Location: Suwon Fried Chicken Alley (수원통닭골목)
Date Visited: 2015.05.17
Description: Tucked away behind Suwon Market is Suwon Fried Chicken Alley, a strip of restaurants specializing in country-style Korean fried chicken. We were especially eager to visit after seeing it featured on several foodie adventure television shows.
Fried chicken is ubiquitous in Korea, so it’s hard to determine the borders of this delicious district. We passed maybe a dozen chicken restaurants on the 200 meter walk from Suwon Market to out destination. There may be a hundred within a one-kilometer radius. However, when we reached the epicenter of Suwon Fried Chicken Alley, an intersection flanked by hole-in-the-wall establishments with huge vats of oil outside where it’s impossible to overlook (or oversmell) the chicken as it sizzles, it was clear that this was a special place. Fried chicken is typical round-2 fare in Korea, something to pick on after the real meal, and invariably accompanied by copious amounts of draft beer to maintain the evening’s buzz. Consequently, most chicken joints–commonly referred to as chi-maek (치맥) which is short for chicken and beer (치긴 맥주)–don’t heat up until well after dark. We arrived around 1 PM, and already sizable lines were forming around the most famous establishments.
Since it was our first visit, we decided to visit JinMi TongDak (진미통닭), arguably the most prolific join on the strip, and endure the crowds and the wait to find out what all the fuss is about.
Because it was early afternoon, people weren’t drinking as much, so the turnover was fast, and we got a seat in about 20 minutes. We thought about order the fried-sauce (호라이드 양념) combo for 15,000W, but after noticing the complimentary bottle of sauce on the table, we decided to cut costs and went with the standard fried (호라이드) option for 14,000W. To quench our thirst and cut the grease, we also ordered a couple mugs of draft beer at 3,000W for 500cc.
Our verdict: delicious. I can’t recall better friend chicken anywhere in Korea or abroad. We sucked the bones clean and ultimately pinched up every crispy morsel of batter that had flaked off in the process of our feast. Seriously, we cleaned those plates so well that they probably didn’t need to wash them, although I hope for the sake of the next customer that they did.
Is it worth the journey? Probably. But perhaps it’s the journey that made it worthwhile. Everything tastes better after a grueling 20-km bike ride over countless hills and much anticipation. As mentioned above, I can’t say that I’ve tasted better, but when it comes down to it, fried chicken is fried chicken, and you might be able to find something nearly as good and probably cheaper right around the block. However, if you’re a dedicated foodie or simply someone who appreciates the journey, we don’t think you’ll regret a trip to Suwon Fried Chicken Alley. Best of all, it’s located just a few minutes from Suwon Fortress (수원화성) and other famous attractions, so you’ll find plenty of ways to make a trip out of it and burn off the excess calories.