kayaチキン Kaya Chicken

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The Japanese love fried chicken (and really, who doesn’t?), and Tokyo offers any number of variations of this deliciously crunchy, batter-dipped staple of comfort food, from home-grown karaage and chicken tatsuta to KFC (which the locals associate strongly with Christmas dinner, interestingly enough—but that’s a story for a different Highlight). Despite the dish’s popularity, however, one has to be somewhat diligent to find variations originating from countries other than Japan, the US and China, and being a fan of Korean-style spicy wings I was fortunate enough recently to stumble upon a little place near the backside of Shinjuku that serves excellent specimens thereof.

Located on the second-floor of a non-descript building in Shin-Okubo, Kaya Chicken offers up several different kinds of yangnyeom (as the Koreans call it), fried twice to give the skin an amazing crispiness while imparting a level of tenderness to the meat that’s difficult to recreate with other styles of fried chicken. You can get your chicken (fried whole and available as is or in half-sized portions) done up with Korean spicy miso paste (kochujan in Japanese), soy sauce and garlic or honey and toasted sesame seeds—personally I ordered a mix plate of all three to enjoy the incomparable satisfaction that comes from the combination of spicy and sweet. Wash it all down with a cold beer or soju (Korean rice wine) and you have yourself an authentic taste of Seoul food in Tokyo.
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