Review: Chicken Institute

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Korean fried chicken. It’s crunchy, it’s delicious and it’s rapidly become the most readily available fried chicken in Sydney. Gone are the days when ‘Southern fried chicken’ was found on every second menu, in the last year Sydney officially replaced Kentucky with Korean and the new KFC has taken over. The original classic Arisun’s has started to expand, and Chinatown now comes close to rivalling Strathfield with its growing population of KFC joints.

The head chef of Paramount Coffee Project has just opened a new restaurant which proudly boasts Korean fried chicken on the menu (so proud that it’s referred to as ‘damn good chicken’ on the menu. The restaurant’s name is Chicken Institute. After eating a wide range of Korean fried chicken, both wonderful and sub-par, I was keen to eat at a restaurant with a name that suggests “ok motherfuckers, you wanna learn a thing or two about chicken? Enrol in a course at the goddamn Institute of Chicken and get KNOWLEDGED”. I bought a new set of exercise books and set out to get my PHD.

While far from bad, a meal at Chicken Institute doesn’t leave you with the feeling that you’ve learnt all there is to know about fried chicken. Instead you actually feel like popping into the kitchen with a short list of improvements that could be made to the menu like the cocky self appointed fried chicken expert you were born to be.

The ‘damn good fried chicken’ comes in four different flavours – original, sticky, peri peri and the caramel glazed fried garlic chicken. While the flavours are good (almost damn good), $20 – $24 gets you a silver bucket with four boneless pieces of fried chicken thigh. No wings, drummies or breast. Why would an institute offer such a limited syllabus of chicken pieces? And deny their students the glory of eating meat off the bone? The bright neon pieces of pickled radish on the side get a few bonus marks though.

Elsewhere on the menu are dishes similarly let down by a few oversights. The bibim-bap is way too healthy, a bowl of pretty raw vegetables with bland red rice and pearl barley. You’ll use every bit of the that fried egg and kim chi to try and make the dish more flavourful. Kimchi poutine is considerably better (and considerably less healthy), its mix of fries, kimchi, sauce and cheese is the closest thing Sydney has to the spectacular ‘Ooey Gooey Fries’ at Chego in LA, however it would come even closer if a melted tasty cheese was used instead, the small scattering of grated hard cheese barely registering a cheesiness at all.

Most is forgiven when dessert offers you a cute goldfish shaped cake filled with ice cream, peanuts and condensed milk, complete with a glove in case you feel so inclined to pick the fish up and eat it with your hands. Just try not to take that glove to the kitchen and challenge the teachers at the Institute to a fried chicken duel.

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