Savory, sweet, and paired with a mug of cold brew, this chicken-and-beer combo has become the go-to repast for late-night cravings or simply socializing. The chi-mc or chi-mek phenomenon (“chi” is short for chicken and “mc” or “mek” for mekju, the Korean word for beer) has even spread internationally to hot spots including Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and New York. Unlike the thickly-battered, salty fried chicken familiar to westerners, the Korean version boasts a paper-thin, extra-crispy skin from its twice- (sometimes thrice-) fried technique, is seasoned to varying degrees of spiciness and sweetness, and is typically served with a side of pickled radish cubes (to counter the fiery red pepper spices). Both the Korean fried version and yangnyeom variation (the latter is usually coated with a sweet-and-sour garlic-and-red pepper flavor) come in boneless and bone-in versions, and can be found at any of the seemingly ubiquitous specialty chicken joints throughout Seoul, including Saerona Hof (522, Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu), Sai Chicken (two locations: 257-3 Buam-dong, Jongno-gu and 61-6, Dongmak-ro, Mapo-gu), Chi Mc (13 locations throughout Seoul).
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