641 10th Ave (45th St)
New York, NY 10036
I was invited to try Hell’s Chicken last week and accepted immediately because who would give up an opportunity for fried chicken? The restaurant also prides itself it making gluten-free fried chicken. I’m the last person to be drawn to gluten-free but I can imagine some of my readers’ ears may perk up at the sound of that. So off I went! I brought LAW along with me so we could try more foods. The restaurant is in – surprise, surprise – Hell’s Kitchen where there are very few options for good Asian food. Keep this one in mind next time you’re stuck there (because there’s no good reason to linger around there).
We started with a Korean classic: Japchae ($10 + $2 with beef, pork, or shrimp). Japchae is like the Chinese rice noodle and beef dish (干炒牛河) except its noodles are made with sweet potato glass noodles. The Hell’s Chicken version is on the sweeter side and has a strong kick from all those scallions. I’m no japchae connoisseur so can’t tell you how authentic it is, but it was good.
We also shared the Pa Jeon with seafood ($10 + $2 with seafood), also known as Haemul Pa Jeon. The pancake had a nice spread of seafood and scallions (hate it when it has too much of one or the other), and was paired with a sweet sauce. This place really does like it sweets. I prefer a crispier pancake (this one was less fried – probably healthier) but still enjoyed this small appetizer.
We then got two servings of their claim to fame: the fried chicken. The chicken is different from the bon-chon/mad-for-chicken style chicken (which I also love, but it’s nice to have a change) in that it has a little less batter and tastes less fried (also gluten-free – make sure you ask about the g-free sauces if you’re serious about the g-free). The sauces are also different. Pictured on top is the soy garlic, which I was told is made with tomato sauce. DELICIOUS. Slightly sweet and slightly tart. Sprinkled with cashews (I believe… can’t remember exactly).
This one is the soy ginger, which to my surprise actually had a very strong gingery flavor. Tasted like grated fresh ginger with soy. I found that the large drumsticks were more moist on the inside so definitely get the drumsticks or at least the mixed (like we did) if you try the place out.
All good fried chicken places have a good pickle. This is the pickled radish, the same one the other Korean fried chicken joints serve up. Always a classic. Always great. I need to learn to make this because I love it so much. Apparently it’s very easy – just need radish, white vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.
Finally, we ended with my favorite from the night. This Bibimbap ($13 + $2 for beef, chicken, or pork) is, no joke, the best bibimbap I’ve had in NYC. Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish you’ll find in every Korean restaurant. It’s simply white rice served with mixed vegetables, an egg, and some slices of meat on top in a sizzling hot stone pot. It comes with gochujang (hot pepper paste) that you mix in for flavor. Very simple yet I find so many Korean restaurants fail to make a great bibimbap for one key reason: lack of use of the stone pot. Often times the stone pot isn’t even that hot, and is just used as a vessel to serve the rice. The hot stone pot is KEY to great bibimbap. It is meant to cook everything together, to infuse all the flavors. Here, the meat is served maybe two third cooked, and the egg raw so when you mix everything together, the stone pot doesn’t overcook the meat and egg. The rice was also of higher quality, and because of the stone pot, it seared the bottom layer into a delicious crispy layer.
So, overall, Hell’s Chicken serves up some pretty good Korean food. Definitely a good neighborhood spot. And if you need that g-free, definitely don’t deprive yourself of delicious Korean fried chicken and come here. The bibimbap may also be worth making the trek for.