Mexican Chicken Hof
A1-341 North Road
H.O.F. Those three letters mean nothing on their own. Unless you happen to be in South Korea and your eyes are swimming around looking at an unfamiliar language and fonts. Especially if you are in a busy commercial zone full of restaurants, bars and other entertainment establishments in busy areas such as Kangnam in Seoul.
Derived from the German word hoffbrau meaning ‘royal or court brew’ which originates back in the days when beer was only available to the elite, its now often associated with German taverns. The Koreans have adopted part of the terminology as their own, and in the modern day, a hof could be described as a Korean pub or drinking spot. Incidentally, one of the very first hof’s I visited in Seoul over a decade ago was very much patterned after a German brew house, complete with huge beer steins, and delicious sausages on the menu.
Mexican Chicken Hof, don’t let the name fool you, its a Korean establishment. For those wondering about that Latin American naming, I’m told by a visiting Korean acquaintance living in Vancouver for the year, that its a chain in Korea, not the most famous one though, that specializes in deep fried chicken. This joint does have the same kind of ambiance associated with many hof’s: dark, partitioned-off seating arrangements for the most part, loud music, and a healthy choice of alcohol (Korean soju included!).
I’d seen a similar looking Korean chicken serving place in a strip mall on the other side of Lougheed Highway, in the same general area as Insadong, but it was always closed during the day. So I knew I had to have it here. They offer it several ways and we tried the regular unflavored version, as well as the sweet-spicy type. Wings and drumsticks for both, although you can order other parts (breast meat only, half chicken, or full bird).
How can I best describe the exterior coating? Crispy, yes. Seemingly lighter than say your regular chicken wings at a Canadian pub or the dreaded KFC, yes. Lightly seasoned for sure. But that’s where the sides come into play.
You see, with the plain fried chicken here, its up to you to flavor it as you desire. The mixture of salt/pepper/sesame seeds is the one I like. A ketchup/mayo dipping sauce was also on hand. And to give some refreshing relief to all that deep fried, oily goodness, the crispness of some fresh daikon, cut into bite size cubes. Palate cleanser and your vegetables all in one!
Essentially the same wings were used here, only they were tossed in a sweet-spicy coating and known as Yangnyeom Chicken. Gets a touch messy with your fingers, but if you’ve ever spent any time in a 10 cent wing joint (I think that’s how cheap they were when I was in college), you know the deal. I think the extra coating slows down the pace you can eat these at, and perhaps the touch of heat does as well. But nothing goes better with a cold mug of Hite!
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, both in terms of location for you Vancouverites and a taste of some popular Korean pub grub, Mexican Chicken Hof is for you. Just don’t mind the somewhat dim lights and some might say unusual appearance of the place, its all part of the appeal.