Crispy, Korean-style fried chicken is here in Hell’s Kitchen! Say hello to Koji Chicken, a new venture combining two restaurateurs’ passions for fried chicken and bubble tea in a friendly, well-lit counter cafe.
The 9th Avenue storefront offers freshly fried chicken sandwiches, nuggets and wings, all cooked with Koji Chicken’s proprietary recipe and authentic Korean techniques of a thin, crackled crust — as well as multiple flavors of bubble tea, a traditional Taiwanese beverage made from tapioca pearls. In another sign that Hell’s Kitchen’s empty storefronts are being revived, Koji replaces Afghan Kebab House, in a building that recently had an electrical fire.
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For founders Elvan Wang and Jayden Yeom, the opening of Koji Chicken is a marriage of their prior restaurant experience. Elvan is the longtime owner of Juicy Cube, a Midtown East juice, bubble tea and smoothie bar, while Jayden founded the Upper East Side’s Chicken Insider, another Korean-style fried chicken shop, where the cafe’s batter recipe was born.
“We’re very focused on our in-house marinade and sauces — we make our own batter and all of our sauces,” Elvan told W42ST, adding that the menu would continue to evolve as they tested dishes with their new Hell’s Kitchen clientele. As for staking a claim on 9th Avenue, Elvan told W42ST it was an easy decision. “We love the neighborhood — it’s super current, and we thought this would be the best place to get exposure,” he said. “We initially thought it would be mostly tourists, but since we’ve opened we’ve already had a lot of local customers.”
One of those locals is Hell’s Kitchen resident, Judy, an enthusiastic self-identified foodie who had been eagerly awaiting the shop’s opening. “I heard they were coming to 9th Avenue and when I passed by and saw they were open, I wanted to see how crispy the chicken was and try it for myself!” Koji has now joined 10th Avenue cafe Bulbap Grill as her go-tos for Korean fare, adding to the rich tapestry of Korean cuisine helmed by W42ST reader (and sometimes-Michelin starred) favorites Kochi, Danji and Mari.
Judy was joined by a steady stream of late lunch diners as Elvan and Jayden marveled at the eager response they’d received since opening. If the model is successful they hope to expand to further locations. Judging from the neighborhood’s quick embrace, they’re well on their way!
Koji Chicken is located at 764 9th Avenue and is open from 11:30am-9:30pm Monday through Thursday, 11:30am-10:00pm Friday-Saturday, and 11:30am-9:30pm Sunday.