try this at home, there are many recipes on line, all quite different from each other. It seems every Korean family has a take on this dish. The coating components vary from corn starch to Wondra flour.

Kyochon has 1000 units, of which most are in Korea and China, where offering chicken croquettes as a side order makes sense - and where KFC is hugely popular. In that market, copying KFC products was probably a good business decision. Here, even at KFC, we don't usually order a chicken entree such as the wings with a side of chicken croquettes. The other side option with the bundled meals is potato wedges?? What are they thinking?  Potato wedges don't belong on this Korean menu at all. My guess it that they see this as Americanizing the menu.  What a mistake! A Korean fried chicken place carries no credibility as a place to order potato wedges. Even though it's called KFC, there is no other resemblance to our KFC's nor do I think many people would make the connection.

Kyochon could be a success with just a few adjustments - for instance changing the side options to rice and or an Asian coleslaw, both of which are lower in food cost and would be more complimentary to the chicken flavor. I hope they get some consulting help to tweak it, re-think the pricing and concentrate in this market on being Kyochon Fried Chicken.

Items on the menu board were confusing. The Crispy Rice Chicken Strip advertised on the box didn't seem to be on the board. Pictures and item descriptions didn't match. These things could all be fixed so simply. A shame.

I was surprised at the barely functional and unimaginative web site they have.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great job for "Food Smarts". Your name, alone, would get you the job.
    Seriously, why don't you? Or is being retired too much fun ?