Fried chicken and beer is a marriage made in heaven. The combination is so important in Korean life that it even has its own name: chimaek, a portmanteau of ‘chicken’ and maek-ju (beer). You can taste it for yourself at restaurants all over the city — here are our recommendations for the best fried chicken in Busan.
You can recognise Geoin Tongdak by the long line outside the shop at mealtimes — an unassuming exterior hides one of Busan’s most famous fried chicken restaurants. Most people buy chicken to take away, but the restaurant also has some seating inside. The menu is simple: plain, medium, spicy, or sweet and sour chicken. This is cut into small pieces and deep fried to achieve a crispy outside and moist, tender inside. You’re best to share with two or more people, as portions are enormous.
Less than five minutes’ walk from Seomyeon station, Chicken Kkang is a well-established chicken joint that is popular with the area’s youthful partygoers. As well as juicy fried chicken, it also serves up a spicy version of the Korean staple tteokbokki, and well-made potato fries. Expect to pay around 16,000 won (US$14.40) for a full meal.
New Sutbul Tongdak is close to Jangjeon station, only one stop away from Pusan National University. Open for over thirty years, it’s well-loved by hungry university students, who enjoy its large portion sizes and laid-back atmosphere. New Sutbul Tongdak is also a good place to try a different style of Korean fried chicken — sutbul is chicken that has been cooked over a charcoal fire, imparting flavour to the meat. Chicken is served with spicy dipping sauce and side dishes such as cabbage.
The Chicken Times is located in the popular nightlife spot of Haeundae, and is open until 5am for your late-night snacking needs. It’s famous for its crispy Korean fried chicken, but also serves other versions such as American fried chicken, spicy chicken, and Thai-inspired chicken yellow curry. The menu is laid out like an old-style newspaper, and has descriptions in both Korean and English. The Chicken Times is closed on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.
There’s no beating about the bush with this no-frills establishment: what you see is what you get, and what you get is an entire chicken cut into small pieces, battered and deep-fried until the outside is sinfully crispy. The chicken is fried a second time before being served to you. Busan Whole Chicken has been based in Seomyeon since 1965, and it’s open 24 hours, so there’s no excuse for missing out.
Kyochon Chicken Yeongju serves crispy, spicy chicken right outside Busan Station. It’s used to catering to foreigners and the menu gives descriptions in English as well as Korean. Although it’s mostly a takeaway (if you’re staying in a hotel nearby, they can arrange for it to be delivered to you), there’s a small amount of seating inside the shop. They have a variety of different fried chicken styles on offer, including a honey version.
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