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Tto Tto Wa Bistro and the Arrival of Korean Fried Chicken

While researching Tto Tto Wa Bistro, the subject of this week's review, I read everything I could on an Asian delicacy that's become a personal obsession: Korean fried chicken.

The earliest reference I could find to the stuff served in the States was in John T. Edge's book Fried Chicken, published in 2004. In the chapter Seoul Food, Edge writes about Sam Lee's Korean Fried Chicken in Seattle, which wasn't the Korean fried chicken you'll find at Tto Tto Wa, but instead a Korean frying chicken in the American style.

Edge later described a Korean coffee shop in Atlanta named Harue, where he had chicken "hacked into irregular pieces, dusted in corn starch, and fried to a crunch." He said he wished Sam Lee could be right there with him, to taste the future of American fried chicken. The statement turned out to be a prophecy.

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In 2007 Julia Moskin wrote in the New York Times of the then recent proliferation of Korean fried chicken joints around New York. Those restaurants continued to spread, and now KFC references can be found all over the country and here in Dallas, too.

Kristy Yang wrote about Plus One Chicken for City of Ate last year, and I also found the stuff inside H-Mart at Toreore. My favorite, though, was Tto Tto Wa, if only for the hours they keep (open till 2 a.m.), the interesting space (it's a cool place to drink), and the owner, Angel Kim, whose story I tell in my review.

Oh, and the chicken? It's pretty great, too.

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