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A closer look at the evolution of fried chicken could easily be a case study of our ever-changing, multicultural history. Originally a European cuisine reaching back to the medieval period, Scottish settlers brought their recipes for frying up cluckers across the Atlantic to the Americas. Once introduced to the United States, the dish became deeply embedded in Southern culture and cuisine, rising to national popularity with Colonel Sander’s Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Meanwhile, here in present day Los Angeles, fried chicken is going through a renaissance by way of Asian cuisine, with Japanese karaage (kah-rah-ge) and Korean chicken places popping up all over. Jumping on the bandwagon, or into the coop as the case may be, I stopped into Kyochon in Koreatown, long lauded by Jonathan Gold as the “Best Fried Chicken.” Kyochon does fried chicken five ways, freshly made to order in a fast-food style: Signature Soy Garlic & Hot & Sweet Wings, Grilled Wings, Honey Wings, Drumsticks and Sal Sal Chicken Strips.
My party of three ordered the 25-piece Sampler, which allowed us to try every style. A far as I could tell, they all tasted pretty much the same, with a tender, moist chicken base and flavorful finishes. The standout was the Hot Wings. Fans of fiery foods will thrill in the layering of sweet honey, soy and garlic, topped off with the spicy effect and after effect of the Korean chili paste, gojuchang. The chili left a warm, tingly feeling on my lips and throat, which I washed down with some bites of rice and crisp, refreshing daikon radish.
There’s something going on in the 99 Cents Store parking lot in Highland Park. And it involves food. Every Tuesday night from 5:30 to 9, Figueroa Produce hosts Din Din A Go Go, billed as a “weekly food truck feast” with vegan-friendly options. A little more than a month old, the event has become an event, attracting a wide variety of local Highland Park residents—young folks, old folks, hipsters, families and more than a few dog owners.
I made my way over last Tuesday and, after finagling a parking space, I found a good selection of quality food trucks, including Ahn-Joo, the popular Korean snack bar on wheels, Lomo Arigato, serving Peruvian-Japanese fusion, The Dim Sum Truck and the Filipino Tapa Boy. Also present was a really friendly vibe aided by the most popular conversation starter of the night: “where’d you get that?”
All I used to know about kimchi was that it was delicious and ridiculously addictive, as most pickled dishes tend to be. That was until Cham Bistro, the contemporary Korean restaurant in Pasadena, stepped in and showed me the way. Now, I know how to make kimchi and kimchi soup! I’ve come a long way.
It all started when I was invited to a how-to-make-kimchi workshop hosted by Cham Bistro. Along with a slew of other bloggers, I got step-by-step demonstration on how to make the fermented cabbage dish. I witnessed it all: the chopping, the salting, the soaking, the draining, the marinating, the folding and….
…the waiting. We had to wait a whole month to dig into the jars of kimchi that we were given at the end of the lesson. Though trying, the downtime gave me a weeks to make plans for my stash. I considered kimchi pancakes and soup, both of which were suggested with by an enthusiastic B-Side. In the end, the cold weather helped me make up my mind.