Kyochon's fried chicken. Photo by Ira Pedrasa for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Kyochon, the well-loved South Korean fried chicken restaurant featured in several Korean dramas, is finally here in the Philippines.
Even if rival Bonchon had a significant headstart in the country, the company that brought Bread Talk and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to the Philippines is not afraid to foray into a new market that already loves all things Korean.
Even the Koreans who have been living in the Philippines for years now are giddy about Kyochon's opening.
Marketing manager Chanky Tiangco would not tag the fried chicken restaurants here as competition, however. “Even if we came in a bit later, we’re still different from the rest,” she confidently said.
For one, Kyochon boasts of a casual-dining ambience instead of the fast food-type atmosphere of some of its competitors. Its interiors are even styled the way it was originally done in the over 1,000 stores in South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and the United States.
“It’s a sit-down (restaurant)… Still the price is competitive,” Tiangco said.
Of course, the fried chicken is the centerpiece – all succulent right down to the bone. As its wall design states, Kyochon has three promises: "First, we won’t make fast food. Second, we only use natural ingredients. Third, we only make healthy chicken with honesty.”
“Even the way they drop the chicken for frying is different,” Tiangco said, noting that the franchise owners had to bring the Korean chefs to the Philippines to teach their kitchen personnel at SM Megamall, where Kyochon opened its first branch.
Customers at the SM Megamall branch. Photo by Ira Pedrasa for ABS-CBNnews.com
For P149, a customer would already get a five-piece drumstick and wing combo. But customers would scream for more.
The Kyochon series offers the original (fusion of garlic and soy sauce), red series (spicy), and the honey series (sweet honey).
A personal favorite, however, is the Soonsal series. It is a boneless and skinless breast and thigh meat covered with a special batter that has rice crisps on it. Biting into the strip opens the senses to the most mouthwatering chicken ever.
Kyochon’s first branch at SM Megamall is only the start as Tiangco said around five more branches will open in 2014.
The prospects are exciting, Tiangco teased, especially since the company is preparing to bring Korean superstar Lee Min Ho – Kyochon’s image model -- to the Philippines next year.
Posters of Lee Min Ho decorate the restaurant. Photo by Ira Pedrasa for ABS-CBNnews.com
From the small restaurant in South Korea in 1991, Kyochon (Kyo means start, and cho means town) intends to rule the fried chicken market here and abroad.