Which came first, the chicken or the Krug? That’s the question after a delectable meal at Coqodaq, which recently debuted in New York City with the inspired—and, in retrospect, head-slappingly obvious—conceit of pairing fried chicken with Champagne.
But it’s not just any chicken, or any Champagne. Coqodaq is the latest concept from Simon Kim, the man behind Michelin-starred Korean steak house Cote, located a short hop away across Fifth Avenue. “For me, a new concept always starts with the food,” Kim says, adding that, “when looking for the best fried chicken in New York City, there was no undisputed champion.” Well, there is now. Head chef (and Jean-Georges alum) S.K. describes a monthslong search for the world’s best birds—pasture-raised in Pennsylvania Amish and Mennonite country and fed an all-vegetarian diet that includes kitchen scraps from Michelin-starred restaurants—and an equally grueling R&D process with the aim of creating not just the most delicious version of a globally popular dish, but a lighter and healthier one to boot.
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“Korean fried chicken is known for its thin crust, and we really wanted to focus on that,” he says—but also, “how do we make it different?” The end result is brined, dried, dredged in rice flour, and triple-fried using three different techniques in oil made from fermented Brazilian sugar cane. The rice flour not only absorbs less oil than wheat, it helps keep the coating remarkably thin and crunchy—and gluten-free, too. A bucket of chicken includes both standard and glazed versions and comes with consommé, a selection of Korean banchan, and a quartet of sauces, from Jun Verde to gochujang BBQ.
And then there’s the bubbly. Coqodaq—a portmanteau of the Korean and French words for “chicken”—boasts the largest Champagne list in the country, with over 400 bottles (of a 600-plus-bottle menu), overseen by sommelier Victoria James. But don’t think it’s a gimmick, or only for bragging rights: “It’s such a natural pairing,” James says. “You have the bubbles, which add a layer of texture and structure. Whenever you have a bite of fried chicken, the Champagne helps clean your palate—it latches on to those oils and makes each bite more bracing.” Plus, she says, “the expended yeast cells in Champagne, specifically, help aid in digestion.”
With a menu that also includes caviar service, tartare, and numerous seafood options, you’re going to need it. Our recommendation? Pop a bottle of something special (there’s no shortage; one night within the first week of opening, James says, “we sold a 1990 Dom Pérignon Oenotheque, 1990 Dom Pérignon Rosé, Philipponnat Clos de Goisses ’89, and Krug Clos du Mesnil ’98 within the course of five minutes”) and enjoy perhaps the greatest bar snack in New York City or anywhere else: the 24-Karat Golden Nugget, the crispy, juicy, ne plus ultra version of the McDonald’s staple, topped with crème fraîche, chives, and golden Daurenki caviar.
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