Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Somebody Needs To Get Henry Hong Drunk In Ellicott City So I Can Hear About Local Chicken

The City Paper's Henry Hong wrote about Korean fried chicken this week and even created his own recipe for glazed, double-fried wings to serve the food-writer "trend" that has bounced around for several years.

Hong contrasts fried chicken sold by takeout spots with the actual "from-Korea" Korean variations.  He bemoans the lack of Korean fried chicken in Baltimore.  Says he had to go to Annandale for Bon Chon.

Annandale?  Can someone get Hong really drunk and take him to Rainpia in Ellicott City?  I say "drunk" because Rainpia is a Rte 40 bar and because I find quasi-kidnapping is the best way to get a newspaper reporter to come to Howard County.  (You can't imagine how much Cristal it took to get Richard Gorelick to Facci.)

I know that Rainpia sells Korean fried chicken -- whole chicken, chopped into pieces, glazed with a sweet-spicy sauce.  I loved that chicken, and it's the best of a few that I have tried along Rte 40.  I'd love to know if there is some difference between Rainpia and Bon Chon other than the locale.

Rainpia isn't exactly on trend because the food-writer trend was fast-food style chicken outlets like Bon Chon.  But the chicken there certainly sounds just like what Hong's recipe was trying to replicate.  It's a pretty relaxed bar so, if you're comfortable in a Looney's or a Green Turtle, then you could just go for the chicken.

(Update: See below that Hong comments as "foodnerd" and does compare Rainpia's chicken to the Bon Chon style.)

Thanks to Brian for the link.  Thanks to Hong for the recipe and the thoughts on why this chicken is so good.  Hong says in the article that "apparently a KoFC place is opening up soon inside the HMart in Catonsville."  I think I have been walking past fried chicken there for years.  In the back right corner?  I feel like they have sold takeout Korean fried chicken on-and-off for years.  Anyone been there recently?


Sarah said...

Love it. They have City Paper distribution out here after all- they must figure there's some semblance of an audience here.

foodnerd said...

Sup! Rainpia's chicken is slightly different imo, not quite as durable a crust. The fried chicken that was originally in hmart was called toreore, and it was cut up pieces in a highly seasoned batter. From what I understand, the new place will be making chicken more in line with what I describe in my piece this week. And I'm in EC fairly often, I've got family out there. I am korean after all, haha.

Mo said...

Now I really want some fried chicken.

This is, by the way, possibly the best post headline I've read in a while :)

Gorelick said...

NO WAY was it Cristal. And everyone knows that I'd WALK to Ellicott City for Rum Raisin ice cream.

1000yregg said...

Rainpia's chicken is no way the same as Bon Chon's. I tried it based on your recommendation and while it was good, I noticed their frying took only a few minutes where Bon Chon's takes minimum 30 minutes in order to get the skin rendered crispy.
The place I saw next to H Mart with the coming soon fried chicken sign was Two Youngs. They told me they hope to start up this month.

brandon said...

Great article, I'm looking forward to trying the home recipe.

So I only have one data point to compare, but the only Korean Fried Chicken restaurant I tried in Seoul this summer (Two Two Fried Chicken) was nothing like Bon Chon, and looks much more like the pictures that have been posted of Rainpia (I haven't been able to try it yet).

Whereas fresh Bon Chon chicken has the very crispy skin that everyone has commented on, the chicken in Korea had a softer skin not much different than you'd find at pretty much any fried chicken restaurant but maybe a little more seasoned and a little less greasy than average. It was served with a fantastic dipping sauce (not terribly dissimilar to a sweet chili sauce that you would get here) that made the dish.

Before you ordered, the chicken was already sitting on a rack and had clearly been through the first frying cycle. Then when ordered the chicken was dropped back into the fryer and was done in a few minutes.

Of course that one restaurant may not be representative of other fried chicken restaurants in Korea, although I checked the internet after the fact and it seems to be fairly highly regarded, but I'm really curious now to try Rainpia to see if it's similar to what I remember. I'll also look forward to trying the chicken in H-Mart when available.

Soo said...

I've had Korean fried chicken in Los Angeles and Rainpia in EC isn't the same. The crust at Rainpia seems slightly thicker like they used wheat flour instead of rice flour or cornstarch mix. I like the fact they remembered the moo (sweet quick pickled white radish), but they need to add tdahk-kwang (yellow pickled radish)too! Rainpia still has good chicken that isn't greasy and is super duper crunchy! The soy-chili-sweet sauce is good on the side. My son loved it and said it was the best BBQ sauce he's ever had. *Shrug* well alright then!