Red Chicken Korean Restaurant – Vancouver, BC

Red Chicken Korean Restaurant
833 Bute Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 633-0667

Korean cuisine is diverse and full of rich history, but in many circles it is known for one major characteristic – it’s heat!  And one of the hottest and spiciest dishes is buldak – literally ‘fire chicken’.

Reminiscent of the dominating red colour that flooded the streets of Seoul during that country’s incredible run to the final four at the 2002 World Cup, the signage at Red Chicken Korean Restaurant in downtown Vancouver shouted out at me.  Earlier this year, I had previously been invited to dine at this place and try their renowned fiery chicken, but finally I was able to join a group outing recently to try it for the very first time.

With large glass windows facing the street, the natural lighting in the space is very pleasant, and once the sun sets, the lights are lowered a bit, giving a more intimate feel inside.  The mood changed dramatically once it got dark, from friendly, casual restaurant to more drinking-spot kind of vibe.  The flood of teens and twenty-somethings all enjoying their food and conversation certainly helped to create this boisterous atmosphere.

The menu featured a well rounded selection of dishes that one typically finds in Korean restaurants in the Lower Mainland.  To start, a few of us ordered our own dishes, with the intention of sharing the chicken as a group.

Seolleongtang (ox bone soup) is really not much to look at, I realized as I was processing this image. I really must remember to take a shot of dishes like this with the hidden contents exposed as well – in this case, some steamed rice dumped inside.  I did manage to get a few spoonfuls of the broth just to be able to make some mental notes.  Nothing off about it, not overly salty or pungent with poor quality pork stock.  Lately, with take away food, I’ve been able to snap off photos one-handed, while holding up a fork or spoon with my free hand.  I suppose this could be done in restaurants too, but perhaps that’s just one step beyond weird (when I see some photogs snapping shots at other tables, some of them make me laugh or just cringe at their awkwardness; or piss me off like this one fellow who had a huge DSLR and using their flash constantly, all amid the small cramped and dark intimate space of La Buca the other night and annoying everyone in the space.  I suppose some people don’t know the meaning of etiquette.  I’m all for photographing food but there is a time and a place for when its okay).

My dolsot bibimbap was decent, nothing extraordinary about it in terms of balance of flavours, and at the same time not horrible by any means.   Photo taken above was before the gochujang (hot pepper paste) was added and it was all mixed together.  I admit, I wanted something on my own with some substance, in case the chicken would get the better of me later on in the meal.

As an aside, I noticed a young woman next to our table ordered the same thing and it was brought to her table at roughly the same time as mine.   BUT, she made no attempt to add the gochujang condiment AND ate it unmixed.  I felt like leaning over and saying to her, that’s like eating spaghetti noodles without any tomato sauce, or a hotdog without ketchup and mustard.  It was at this moment, that I realized the value of some Korean restaurants in town that will provide the added side table service of doing this adding and mixing for you.  Otherwise, for those who have no clue, they will probably forever eat this dish incorrectly.

And the main event.  Between the five of us, we ordered two full plates.  Good mix of pieces, smoky char and completely grilled skin.  Fighting through the blasts of heat was surprisingly less painful than I expected.  After a piece or two, I was totally into the well marinated chicken meat and brushing off the spiciness in my own mind.  Some of us fared better than others.  All the more for the rest of us who were game to have more than their fair share.  Not for the faint of heart or those who are too wimpy when it comes to spicy food.  Diners beware.

As a place that holds a unique niche with this buldak, I’d have to say that Red Chicken does have an edge.  Too many Korean restaurants in town just offer pretty much the same menu.  Of course, some do some dishes better than others.  But the originality is lacking.  So on this point alone, I’m sure that I’ll be back to try something that I can only get here (unless any of our Vancouver readers can point me in the direction of another establishment, but I’m pretty sure I’ve covered the vast majority of Korean cuisine-serving places in greater Vancouver).

Red Chicken Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

16 thoughts on “Red Chicken Korean Restaurant – Vancouver, BC

  1. Never had Buldak but that looks absolutely fantastic. Is the skin dry-ish, or is that shiny glaze actually sauce and not the lighting?

    • Skin is definitely dry-ish, the sheen you see is a combination of the brightly lit room and the natural light coming in from the nearby windows where we were seated. A bit of the marinade can get on your fingers, but I was eating carefully with a knife and fork. 🙂

  2. How spicy is this? Can you compare it to Wing Nuts super spicy wings (RIP btw) or Sammy J’s Da Bomb Sauce? Or some other kind of comparison so I can somewhat gauge before diving in…

    • Spiciness is subjective so I can’t accurately state a specific level as everyone’s opinion of hot spice is different. Not having had those two wings you mentioned, I can’t give a relative comparison either I’m afraid. If those are the “sear your lips” kind of heat, then it might be in the same ballpark. The heat might not come immediately but after a few seconds and bites, you’ll start to feel it.

  3. shokutsu :

    Skin is definitely dry-ish, the sheen you see is a combination of the brightly lit room and the natural light coming in from the nearby windows where we were seated. A bit of the marinade can get on your fingers, but I was eating carefully with a knife and fork. :)

    Knife and Fork? How civilized 😉

    I haven’t been to Red Chicken Korean yet and now I am anxious to go.

    You did leave out the most important detail: what kind of beer (if any) do they have there?

    • Plastic gloves were provided as well, but not enough to go around, hence the utensils. 🙂 I wasn’t sure if the burn of the chicken would transfer to my hands.

      No booze on this day, I’m sure beer would go well but would do nothing to appease the burning sensation. I think something with more ‘body” like makgeolli (Korean rice wine) would do better at coating your mouth while eating this fiery dish.

  4. I guess once again, your experience is different/better than mine. When I went there, it burned me so bad I couldn’t taste anything else. But then again, given my propensity to sweat bullets when eating extremely spicy food…

    BTW, i think those were really bad analogies. Check spaghetti carbonara. Oh, hot dog should be eaten WITHOUT catsup but OK with mustard. However, most people do not put either one of these in some ethnic hot dogs. Japadog? 🙂

  5. Pingback: Restaurant/Eating habits... | I'm Only Here for the Food!

  6. Just tried the famous spicy chicken. This was delicious. I am a spicy kind of person so having the spice just at the edge of being too hot to handle is perfect. Not really recommended for spicy food sensitive people. Also the chicken without bone is much more convenient to eat. The service was fast and efficient.

  7. Hey everyone, I’m a lover of all things Korean, and I had an amazing meal here! Holy hotness…

    And now I’m on a serious hunt: for the Korean Hot Dog! Has anyone heard about it? I’d love to spend all day eating Korean food: dogs on the street, crazy fire chicken at night. When I lived in Korea we had them all the time, with cheese steak and bulgogi sauce… OMG so good.

    Does anyone know where I can find a Korean Hot Dog?!

    • Glad to have aboard another fan of fiery hot Korean food in our foodosophy ship!

      I’ve heard of Korean-style hot dogs. Mainly swapping out the regular tube for some marinated beef (bulgogi). I can image ketchup being replaced with gochujang. Have you had those grilled sausages on a stick on the street of Korea? Sometimes chicken, sometimes pork…

      With the emergence of Indian and Mexican-influenced hot dogs on the streets of Vancouver, it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone come up with another ethnic-themed hot dog creation.

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