In recent years, Korean culture has taken the world by storm, and a crucial factor in its success is undoubtedly their renowned savory cuisine. Amsterdam – being the multicultural city that it is – has also seemingly followed this trend as it is the home to many Korean restaurants in the Netherlands. It was therefore my quest to search for the ultimate Korean fried chicken with the two contenders: Gangnam Chicken and Uncle Lee’s. These contestants will be battling it out for the prestigious title of ‘Amsterdam’s Chicken Champion.’
The first contender: Gangnam Chicken
I came to this small and neon-lit restaurant after my exams and was ready to indulge myself in the decadent world of Korean fried chicken. Despite its sketchy appearance, the 3-table restaurant had a chill and welcoming ambiance. The owner was super friendly as he gave us some pickled radish for free – a side dish that helps to cool down the fiery spices of the chicken while also refreshing the palate.
We ordered two sets of chicken wings, one with the soy garlic sauce and the other with Korean spicy sauce (they also offer this in the honey lemon flavor). I was skeptical at first: “Korean Fried Chicken in Amsterdam? This is too good to be true.” However, Gangnam Chicken completely blew me away. All of the wings were succulent and well-coated with the savory sauces. The chicken meat fully absorbed the unique spices and flavors, and it didn’t feel like they were drenched in oil thanks to the light and crispy batter. And, even though the soy garlic sauce complemented the crispy chicken nicely, it was slightly sweeter than anticipated. For non-spicy eaters out there, this is the one for you!
I was, however, taken aback by the spicy chicken wings for their peppery and smoky, yet savory sauce. It seeped into the crispy chicken skin and was almost too addictive; you could say that it was actually ‘finger-licking good’ like the other KFC. On top of the insanely delicious food, it was such an economical meal as we ended up only spending €6/person – a bang for the buck! We left Gangnam Chicken with our stomachs full and guilty pleasure satisfied.
Location: 4/5 (Located near Vondelpark and Museumplein; it is accessible by tram and super easy to find as well)
Price: 4.5/5 (Super economical for a sizable portion of chicken wings)
Taste: 4.5/5 (Although the chicken wings tasted awesome, I think there’s still room for improvement because the sauces can make the chicken skin slightly damped)
Expectations: 4.5/5 (Truly exceeded my expectations given that I had zero hope coming into this journey)
Worth-it: 4.8/5 (Yes! Have some wings and a few beers with your friends to destress – highly recommended!)
Second try: 4.5/5 (I’ll definitely get all my friends to try this one out)
The second contender: Uncle Lee’s Amsterdam
Since I was immensely impressed with Gangnam Chicken, Uncle Lee’s faced fierce competition. Because Uncle Lee’s only delivers to certain areas which did not include my address, I paid the restaurant a visit.
At first, I thought that I had come to the wrong place as the ‘restaurant’ presented itself as an industrial fried chicken ‘factory.’ I saw flour bags and chili sauce containers stacked on top of each other in the back. The cashier (who I suppose also was the cook) even dressed in a white factory attire; already, this place had successfully captured my attention.
I ordered the €19.95 combo which came with four bolts, four wings, a medium-sized boneless chicken box, pickled radish, rice, coleslaw and a can of Coke. There were five types of sauces (Sweet Chili, Super Soja, Fire Chicken, Honey Combo and Extreme Fire), so they did offer a wider variety than Gangnam Chicken. I decided to try the Super Soja, the Fire Chicken, the Honey Combo and the Extreme Fire. After waiting for a while, the much-anticipated chicken came out with an irresistible and intense fragrance (which became a slight concern for me because I planned to travel back by public transport). Its skin crisped up nicely but had already become mildly stale due to the never-changing Amsterdam wind. Nonetheless, I fell deeply in love with both the Fire Chicken and Extreme Fire sauces, where my taste buds buzzed and my brain pumped with adrenaline. Despite the sauces being somewhat sugary, the flavors played very well with the fattiness of the skin and tenderness of the meat. I was not a fan of the soy sauce as it was too salty for my taste; I don’t recommend the honey sauce either because, quite frankly, it didn’t have a defined taste. The coleslaw was also slightly disappointing because it didn’t feel refreshing, which was fortunately saved by the crunchy and freshly pickled radishes.
Location: 3/5 (Their pickup spot is in the middle of nowhere, so it was super hard to get there. However, they mainly deliver, so I can’t really blame them for that.)
Price: 4/5 (Money well-spent on the combo!)
Taste: 4/5 (Although the chicken tasted great, Uncle Lee’s can further perfect its game with adjusting the seasoning in their sauces)
Expectations: 4/5 (The photos on Google looked great, and the chicken was surprisingly delicious as well!)
Worth-it: 4/5 (The spicy sauces indeed won my heart, and my efforts of leaving my cozy room for some fried chicken were justified)
Second try: 4/5 (I’ll come back to try the Sweet Chili flavor and resample the other spicy sauces)
Author’s note: Please check ahead of time to see whether Uncle Lee’s delivers to your location.
Verdict: So the winner is Gangnam Chicken! I admit that Uncle Lee’s has more variety, but Gangnam Chicken feels more like the authentic Korean Fried Chicken experience. Nonetheless, I highly suggest you try out both of these places to see which one is your personal champion!
If you know of any other Korean Fried Chicken spots or want to share your opinion on either of these restaurants, visit our Instagram page at @the.magazine.amsterdammer.
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