The Mrs. treated us to a Korean fried chicken meal at Momofuku Noodle Bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. You get two whole chickens for a Benjamin, one fried up Korean style and southern style, and assorted condiments. They can only prepare one chicken meal at a time so reservations must be made far in advance.
It was mighty good. David Chang has a unique way of cooking the chicken which would be difficult-to-impossible to duplicate at home. It’s brined, then sweated in a steam filled oven of the type used for bread baking until it reaches an intenal temperature of 160 degrees (I think… Chang says it is cooked at 160 degrees but that doesn’t make sense because it wouldn’t produce steam). Only then is it battered and fried. This process somehow makes the batter and skin adhere to the meat instead of peeling off like it usually does.
The Korean style chicken had a glaze that was definitely gochugaru yet milder and less vinegary than my prep. It had cooked all the way through to the point that the smaller bones were crunchy and brittle and could be gobbled like sardine bones if one wished (I did) yet the meat was not overcooked. The southern style had a buttermilk batter with an unusual spice mix that we decided might be pumpkin pie spice but was later identified as Old Bay Seasoning.
Along with this came a big bowl of veggies for eating in a rolled up lettuce leaf, ssam-style and a container of crepes/pancakes that were like the ones you get for moo shu pork but thicker. And lots of condiments for dipping and pouring on. We tried all the combos and there was no way to avoid a gloriously messy eating experience. (Our table, unlike others, was covered in butcher paper in anticipation of our arrival.) These were proud, meaty birds, raised I am confident in a happy manner at one of the farms listed on a blackboard as you come in, and even the wings had plenty of meat.
The most distinctive part of the meal actually came at the end, when I was in a food coma so unable to photo it. Chang has acquired a soft serve machine and presents unusual combinations, consisting today of a beet/lime combo crossed with yogurt and served on a bed of pistachio crumble. Incredible.