K.F.C., Where K Stands for Korea

Todays News

Photo taken by Andrew Fabian

To the American diner, fried chicken is synonymous with cuisines of the American South. Immortalized by a Kentucky Colonel, fried chicken finds a place on just about everyone’s list of guilty pleasures alongside pizza, burgers and fries. And the K.F.C. brand, which now exists internationally with almost twice as many locations in China than the U.S., is one of the biggest and most delicious vessels in which American culture makes its way into the hearts and guts of people around the world.  

But the U.S is not the only country with a surplus of fried chicken to export. The Korean Peninsula, it turns out, has been frying chicken since olden times, and a boom in fried chicken varieties during the late 1970s saturated the streets of Seoul to such a degree that some of South Korea’s most popular fried chicken franchises—BBQ, BHC, Pelicana—have themselves found new streets to peddle their saucy signature morsels. And the most uniquely South Korean of the country’s fried chicken varieties is the yangnyeom chicken.

In the Town & Country Plaza on Beneva Road, Shilla offers this most delectable of South Korean exports in its yangnyum (or yangnyeom) chicken. Unlike American versions of fried chicken that come crispy and dry on the outside, yangnyum is smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce made of gochujang, garlic, sugar, sesame seeds and other various spices. That ample coating of sauce helps to soften the exterior of what is a crunchy breading. Rather than serve it in the fast-food style in which it is customarily served in South Korea—think ballpark food and beer—Shilla gives it a more traditional plating and tosses it with some vegetables. The result is sort of like an elevated General Tso’s dish (ironically, a dish invented stateside) in terms of its combination of sweetness, spice and crunch. 

Every entree also comes with little ramekins of kimchi, soy marinated potatoes, and sliced veggies tossed in sesame oil. More importantly, the dish helps explain why K.F.C. will probably never find a significant foothold in South Korea (as of 2014, there are only 170 franchises in the country).

Shilla, 501 N Beneva Rd., Sarasota, 941-366-9700.

Photo taken by Andrew Fabian

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