Just a few years ago, Korean fried chicken was a rarity in Adelaide. Then, seemingly overnight, it was everywhere: Plus 82 Pocha, Kpub, Bam, Gunbae, Busan Baby, Ban Ban (and offshoot Little Ban Ban) are just some of the places where you can now get your fix.
Now, Korean fried chicken has landed on a Norwood side street, just around the corner from Argo. Kokko is a playground-inspired space (courtesy of Design People and Unique Space) featuring gleaming white tiles, geometric shapes and bright primary colours.
The restaurant was dreamed up by couple Julie Kim and Ji Ku, who are both from Seoul but met in Adelaide while studying. After moving back to Korea for several years, they returned to Australia so their son, Hu, could attend high school in Adelaide.
“My son really loves fried chicken, so that’s why I started to cook it,” Kim tells Broadsheet.
“We could buy pre-made products for frying, but she wants to make everything from scratch,” Ku adds. “That’s why she makes everything by hand.”
At Kokko, Kim coats and fries around 100 pieces of chicken a day. The capped number is the result of a near-obsessive focus on quality control; Kim and Ku speak proudly of how often they filter and test their cooking oil. They also make all their own sauces. “I just wanted to make it as healthy as possible,” says Kim. “Fried chicken is not a healthy food. But I wanted to make it as healthy as I can.”
The menu is refreshingly simple: a regular order comes with five pieces of fried chicken, while the “hungry size” comes with seven. You’ll get a combination of boned and boneless pieces, as well as chips and pickles on the side.
“In Korea, we usually eat the whole chicken – like, fry the [entire] chicken,” says Kim. “But Australians like one serve for one person. So that’s why I decided on two boned pieces and three boneless ones per serve.”
Twelve ingredients go into the flour, but Kim is keeping hush on what they are. She road-tested the chicken on friends before settling on the final recipe.
“They made some comments about crispiness and taste, and from there, I twisted it a bit,” she says. “They liked herb flavours. I put lots of herbs in it.”
You can order the chicken plain or add on one of the sauces: there’s citrus mayonnaise, cheese flakes, sweet soy, hot soy and the Kokko signature sauce (a sweet-and-spicy garlic concoction).
A fried chicken burger, cauliflower fries and pickled vegetables round out the menu. The venue is licensed, with a small selection of Korean and local beers on offer.
Tue to Sat 11.30am¬–9pm