There's only one thing I love more than fried chicken...Korean fried chicken. The problem is I have yet to taste any in NY that rival the best of the best - a KFC temple called Crisp in Chicago. If you're ever in the Windy City, put it on your to do list. Rich, bold flavors. The meatiest, most succulent wings. Lip-smacking magic in your mouth.
But that doesn't mean NY can't serve up a great alternative. Turns out it's now here in the East Village at the new Mono + Mono restaurant. Owner MJ Chung has not only given the former Jeollado space a splashy new makeover, but he's also injected some clever personal touches - like his private collection of 30,000 jazz LPs that adorn the walls and rotate through the impressive sound system.
Now back to the food. Obviously go for their "Famous Korean Fried Chicken." Double fried means the fat melts away leaving a crunchy, paper-thin skin. Two sauce choices - a satisfying soy garlic or hot spicy - give the juicy pieces a slick, sticky coating. My one let down was the pieces are small - small enough to single out. A 10-piece order ($16.95) includes two drumsticks and a mix of 8 petite drumettes and wing portions. The serving is accompanied by a refreshing side of traditional pickled daikon radish, and small corn salad. If you order the chicken, get the Mexican corn appetizer ($7.00), too. The hot grilled cob is smothered in just enough cotija cheese and paprika to make it sinfully delicious, and a great compliment to the chicken. The Mono + Mono salad ($8.95) is also a fresh and light prelude to the main event. Coated in a ginger dressing, succulent Asian pear, pickled beets, asparagus and smooth avocado give the spinach salad a satisfying zing.
The food was consistently delicious, service was excellent and the vibe is very East Village. What's not to love? Next time I'll grab a group or a hot date, and check out some of their sophisticated special rolls (our server said the Angry Salmon roll is to die for).
116 E 4th St. (between 1st + 2nd Aves.). Sun - Wed, 4pm - midnight and Thurs - Sat, 4pm - 2am.