Seoul Chicken Brings Korean-Fried and Southern-Fried Chicken to the LES

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Justine Dungo
When Chaz Brown would visit New York City as a kid, he fell in love with the neighborhood Chinese joints, the types of places that would serve a half chicken with a side of fried rice for $5. "I wanted to put that on a pedestal," says the Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue alum. And now, he'll get his chance, albeit with a Korean twist. Brown is opening Seoul Chicken (71 Clinton Street) on Tuesday, where he'll serve Korean-fried and Southern-fried chicken to the Lower East Side.

Brown came into this address because he knew the owner, a Korean woman who was trying to figure out what to install. He suggested Korean fried chicken, and she hesitated, saying there were so many other people doing that already. When he finessed the idea a bit to give that a southern twist, she enthusiastically agreed, and the duo embarked on a fast build-out to bring the project to fruition. "It's been a quick ride to get this thing off the ground," he says.

The partners installed neon signage out front -- "it's very aggressive," says Brown -- and inside the space, they'll feature local artwork curated by David Barnett, formerly of nearby gallery Poppington. Seating is at counters that line the brick walls.

Seoul's focus is on wings coated in a variety of ways -- including in szechuan peppercorn and sea salt, fish sauce and garlic, and honey and sriracha -- but it'll also serve thighs and half and whole birds. The menu also features kimchi fries and riblets, which pay homage to the rib tips his mom used to serve at a bar in Detroit. And Brown plans to run daily fried chicken specials, featuring chicken and waffles, chicken pot pie covered in crispy chicken skin, and chicken fried steak.

Brown will also cater to vegetarians with fried cauliflower, which he says, "is what I would want to eat when I want to eat like a fat-ass if I were a vegetarian." The fried florets have been particularly popular at friends and family events, and the chef says they mimic the texture of a wing.

The food, says the chef, is ideal for snacking on while you're posted up at the bar watching sports, and he's installed a trio of televisions to encourage that kind of behavior. "I'm a big football and soccer fan," he says, and he plans to show NFL games all fall. You'll be able to dip into cocktails while you eat, or guzzle Korean beers, many of which are sold as tallboys.

Seoul plans to offer delivery and take-out, too.

See more photos on the next page.



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