Food

Metro Manila’s Best Korean Fried Chicken Shops

We recommend a bottle of beer or soju to go with that.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM @24chickenph/JACLYN CLEMENTE KOPPE
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We know there’s so much more to Korean cuisine than the staples, but we can’t help itthe recent flurry of Korean dramas has us dreaming of this chicken recipe. 

When talk of Korean fried chicken surfaces, the feedback has been fairly consistent: Each bite must marry the elements of glazed, crisp chicken skin with juicy and tender meat, and both must lead to a punch of flavor through and through. What makes this chicken particularly special? It’s the double-fry technique, which many restaurants in Manila have since adopted and made their own.  

In this roundup, we channel our inner Kim Bok-joo and reminisce about our top picks for Manila’s best Korean fried chicken spots, all of which satisfy with every delicious bite.

1| 24 Chicken

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Crowd favorite 24 Chicken is frequented by students in the Manila area, most notably those who attend schools located at the University Belt. The folks behind this small outfit took inspiration from their own collegiate years in China where they would order quick bites from a local Korean food stall in between classes. Now back in Manila, they set up 24 Chicken, a small nook known for affordable and authentic Korean-style chicken that you can grab to go or have delivered via your friendly food delivery app. 24 Chicken offers its boneless chicken across seven different flavors and four sizes: half, whole, three-piece, two-piece.  

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Original
  • Lemon Glazed 
  • Yangnyeom with Garlic

EGI Taft Tower, Malate, Manila; 2355 Legarda Street, Manila; 2155 Legarda Street, Manila; Crown Galleria, P. Noval corner Dapitan Street, Manila 

 

2| Annyeong Chicken

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The team behind this low-key BGC-based Korean chicken stop has one goal in mind: to provide an elevated alternative to regular fried chicken that abound in the area by offering bigger and tastier portions at your convenience. Annyeong carries only limited quantities of Awesome Chicken buckets and multi-grain rice cups each day so it’s best to get in touch with them early. To do this, you can simply settle delivery details on Facebook Messenger—a quick, no-fuss arrangement perfect for office lunches, game nights, and random chicken-and-beer cravings. This is for foodies who welcome a bit of spice and crunch in their chicken.

Esquire Recommends:

  • Awesome Chicken (6-pc Korean Chicken)

Annyeong Chicken Facebook Page

 

3| Gaja Korean Kitchen

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It’s not every day you encounter reinvented takes on traditional Korean cuisine, but Poblacion’s offering, Gaja Korean Kitchen, delivers just that despite being one of the relatively new players on the scene. At Gaja, have your fix of Korean-style food done with modern techniques, as seen in unique offerings like the Kimchi Fried Chicken, Kimchi Lasagna, and Haemul Risotto. It’s possible to get lost in the restaurant’s beautifully crafted dishes, but if it is your first time here, the poultry entrees ought to be sampled, starting with the Skewered Buldak or heavily spiced chicken thighs marinated in gochujang and topped with cheese. To wrap up your K-experience, do make your way to Gaja’s speakeasy, The Odd Seoul, after dinner and wind down with a glass or two of soju-infused cocktails. 

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Esquire recommends:

  • Skewered Buldak
  • Honey Butter Chicken
  • Yangnyeom Fried Chicken
  • Kimchi Fried Chicken

8445 Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City

 

3| Big Mama 

Photo by Jaclyn Clemente Koppe.

Patrons come to Big Mama for samgyupsal and beef stew cravings, but its selection of Korean-style fried chicken has been receiving rave reviews, as well. It has about six variants offered in different cuts and portion sizes: whole, half, or value meal. You can even mix and match flavors at Big Mama and take your chicken to go with the trademark saewoo bokumbap (rice tossed with curry powder, shrimp, and vegetables) or a bottle of soju. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Yang Nyum Spicy Chicken
  • Soy Sauce Chicken 

Azotea De Bel-Air Condominium Building, Poblacion, Makati; 179 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City; Renaissance Plaza Compound, Ugong, Pasig

 

4| Kko Kko

Kko Kko is TV personality Grace Lee and her mother’s effort to introduce the diverse flavors of Korean cuisine to the local crowd. The restaurant is an extension of the duo’s kitchen experiments, which combine the distinct elements of the cuisine’s traditional and modern appeal. At Kko Kko find not just the staples such as japchae, kimbap, and bulgogi, but also other interesting bundles that are good for sharing with friends or family. The Cheese Fondue stars a melted cheese bread bowl and comes with fries, onion rings, and yang nyum chicken, while the Somaek Sets comes with boneless chicken of your choice, corn, beer, and soju. 

Esquire Recommends:

  • Yang Nyum Chicken
  • Snow Chicken
  • Boneless Cheesy Melt  

Kko Kko branches

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5| Sibyullee/ Soban K-Town Grill

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Sibyullee and Soban may be best known as the Happyfoods Group of Restaurants’ entries in the local KBBQ scene, but you can also find delicious takes on Korean Fried Chicken, which you can enjoy to your heart’s content in the restaurants’ all-you-can-eat packages, here. For a complete experience, do match your chicken with deliciously marinated pork belly slices and your choice of banchan, an array of side dishes that elevate your dining experience. 

Esquire Recommends:

  • Dak Ganjeong (caramelized boneless fried chicken)
  • Ultimate Chicken Bap
  • Spicy Korean Fried Chicken
  • Soy Garlic Korean Fried Chicken 

Sibyullee branchesSoban K-Town Grill branches

6| Chicken & Beer

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This gastropub is a popular pit stop for quick lunches and after-work drinks among young professionals, and rightfully so: Its prices are easy on the wallet. When at Chicken & Beer, you can rest easy knowing you won’t go over P500 for chicken platters that can be split among friends. For starters, its Cheeseling Chicken is a fast favoriteit’s a wonderfully cheesy masterpiece combining the rich, velvety textures of mascarpone and cheddar with crunchy chicken bits. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Cheeseling Chicken
  • Honey Chicken 
  • Soy Garlic Chicken 

The Fort Strip, 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; Tuscany, Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill, Taguig City; Mandala Park, 312 Shaw Boulevard, Pleasant Hills, Mandaluyong

7| Gochu-Gang

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This little stall at The Grid, which recently went through social media rounds with its interpretation of Parasite's Ram-don, does Korean fried chicken well, too. It only has two flavors, but each one is cooked to perfect crispy juiciness and comes with sauces that are pronounced and on point.

Esquire Recommends:

  • Sweet Soy Garlic
  • Chili Glaze

Stall No. 6, The Grid, Power Plant Mall, Makati

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QUICK BITES

These restaurants may not have Korean cuisine at the core of their dining spreads, but they nod to the classic K-fried chicken one way or another. 

1| Bad Bird’s Gochujang Buffalo Crispy Two-Fry Wings

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Bad Bird has become synonymous with its award-winning umami fried chicken, but its crispy two-fry wing selection is worth a look, too. Find here six-wing cuts tossed in your glaze of choice, including the Gochujang Buffalo, a Korean-inspired coating that leaves both spicy and sour notes after each bite. 

Bad Bird Branches

 

2| BirdBox’s Yangnyeom Chicken Box 

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Along Lane P in BGC is a gem of a takeout stall that has slowly been getting buzz from those who seek quality food at prices that won’t break the bank. Enter BirdBox, a relatively new poultry player known for its compact range of boneless fried chicken done in Japanese- and Korean- inspired sauces. The Yangnyeom is a default option for those who crave a bit of spice. As with other chicken pieces in BirdBox, you can have this on top of either rice or fries. 

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9th Avenue Corner Lane P, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

 

3| Buffalo's Wings N' Things K-Bomb/ K-Pop Wings

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Of Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things 18 sauce and rub variants, two pay homage to Korean flavors. The K-Bomb is its second spiciest offering and requires a signed waiver prior to consumption, while the K-Pop, which figures in the middle of Buffalo’s heat scale, is the restaurant’s take on the classic Korean soy-glazed chicken wings. 

Buffalo's Wings N' Things branches

 

4| Frankie’s Korean Wings

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It’s no secret that Frankie’s remains a favorite for chicken wings, and here, you can find its take on the spicy Korean chicken wings done in a rich glaze that celebrates the flavors of various spices. 

Frankie’s branches



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