Tell your Chinese friends you know a good place for chimek (chi means chicken and mek means beer in Korean) and they’ll very likely beg you for the address. Though available at any street corner in Seoul, this comfort food combo didn’t become popular in China until the appearance of a Korean TV show called My Love from a Star.
On streaming video website iQiyi alone, the romantic comedy has garnered 2.5 billion views since debuting in December. The show’s most famous line is: “It’s snowing outside. We should have fried chicken and beer.” (Don’t ask us why.) Thanks to the series, locals have flocked to Korean restaurants in Beijing serving chimek. One of these is Chicken Suutak’s.
Three months ago, when we visited the original location inside a residential building in Wangjing, the wait lasted two hours. There were 30 parties before us outside the tiny neighborhood eatery. However, our patience was rewarded with crispy, delicious, and extremely cheap chicken. Though we couldn’t ask for more from the food, the crowded restaurant wasn’t ideal for families with young children.
Luckily, Chicken Suutak’s has expanded with a second location at Kirin Place, a new mall next to Wangjing SOHO. The restaurant is spacious, bright, clean, and has an outdoor dining space.
Korean fried chicken is super crunchy due to its thick breading, with complex flavors from the lengthy marination process. It’s also versatile, with many types of coating – original, chili, soy sauce, hot sauce, and gochujang (chili pepper paste). If you want to avoid getting sauce all over your face, there’s also a boneless chicken option.
If you’re unsure, opt for the original flavor and experiment with the various condiments, including salsa, gochujang, Thai chutney, and ketchup. That being said, it would be a shame to miss out on the colorful and finger-licking coatings.
Like our model, many kids will love the Original Fried Chicken
(RMB 45 for half, RMB 80 for a whole chicken). Our favorite was the not-too-spicy Soy Sauce Chicken Wings (RMB 45 for eight). Besides chimek, Chicken Suutak’s also has standards like bibimbap and Korean hot pot, as well as pasta and burgers for pickier eaters.
Go with friends to sample multiple flavors and find your favorite. To complete the experience, grownups can order from the extensive beer list or try makgeolli (RMB 40), a stronger carbonated version of Yunnan rice wine. There are also fresh juices and smoothies for the kids.
Chicken Suutak’s has four highchairs and a non-smoking area. The menu is in Chinese, English, and Korean. There’s a sink in the restaurant, so no need to walk all the way to the mall bathrooms (which have western toilets) to wash your hands. Delivery is also available.
Daily 10am-2am. B106, Building 11, Wangjing Kirin Place (next to Wangjing Soho), Fu’an Xilu, Chaoyang District (5738 9301)