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Korean Fried Chicken Is Having a Moment in Metro Detroit

Prepare for an invasion of restaurants serving the other KFC

Wings slathered in gochujang wrapped in paper Bonchon

Bonchon, the popular South Korean fried chicken chain, is set to open its first Michigan location in Farmington Hills in October 2021.

A local franchise team for the restaurant chain secured a lease at 27907 Orchard Lake Rd. It’s one of five Bonchons planned for Michigan, with another to follow in metro Detroit in 2022. With a name that translates to “my hometown” in Korean, Bonchon was founded in South Korea in 2002 and expanded into the U.S. in 2006. The chain currently has more than 110 U.S. locations.

In Michigan, it will join Kimchi Box, a Korean fried-chicken restaurant that launched in February 2021 in Sterling Heights and in July in Plymouth Township. More Kimchi Box fried chickens are expected soon in Novi and Auburn Hills.

Spicy and double-fried chicken is having a moment locally, as well in the United States with more locations serving the other KFC, known as yangnyeom dak, in fast-casual restaurants, as K-pop and K-drama become global phenomena. Fried chicken is one of the most popular dishes in South Korea, so much so that the expression chimaeg, a mashup of fried chicken (chi) and beer (maekju), has become the standard meal shared during South Korean corporate gatherings or nights out on the town. The number of fried chicken places in Korea has skyrocketed in recent years to outnumber McDonald’s outlets worldwide.

Korean fried chicken differs vastly from American-style chicken in that it has a thin outer layer made using potato starch, and is double-fried to get that extra crispy crunch. Korean chickens also tend to be smaller than their pumped-up American cousins, and wings and drumettes usually are dipped in salt and brushed with a pungent and sticky soy garlicky sauce or with gochujang, a thick and spicy-sweet crimson paste made from red chile pepper flakes. Don’t use chopsticks? Extra napkins and hand wipes will be necessary. To help cleans the palate and take some of the heat off, pickled daikon radish cubes often are served alongside the chicken.

Also coming to the area is Noori Chicken, which serves Korean fried chicken in Grand Rapids and Virginia. It’s headed to 1 S. Main in downtown Clawson, according to the chain’s website. An opening date for the Clawson restaurant has not been publicly announced.

Where to get Korean fried chicken

Bonchon, 27907 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills, opens in October 2021.

Hola Seoul, 2947 E Big Beaver Rd., Troy

Jinji Korean Cuisine and Soju Bar, 27566 Northwestern Highway, Southfield

K-BBQ, 5758 N Canton Center Rd, Canton

Kimchi Box, 13937 Lakeside Circle, Sterling Heights; 47429 Five Mile Rd., Plymouth

Noori Chicken, 1 S. Main, Clawson. Opening date hasn’t been announced.

Kimchi Box

13937 Lakeside Circle, , MI 48313 (586) 991-6907 Visit Website

JINJI Korean Cuisine & Soju Bar

27566 Northwestern Highway, , MI 48034 (248) 996-8922 Visit Website

Hola Seoul

39743 Grand River Avenue, , MI 48375 (248) 482-8059 Visit Website