Our 5 Favorite Spots to Get Chicken Skewers
Korean dak kkochi [닭꼬치], or chicken skewers, are one of the foods that almost definitely took initial inspiration from a Japanese counterpart – the marinated, basted pieces of chicken thigh alternated with segments of scallion on a grilled skewer are almost identical to Japanese yakitori. While many dak kkochi spots in Seoul embrace this Japanese origin, others modify the street food for Korean palettes by adding spicier, gochujang based sauces.
Dak kkochi is a perfect grab-and-go street food or late night drunk snack. It may seem like not a lot goes into skewering and grilling chicken, but if you’ve had a great dak kkochi, or for that matter a shitty one, you know that a lot of finesse is involved. Premium meat, deeply flavorful marinade and spicy sauces, and a necessary mastery of the grill are all requirements that skewer shops, windows, and stands needed to have to make it on this list. Look out for these five spots next time you’re craving a dak kkochi.
1. Hosu Jib – Seoul Station
호수집 – 서울역
Hosu Jib is one of the more famous places to get dak kkochi in Seoul, but it deserves every bit of hype. The small, nondescript restaurant is tucked away in alley and looks like literally any other ahjusshi spot. Their 2 main specialties are dak doritang [닥도리탕], a fresh spicy chicken soup loaded with sesame leaves and mushrooms, and skewers. There’s not really much else on their small menu. If you’re able to snag one of their few tables, get a pot of soup (between 13,000 and 25,000 based on size) and a bunch of skewers (1500 each). The dak kkochi are chicken only – no scallions, no vegetables. The hefty chunks of thigh meat are marinated and basted in a spicy, lightly garlicky sauce, and then grilled till errant bits get a black char. Juicy, tender, really tasty; it’s not really surprising how this place got famous.
2. Bbil Kkochi Ne – Hongdae
삘꼬치네 – 홍대
In Hongdae, there are two dak kkochi windows that battle it out. One is Chungchoon [청충], and one is Bbil. Between the two, I prefer Bbil, just because Chungchoon is always doing fancy shit with theirs and I generally prefer to keep it simple with these. Bbil has a number of sauce options, and their chicken skewers, with a scallion here and there, are tender and smoky. But I want to say this: I support these stands, but if you’ve ever been to Hongdae at night, you know there’s no shortage of street food stands catering to the drunk and hungry masses. On the main street, between clubs, there are three of four dak kkochi stands that set up, manned by tired ahjusshis, that sell absolutely banging dak kkochi for the cheap. Because they only set up at night and move around, I have no idea what they’re called and can’t find them online. I’m gonna do some investigating and try to update this as soon as possible, but basically, if you’re in Hongdae and these guys aren’t out, Bbil is a great plan B.
3. Bak Hyo Shin Ddak Kkochi – Various Locations
Bak Ho Shin sets up stands basically anywhere that food stalls congregate – Myeongdong, Wolmido, and yes, Hongdae. Their chicken skewers are great on their own, cheap and loaded with chicken and a generous amount of crispy grilled scallions, but what sets their stands apart is the sauce. Sauces, rather, because stands are equipped with several jars of different sauces that you can baste your own skewer with. These range from a sweet and smoky teriyaki, to more standard peppery options, all the way up to a mouth-numbingly hot sauce (my personal favorite). Once you’re basted up, help yourself to bottles of mayo or honey mustard for an extra sauce drizzle. Bak Hyo Shin is the move for skewers if you want to bring your own taste, or even experiment with flavors.
4. Galo Halo – KyungridanGil
갈로할로 – 경리단길
Kyungridan has been kind of an upscale, international area for a minute, and Galo Halo is admittedly no different. At a minimum price of 3,500, their skewers are pricier than the average, and not particularly better. Why are they on this list? They’ve been rocking a special dak kkochi for a while that, while unique, is definitely kind of traditional-innovative: sesame leaf dak kkochi [갯잎닭꼬치]. A grilled skewer is basted in a sweet, sticky sauce and then topped with shredded gennip, or sesame leaves. Gennip has a really unique, herbaceous flavor, but whether you can get behind it or not there’s not denying its place as a symbol of traditional Korean cooking. I actually really like how the gennip freshens up the flavor of the chicken by adding a complex, sharp flavor to cut through the umami. Maybe a novelty, but Galo Halo’s special skewer is worth trying regardless.
5. Yoomyunghan Dak Kkochi – Shindaebang
유명한 닭꼬치 – 신대방
Yoomyunghan’s name – which means famous – may precede it, but the old school red tent is undoubtedly popular. If you snag a seat in the pojangmacha [포장마차], grab some soju, odeng tang [오뎅탕], chicken feet [닭발], and of course, dak kkochi. Skewers are done in either spicy sauce [양념] or straight up salt seasoning [소금], both very traditional preparations. There’s nothing other than chicken on these kkochi, and when they come to your table the skewer is already out. The plastic bag-lined plate that cradles these grilled chicken morcels (this place is so legit) also holds ketchup, mustard, and salt for dipping, if you’re into that. The chicken really doesn’t need any condiment – it’s grilled perfectly, juicy and lightly charred. The perfect accompaniment to a few bottles of soju in a tent.
Next time you need some meat on a stick, keep these spots in your deck. If you know of a bomb dak kkochi spot we missed, or have some thoughts about the places we listed here, let us know. For another list like this, check out last week’s installment, where we looked at tteok jibs.
Photo credits: @realdakcochi, @jy_diet_diary, @b_it_na, @eun.t, @eunjik_kim, @jjangeh06