Chicken Hof & Soju (李家)
Time Out says
There are several things we wouldn’t mind having more of in Hong Kong: good Spanish food, artisanal beers, home-cured bacon and Korean fried chicken. Thanks to Lee Family Chicken, we can happily tick the last item off our list.
Modelled after the typical, no-frills Korean hof (a beer and soju bar similar to Japanese izakayas), Lee Family’s tinted glass door slides open into a dimly lit room that brings to mind seedy scenes from a Wong Kar-wai movie. Inside, the floor is sectioned off into spacious, semi-private booths, the largest of which houses a table wide enough to fit 16 boisterous businessmen and their beers. The décor is pared down to a handful of kitschy 1950s American plaques and a TV screen tuned into K-pop videos on rotation. The horrendous furnishing is a moot point though, mostly because the (predominantly Korean) clientele come here solely for two things: booze and fowl.
The menu’s entire first page is dedicated to fried chicken, all served by the whole bird with sides of pickled radish and thousand island-doused shredded cabbage. There are four different styles of chicken to choose from, the most popular of which comes with a thick breaded crust that’s generously glopped with sweet and sticky chilli sauce and sesame ($160). It’s messy, sloppy, eat-with-your-fingers fare spiked with a buzzing heat and a garlicky aftertaste. This is the big sell here but we’re actually more inclined towards the soy sauce chicken ($160) – a more profound bird that has its skin double-deep-fried to a crisp, paper-thin sheet. Steeped for hours, the marinade leaves traces of salty spice on the meat, which in turn stays moist and succulent from thigh to breast.
There are a few other choices on offer, mostly low-end, sharply flavoured items designed to be washed down with ample amounts of alcohol. To note, the spicy shin ramyun ($50) and dried squid ($90) may be painstakingly simple but each makes a perfect accompaniment to bottles of Cass or Hite beer (both $28). The fried fish cake soup with bean sprouts and sliced radish ($150) also does well to warm the stomach but the broth is a touch too peppery for our palates. Order these supplementary dishes if you want a more substantial meal but keep in mind that the chicken is the true star here. Dorothy So
84 Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2375 8080. Daily 5pm-4am. Dinner for two: around $400.