Fried chickens in the wild: Xi’an Meets the Mason-Dixon Line

Article By Alex Zheng

Fried chicken is a staple in a North American diet. The combination of greasy batter and juicy chicken meat are a match made in heaven. Southern fried chicken is undoubtedly the most popular form back home, as evidenced by the numerous fried chicken franchises there: Church’s Chicken, KFC, Popeye’s Chicken and Chick-Fil-A are all ubiquitous in North American suburbs. But there’s a dirty secret in the fried chicken world: the best fried chicken comes from Korea.

Koreans were introduced to fried chicken by American GI’s and have since perfected the recipe. Using advanced cooking methods, and free of American cooking traditions, the Koreans have taken chicken-frying to another level. Gone is the craggy, crusty, inch-thick coating and replaced by an eggshell-thin, ultra-crispy crust surrounding impossibly-juicy chicken meat. When you eat Korean fried chicken you’ll be surprised at the lack of crags and crusty nubs on your plate.

When you enter a Korean fried chicken shop you’re presented with a whole lot of options. There’s the traditional honey soy sauce, honey garlic sauce, spicy sauce and just plain fried chicken. If you order plain fried chicken usually they’ll give you salt and spicy sauce on the side. Instead of coleslaw you’ll get kimchi and sour radishes to cut through the oil. Another issue is that an order of fried chicken means a whole chicken, head-to-toe. If you don’t want that, be sure to ask for white meat, or dark meat, or boneless, or just order the wings. My recommendation is a boneless chicken, half-honey garlic and half-plain. The best beers to have with it are light, so stick with German, Japanese or Korean beer. Dark ales will overpower the chicken and Qingdao is going to be too weak to match up to it. Of course, you could be more adventurous and drink soju or makgeolli (Korean rice wine) like a Korean would.

So how does one find Korean fried chicken in Xi’an? Thanks to the sizeable Korean population in Xi’an there are numerous choices here and you no longer have to go KFC or Dico’s to satisfy your stomach. Here are the best chicken shops in Xi’an:

  • If you’re in Gaoxin head over to Woodstock on Keji Si Lu (科技四路甘家寨南一门洞一排31号楼 / 31Building, Nanyimen, Ganjiazhai, Keji 4 Lu)
  • If you’re near the subway line #2 head over to郑欧巴的炸鸡屋(华东服饰广场后面杏园小区里 / Xingyuan Compound, back of Huadong Dress Square) across from Shaanxi Normal University.
  • If you’re in south Gaoxin head over to韩国康达咕爆炸鸡 at Lǜdi Shiji Cheng (绿地世纪城天地KTV2楼(靠近韩国馆) / 2F, KTV, Lǜdi Shiji Cheng) and walk around until you spy a chicken shop.
  • If you live inside the city walls then there’s a good fried chicken shop near the North Gate called Pelicana at 未央路印象城2楼 / 2F, Yinxiang Cheng Shopping Mall, Weiyang Lu.

So you’ve already eaten Korean Fried chicken and you want to cook it at home? Here’s the recipe

  1. Cut your pieces of your chicken into quarters, separating the dark and white meat. Better yet just use wings only for your first time as they’re easier to work with and taste the best anyways.
  2. Your chicken needs to be washed and patted dry and then air-dried for at least 30 minutes before you start. A dry, room-temperature chicken will fry much better!
  3. Make your batter. Combine equal amounts of corn starch and flour and add just a bit of water until the batter is smooth but still thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat about 4 inches of oil in a wok and bring to a medium-high heat. When the oil is bubbling lightly is best. Don’t worry about burning the chicken as the chicken will bring the temperature of the oil down
  5. Dip the chicken into the batter and make sure it’s evenly coated. When you withdraw the chicken make sure you allow the batter to drip off. Drop the chicken immediately into the oil and repeat for all of your chicken pieces. Once all of the pieces are in drop the stove to a low heat.
  6. If you’re cooking wings then at the 6 minute mark bring the heat up to a medium high for 5 minutes. If you’re cooking chicken quarters then do this at the 12 minute mark. This is known to Koreans as double-frying the chicken and it’s what allows the chicken to be juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
  7. Raise the flame on your stove and cook at medium-high heat for another 5 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for chicken quarters.
  8. Take the chicken out and let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes. Don’t worry about the chicken getting cold because that’s basically impossible. Your chicken will be much juicier if you can wait these few minutes.
  9. If you want a sauce on your chicken then buy your favourite sauce and a foos brush from the supermarket and brush on the sauce evenly after the 5 minutes resting has passed.
  10. Enjoy your chicken with some cold beer. Once you go Korean fried chicken you’ll never go back!

Alex is the owner of Caprice and has forgotten more about food than you’ve ever known. He can be reached at