And a Much Anticipated Visit to Suwon’s Fried Chicken Street (수원 통닭거리)
After my first ever Suwon day trip from Seoul last year I was so excited to go back as soon as I could. As much as I enjoyed exploring Suwon’s Hwaseong Palace (화성행궁) and its magnificent fortress, I missed out on a place I should’ve visited the first time. And that is Suwon’s Fried Chicken Street!
This year I had a chance to visit South Korea earlier than usual. And also my wife tagged along with me. It’ll be her first ever trip in South Korea. So I had to make it special.
With her in hand we headed back to Suwon for another day trip from Seoul. But will we be feasting on some of the best fried chicken this side of South Korea?
A Little Background on Korea’s Fried Chicken
First off in South Korea; fried chicken, which is usually enjoyed with a frosty mug of Korean draft beer is not unique to Suwon. Particularly in some of Seoul’s neighborhoods. If you randomly threw a rock in Myeongdong or Namdameun, chances are you’d hit a chicken and beer restaurant or “chi-maek” (치맥).
The fried chicken and beer combination is not just unique and famous in Suwon. What is unique however is that Suwon has a street dedicated to chi-maek restaurants with hordes of loyal local customers often waiting on queues to feast at their favorite local joint.
Now I have no clue about which chicken and beer restaurant is the best one in Suwon. So I googled and came across several travel blogs like this blog and on a few South Korean travel information websites. I quickly browsed through the info and found a lot of recommendations for the best fried chicken restaurants in Suwon.
As much as I respect other bloggers’ opinions I also like to do my own culinary explorations. There’s no secret to how I find good restaurants in unfamiliar territory.
I peek into a restaurant and if I see no local customers, I leave. If I peek inside and see a fair amount of locals I proceed. It’s as simple as that. It has always worked. Well most of the time…
Jin Mi Chicken Restaurant in Suwon
Address: 50, Paldal-ro 1-ga, Paldal-gu, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do
With a little detective work I deduced that that Jin Mi Chicken first opened back in 1981. Or rather I just read it from the store front sign. Anyways, it seems like many of the most popular fried chicken shops in Suwon all have a long history in the business of providing fried chicken to the hungry masses.
And what’s supposed to be unique in Suwon is the restaurants fry their birds outside where onlookers can smack their lips while waiting on queue.
I did not see such a thing happening. But then again we were visiting in late November. And the temps was a chilly low 50°F (10°C) degrees with wind. Not ideal for frying chickens I tell you. So no surprise to see them frying chickens in a kitchen. But I can imagine the spectacle and fanfare of cooking outdoors.
Does Jin Mi Chicken serve some really good lip smacking fried birds? I dug in first on the unseasoned fried chicken to check out the coating. For my own personal taste, the coating is too thick. And it needed some seasoning like salt. Okay, granted a small plate of salt and pepper is provided and meant for dipping solves the problem.
We also ordered a half plate of seasoned chicken which was supposed to be a spicy sweet sauce. It was sweet but it certainly wasn’t spicy. Good news is the chicken wasn’t dry. Overall, it’s not bad fried chicken. We still managed to scarf down the two plates. It’s just not what I had expected is all.
You’ll also see that the chicken bits are all chopped up. Not all pieces are recognizable like you’d see at Kentucky Fried Chicken. There will even be a chicken neck in there. Even a handful of fried chicken gizzards is thrown in for extra protein.
No one speaks English inside. However there is this big menu board on the back wall with clear and simple prices.
We didn’t have any beer because it was early evening and the meal came out to 15,000KRW or $13US dollars. A 500cc of Korean draft beer cost 3,000KRW or $2.50USD.
So I tried Jin Mi Chicken, one of the city’s most well known fried chicken joints. Sad to say I’m not crazy about their fried Chicken.
But there are many more fried chicken restaurants in Suwon to try out of course and I will certainly be back again to check them out!