It seems like Korean fried chicken is one of the major food trends of 2021. In every neighbourhood there is a Korean restaurant or fast food joint serving up “KFC”. But with so many different banners and locations popping up all over the lower mainland, how do you choose which to visit?
Let me help you by recommending one of my favourites: NeNe Chicken. NeNe is one of Korea’s most popular fried chicken brands, who have expanded globally. Today we were visiting their second location on Davie Street (the first is located on Kingsway).
Out of the sea of Korean chicken places, NeNe chicken is the one known of their yellow awning, their golden chicken plaque that marks the entrance, and the staff uniform that resemble 1920’s gangsters with their bowler hats and tan collared shirts with black pipping. It is a unique look that doesn’t necessarily speak to the brand, but it does keep them in my memory.
The setting is simple with marble top tables. Causal dining for food that comes out fast. I suggest ordering for take out, even if dining in, so that you can easily take leftovers to go in their well, resigned pizza box, but for fried chicken.
We had a whole chicken served in a box, choosing bone in, instead of boneless. It is typically your choice of two flavours, but we opted for the add-on of a third for a minimal fee. A move I recommend, to be able to try 3 out of their 6 different types of fried chicken.
The Snowing cheese chicken was my favourite, but the best part is alternating between flavours to keep things fresh taste to taste. With this, their fried chicken is evenly coated with a thick layer of cheese powder. Fresh to the table it ate powdery, leaving a pleasant film across your lips. Similar to powdered doughnuts or when you eat enough Cheetos puffs, an enjoyable film that you lick off in satisfaction, once your meal has concluded. Reheated (because we naturally had leftovers), the cheese powder seemed to melt and you are left with a crispier regular fried chicken piece.
The Swicy chicken is their take on the familiar slightly spicy and little sweet, sticky fried chicken; by way of sweet chilli sauce. It was saucy and juicy, amazing with the beer that we had below.
Worth noting is that alcoholic beverages are only available at the Davie location, so we had to take advantage because beer and fried chicken are definitely bedmates.
Our third choice was less dynamic. The Soy garlic chicken was the same bone-in fried chicken as above, but with their soy garlic sauce. The flavour didn’t go either way, but ate like what would be regular fried chicken. Tasty as is, and helpful as a breath in between the more flavourful bites of the other two above.
Each box set comes with a container of pickled radish, most helpful in cooling the palate and serving as a tangy break in such a heavy and saucy meal. You also get finger gloves that go over your index and thumb, so that your fingers stay clean as you eat with your hands. And packets of wet wipes to clean up after. How considerate.
But if you are looking for a lighter meal, and something that is easier to eat on the go, NeNe also has a collection of chicken burgers, featuring the same fried chicken above, but boneless and served flatten as a patty. We tried the Hawaiian-Teri burger with its crispy chicken burger, special bbq sauce, tomato, onion, pickle, lettuce, and pineapple. The burger was good, but compared to the chicken, not as memorable. I would have liked a more punchy sauce to bring some heat to the sweet pineapple.
We made our burger a combo with a drink and upgraded their regular fries, to their Shake Shake fries. It is essentially their regular fries, served in a paper bag, with the same powder cheese as the snowing chicken, on the side. You self regulate how much cheese flavour you want, pouring it into the bag and shaking. The result, cheesy coated fries.
I have yet to be disappointed by NeNe. Every visit I have been able to taste the quality in their chicken. They take the proper care to butcher each piece, and take the proper time to fry it to order. They don’t just chopped it up any which way so that it cooks faster. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.
1231 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1N4