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May 17
Reviews (Eats)
BBQ Chicken Café: Seoul Chicken

A rather intriguing bird named BBQ Chicken Café recently landed in the heart of Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoglu’s busy pedestrian-only boulevard. A large, two-story restaurant with a big, bottle shaped character that stands outside and accosts passersby, BBQ belongs to a rapidly expanding Korean fried chicken chain whose claim to fame is frying its chicken in olive oil (which explains the character out front).

BBQ’s arrival was greeted with a touch of derision by some Istanbulites who link fried chicken to the American – rather than the Korean – south. But those who scoff at the notion of Korean fried chicken make us think of those shortsighted Americans who fifty years ago laughed at the idea of Japanese-made cars. Who’s laughing now? If you follow the latest fried chicken trends (as, of course, we at Istanbul Eats do religiously), you know that when it comes to deep fried bird, Korea is currently where it’s at. In fact, BBQ (short for “Best of the Best Quality”) is only one of several Korean chains that, in recent years, have been taking the fried chicken world by storm. BBQ, for example, has more than 3,500 restaurants in some 37 countries. Watch out, Colonel Sanders!

BBQ is no KFC, though. Rather than a fast food joint, it’s more akin to a fried chicken lounge, with stylishly upholstered chairs and the lobotomizing sounds of late-period Sting playing over the sound system. The chicken, instead of sitting under heat lamps, is cooked to order.

The dauntingly expansive menu features poultry in various guises, but we went for the “Original Luxury” fried chicken. The fowl, cooked to order, arrived steaming hot with a small serving of coleslaw and uninspiring wedge-cut French fries on the side. (Sadly, the meals at the Istanbul BBQ don’t seem to include pickled daikon radish as an appetizer, something that is part of the menu at the chain’s franchises in other parts of the world.)

BBQ claims that frying the chicken in olive oil results in a final product that’s crispier and lighter, which certainly was the case – the chicken’s nicely textured and golden fried coating was wonderfully crispy and not at all greasy (although still far from health food). But, despite the menu’s promise that the chicken had been marinated in a “secret” sauce, something was missing in the flavor department, as if in its rush to empire, BBQ had banished any trace of the chicken’s Korean origins. What we had on our plate were a few pieces of expertly fried chicken (in olive oil, no less), but nothing told our taste buds about the food’s provenance.

We had high hopes for the place and will probably return to try something else on the massive menu. But, based on an initial visit, our take is that BBQ fries, but it doesn’t soar.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi No: 132, Beyoglu
Telephone: (212) 243-1313

(photo by Yigal Schleifer)

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4 Responses to “ BBQ Chicken Café: Seoul Chicken ”
  1. It is nice to read views and expressions about BBQ, Chicken by the writer. However, in realistic terms the chicken served as final product is in fact delicious as well as mouth watering. The health and taste is being balanced “wonderfully” by the expert food engineers working at chicken University in Korea. I am sure that the writer would feel inspired and equally satisfied upon his second visit to taste few other delicacies of his choice because the “expertise and know how” is unique in more than many ways.

    I personally love the products because of the taste and the quantity served along with choice of special sauces served.

    My very best wishes to dear writer and hope he will keep on relishing the taste and health at BBQ,Chicken.

    Cheers !!


  2. Thanks for the comment, Rakesh. The chicken was very good, but our concern was that it was over engineered by those expert food engineers working at Chicken University in Korea. But, like you said, a second visit may be in order. Let’s see what the engineers cook up the next time.

  3. Jason Hong

    May 24, 2010

    Oh…you have to try their BBQ wings and if you like garlie the Teri gold wings are good (i’m a fan from southern california). Can’t believe it made it to Istanbul!

  4. Hey folks the BBQ,Chicken really lived up to its sayings of being extraordinary as the chicken was quite delicious and prepared fresh than some of the other restaurants. I ate this brand for the first time but must admit in all honesty that the “Golden strips” eaten by me were of excellent taste and impeccably delicious. My companion had ordered some very special wings called Teri-Q Gold wings, they were of unique type and had not tasted earlier in Istanbul. The taste was crunchy and tangy,while inside it was soft like cheese. I was more than happy to visit the place as the service was good and the staff were very attentive and respectful. However, my favorite will be Golden strips as it had some special flavor with crunch outside and soft meat inside without bones. I am sure BBQ,Chicken will be one of my regular joint at the cost of some other chicken fast foods. I was pleased to note that they opened three more branches in Gokturk,Atasehir & Kozyatag. Happy eating to other visitors and hope the BBQ;chicken would keep their name and quality same or above !!

    With best wishes.

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