Chimaek is Your New Favorite Ktown Comfort Food

It’s time to get serious about fried chicken and beer

Sure, everyone loves fried chicken, and yes, lots of people love beer. But no one loves the combination of chicken and beer quite like Koreans.

Koreans love their chicken and beer so much, they made a word for it: chimaek (pronounced “chi-meck”). A portmanteau of “chicken” and “maekju,” (Korean for beer), chimaek is more than just a word. It’s a way of life. Chimaek is what you have when you get off work. Chimaek is a lovely picnic at the park. Chimaek is that late night craving. Chimaek is comfort.

Take a jaunt through Koreatown and you’ll see just how much Koreans love their chimaek. Korean fried chicken restaurants have popped up all over Ktown the past few years. It’s as easy to find a fried chicken spot as it is a KBBQ restaurant. But even if you aren’t in a chicken-specific restaurant, you can find fried chicken on almost every menu—along with beer.

Photo courtesy Steffi Victorioso

For a proper chimaek experience all you need is some good ol’ traditional fried chicken, some spicy wings if you’re feeling frisky, ice-cold beer, a few buddies, and a super chill vibe.

The most trusted place to have legit chimaek is OB Bear. This Korean pub has been around for almost 30 years, long before the wave of fried chicken hit Ktown. Although they have an extensive menu with other Korean pub-style dishes, they specialize in chimaek. Step inside and take a look around. You might see some fish or noodles here and there, but everyone has at least chicken and beer on their table. This is the home of Ktown chimaek.

Photo courtesy Steffi Victorioso
Photo courtesy Steffi Victorioso

Once you’re seated, first things first: Order a pitcher of beer and start drinking. As for the chicken, you’ve got some choices, but your best bet is to order their fried chicken and the spicy wings. These pair perfectly with beer, so keep it flowing.

Their classic fried chicken is a whole chicken that’s fried naked, without batter. The skin is delightfully crispy and the inside is tender. It comes with dipping salt, which isn’t totally necessary but a nice touch if you’re the type that prefers a good salt lick.

Photo courtesy Steffi Victorioso
Photo courtesy Steffi Victorioso

The spicy fried chicken wings have a nice glaze all over the extra-crispy crunchy outside. These meaty wings strike the perfect balance of heat and tang. The heat doesn’t overpower the flavor like other varieties of fire-breathing, snot-inducing wings around town.

A small cup of jalapeños and a pile of lettuce with thousand island dressing come with every order of chicken. Spicy wings not spicy enough? Have a jalapeño. Need to soothe your over-stimulated tastebuds? Have some lettuce and dressing.

Be warned: It starts getting busy around 8 p.m., so you might have to wait a little while for a table. Keep an eye on the bar in case a couple seats open up. Or better yet, in true chimaek fashion, go right after work. You’ll get there before peak hours, and you’ll be nice and loosened up for post-chimaek karaoke.