One Way to Seoul Street

. April 1, 2014.

It’ll be over an hour,” the clerk told us solemnly, “for any fried chicken.”

“But, but,” I stumbled. “We came here for the fried chicken!”
“I’m sorry. We only have so much room in the fryer and there are a lot of orders ahead of you.”

I looked at my husband and children, ages 10 and 7. We had come to Seoul Street, a counter-service Korean restaurant near Michigan’s North Campus, specifically to try their Korean fried chicken. It was highly recommended, made to order from fresh young chickens sans antibiotics or growth hormones with house made sauces.

Waiting an hour was not amenable, though. The kids (and parents) were hungry now, plus Seoul Street had a fast-food ambiance. Its small interior was dotted with bar stools and tables that you bus.

We moved on to Plan B: order something besides fried chicken. The menu offered Korean dishes like Bibimbop, KimBop rolls, fried rice, Budae Jigae (“Army Base” stew), fusion dishes such as Korean tacos, and sides like Mandoo (dumplings).

My husband selected BiBimBop, a mixed rice bowl with chicken, spinach, sprouts, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, pickled radish and a sunny-side up egg ($8.95). I decided on a half order of soy garlic fried rice with Bulgogi, Korean grilled marinated beef ($6.25). We would share an order of Kimchee fries topped with caramelized kimchee (fermented, seasoned cabbage), cheese, green onions, sour cream and spicy mayo ($6.25)

Ordering Korean for kids

Ordering for the kids was more challenging. My oldest, a picky eater, refused all our suggestions: Korean hot dog, tacos, or fried rice. I succumbed to his pleading to eat French fries for dinner. Pick your battles, they say! My youngest settled on the Bul-Dog, a hot dog topped with Bulgogi, kimchee, pickled radish and spicy mayo ($3.75). The staff agreed to serve the toppings on the side.

After 15 minutes, our food was ready. The BiBimBop was colorful, bright vegetables contrasting the white rice. The just-right portion tasted fresh, but could have been hotter per my husband. The soy garlic fried rice boasted sweet flavor and a nice chewy texture. The kimchee fries were interesting and yummy simultaneously, the tartness of the kimchee mellowed by cheddar and creamy mayo.

My youngest ate her hot dog and most of the toppings, trying the kimchee and Bulgogi, which she liked. My oldest had no complaints about his fries. “It would be cool if they had Korean ice cream,” he asked. Alas, his dream of eating fries and ice cream for dinner was denied. No desserts are offered at Seoul Street.

Not satisfied until there is chicken

Still, I was left unsatisfied without having tasted their Korean fried chicken, which Seoul Street declares “The best in Ann Arbor.” The next day I called in an order for fried drumsticks and boneless strips, 30 minutes ahead of when I would pick it up. For glazes, I chose half soy garlic and half hot and spicy.

I picked up the chicken and drove it to my husband’s work where his coworkers and I indulged. A delectable crackle erupted as I bit into the crust, and the combination of fat and sweet soy garlic flavors melted on my taste buds. The hot and spicy sauce was delightfully tangy, but not searing. The fried chicken was delicious.

“Huh,” a coworker uttered.
“Huh good? Or huh bad?” I asked.
“Huh good! Where is this place? I have to get more chicken.”
“Just call ahead,” I suggested, smiling. “Just call ahead.”

[The Short Course]
Kid-friendly: More yes than no
To avoid wait: Definitely call ahead 30-60 minutes to order fried chicken for dine in or take out.
Noise level: Moderate
Bathroom amenities:  Shared with another restaurant; changing table in women’s
High chairs? No
Got milk?  The closest thing to milk is Milkis, a Korean milk and yogurt-flavored soda. Assorted pop and iced tea are available, too.
Kids’ menu? No.
Anything healthy for kids? Choose from various vegetable-laden dishes and avoid fried ones.
Food allergy concerns? The restaurant posts information regarding nuts, wheat and dairy at the counter and on its website. Also, ask restaurant staff.

1771 Plymouth Rd., Suite 101
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Phone: (734) 719-0085
Hours: Mon-Thu: 11am-10:30pm;
Fri: 11am-11pm; Saturday: 11:30am-11pm; Sunday: 11:30am-10:30pm

Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer from Saline.