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Bird Is the Word

Run, don’t walk up Milwaukee Avenue to the local outpost of Choong Man, a popular Korean chain.

Photo: Jeff Marini

Haven’t had your fill of greasy summer pleasure yet? Then go to Choong Man Chicken, located on an unscenic stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Glenview. There you will sit under a sprawling tent at a gingham-topped picnic table. You will drink pitchers of thin lager and eat platters of fried chicken and thank the stars for all of it.

This franchise of a Korean chain serves a kind of chicken that has grown so popular that fans refer to it simply as KFC (as in, Korean fried chicken). The birds are cut into three-bite pieces and fried twice for crunch, then sometimes doused with sauce. Pickled radish cubes always come alongside. Great KFC has a dry, shattering shell that gives way to an actively steamy interior, an appealing combination of textures.

This is not great KFC. It has a thick, stubborn crust. Still, it scratches the itch. Plus, there are plenty of tasty sauces and toppings. I’d go for the red hot pepper one, which slaps hard, or the snow onion, which is creamy-sweet. Choong Man’s version of a big-in-Korea specialty — tikkudak, or smoked fried chicken — smells and tastes like the smoker may have been a bottle. But who cares? You’ve got cold beer, hot chicken, and at least a few weeks of summer weather left.

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