Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Crispy Fried Chicken" at Pizza & Chicken Love Letter

There's fried chicken and then there's Korean fried chicken. Korean fried chicken is everything American style fried chicken is--decadent, crispy, really bad for you--but taken to higher levels of perfection.

If regular fried chicken is Toyota; Korean fried chicken is its Lexus. The Toyota will get you there, but if you had the choice, you'd take the Lexus.

The Korean way of frying poultry distinguishes itself from the way it's done in Kentucky. Theirs is a double-fry method that melts all of the subcutaneous fat and renders all skin to the thinness of film, the crispness of burnt parchment, with none of the residual chewiness or floppiness. Beneath the golden crust, the meat is unseasoned, unbrined. There's a light touch of soy sauce in the batter, but the meat tastes of pure poultry-ness.

Maybe because of the subtle soy sauce flavor, these birds seem to go really well with rice; but you must, must, must eat it with the vinegar-steeped radish pickles they give you. These pickles are essential. Each dice-sized cube resets your palate for the next bite of chicken. Think of it as Windex for your mouth.

A whole order of the "Crispy Fried Chicken" goes for $13.99 and comes with 14 small-sized pieces, which are fried to order, served extremely fresh. I saw our fried chicken craftsman poking the pieces in his fryer with a skewer, checking them for the exact point of doneness.

You'll find Love Letter in food court stall hidden inside Hmart in Irvine. It's not the only Korean fried chicken joint in that plaza, but in this blogger's opinion, it doesn't just cook the Lexus of fried chickens, it's the Lexus LFA.

Pizza & Chicken Love Letter
2600 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 852-2900

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Red O - Newport Beach

5 Comments:

At 9:40 AM, Blogger TIGER KING said...

Great write up Elmo. I used to go to this location often, it's consistently good even with all the ownership changes.

Have you tried the spicy sauce? It's really good, though it used to be spicier.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

TIGER KING,

Yes, I've been going ever since they opened and it hasn't seemed to slip despite the new owners and re-grand openings.

I need to try that spicy sauce! Haven't yet! I imagine it to be gochujang-based?

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger TIGER KING said...

Yes the sauce base is gochujang, sugar, lots of garlic, and spices (the current owners seem to be using cayenne)

It's better than BBQ's sauce (TBH that isn't saying much) and about just as good as Kyochon's used to be, though different

 
At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Hmmm, would you say Pizza & Chicken Love Letter is better than BBQ Chicken? Any other favorite Asian fried chicken joints in OC?

And have you tried Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. in Monterey Park yet?

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Yes! Definitely! I like Love Letter better than BBQ Chicken!

And Tokyo Fried Chicken! That sounds awesome. Curious on what the Japanese can do with chicken!

 

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