Chicken champ: the best wings in Seattle
The perfect sweet-sour ratio, and a delicious crunch.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Because of Chan, I eat wings with a discerning (friends would say snobbish) attitude, snickering at those that are too gluey or too dry.
The wings at Chan, the Korean fusion restaurant in Pike Place Market, will do that to a diner. They’re the barometer to which all happy-hour wings should be judged.
They have a satisfying, crispy-skin crunch, with an ideal ratio between sweet and spicy, skin and meat.
They’re chef Heong Soon Park’s interpretation of Korean chicken wings. His sticky wings have that spicy-sweet flavor profile of Korean cuisine but tweaked with a vinegar twinge.
Park’s East-meets-West wings took three months of tinkering right up until his restaurant debuted in spring of 2013. Like all Korean fried chicken, these are double-fried to keep the skin crunchy even if they sit idling on the plate while you chat away.
Marinated in buttermilk, his wings are dredged in cornstarch, flour, garlic powder, ginger powder, salt and peppers. They’re then coated in a fermented chili paste for that addicting spicy-sweet flavor that lingers on the palate, just waiting to be washed down with a frosty beer.
Take a bite. Douse that lingering heat with that side of pickled daikon. Follow with a gulp of Hite lager. Repeat. That’s what patrons do when Chan hosts happy hour around the bar five days a week.
Chan is a windowless space that feels subterranean, like one of those food dens in Seoul, where everything is crammed and every space used and no one minds because the outcome is still wonderful.
Before us was the chaotic choreography of three cooks working over six electric hot tops in a tiny, open kitchen. “This place is so small, you’ve got to back outside to change your mind,” my companion said, as we waited among the throng for two seats.
The wings were worth the wait, the perfect bar food.
Chan, 86 Pine St. (between First Avenue and Stewart Street in the courtyard at the Inn at the Market), offers happy hour 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday with five wings for $6 as well as other snacks ($3-$6), including bulgogi sliders and ahi tuna tartare; $4 beer and $6 wine and cocktails. Closed on Sunday and Monday (206-443-5443 or chanseattle.com).