Inspired by six friends and their love for some good ‘ol fried chicken, and led in the kitchen by Senses chef Vincent Leung (recent guest judge on Top Chef Canada), Dubon Chicken has taken over Elle M’a Dit Restaurant in Baldwin Village for the past couple days (the takeover ends this evening). After a massive influx of reservations several weeks ago, the Dubon Chicken crew decided to expand from two to three nights for their affair. Thus, after my lackadaisical attempt to secure a spot for myself, I was left with a late-evening 9:45pm reservation on night one. Happy to just make it in the door of the cute little restaurant, Dubon Chicken proved to be well worth the effort (albeit, little effort) it took to make it out.
Though I did have to do a little bit of pre-noshing at Pizzeria Via Mercanti in Kensington Market, I made sure to keep my belly ready for all the fried chicken goodness that was in store. The secret to the heavily tested Dubon Chicken recipe is that they deep-fry the wings not once, but twice, to create an uncompromisingly crispy texture. The process is based on many popular chicken joints around South Korea and helps to seal in all of the flavour of the chicken without saturating the meat with oil and grease.
Because of my time living in Korea, I’ve eaten my fair share of the fried bird in all of its varying forms, so I was especially excited to try out their breed. Available in two distinct flavours, the entire menu had a mere three options (not complaining!) so, of course, we had to order everything!
A couple of Kirin Ichiban beers to begin were par for the course, and we dug in to an order of toragashi spicy fries ($6) as quickly as they could get them to the table. Tossed with crispy fried garlic and fresh shallots, the matchstick fries were served with an excellent spicy mayo dipping sauce.
Though the fries were nice, we were here for the chicken – brushed with either soy garlic sauce or fiery pepper sauce, the wings (sm $13, lrg $22) were as crunchy and juicy as promised. I’ve found that in Korea there are two primary ways they do their fried chicken: plain or super saucy. (I say primary as there are dozens of different preparations.) Often sprinkled with sesame seeds or garnished with green onion, I must admit, I have a particular affinity to a saucy wing. While Dubon Chicken’s mantra is to go light on the sauce and brush each wing individually, I felt that it could have used an extra coat or two.
That being said, the flavour was awesome – the fiery pepper wings had a nice sweetness on the tongue to begin with a mild heat coming on as you chewed. Both sets of wings came alongside a tangy, creamy Asian coleslaw and mooli-mooli (pickled radish) that did well to cleanse the palate between bites.
The soy garlic wings were my favourite of the two. With a drool-inducing medley of salty soy sauce with a biting garlic flavour that didn’t overwhelm, it was truly a delicious wing.
Well executed and with great, super friendly service, with the thought in mind of perhaps opening up a more permanent operation in the future, Dubon Chicken is doing market research right, asking patrons to fill out a quick survey along with the cheque. Though by this point they already know… if they’re coming back, so will I!