Friday, 4 August 2017

Wing Wing, Euston

The last few months saw the opening of two brand-new chicken concepts in London. To be honest, there have probably been a whole load of other new chicken concepts open in London, but I didn't get press releases about any others so they don't matter. One - Chik'n in Baker St - is from the guys behind Chick'n'Sours and is, predictably, brilliant; high quality chicken matched with a variety of interesting Asian-Fusion sauces and sides, and all for barely more than you'd spend at your local Chicken Cottage. It's great, and you should go.

The other is Wing Wing. And it's not terrible, or even particularly expensive, it's just not what I was hoping it would be. For a start, they call themselves Korean. And what do you think of when someone mentions Korean Fried Chicken? For me, it's piping hot wings in a medium-crunchy batter, doused in a bright red sweet/sour sauce and coated in sesame seeds. "Dakgangjeong" I believe they're called and I've found no better example recently than these, which were a special collaboration between Gizzi Erskine and Tonkotsu a couple of months back.

It's hardly Wing Wing's fault that I'm projecting my own expectations of what Korean food should be on people that - let's face it - are perfectly entitled to decide that for themselves, but shouldn't that style at least be an option on what is quite a large menu? There's room for katsu bao, chicken burgers, wraps, fish & chips(?), rice boxes, salad boxes and god knows how many desserts but the main event itself - the chicken - comes either as wings or drumsticks (no thighs or breast or option to have whole half or quarter pieces) and brushed with three "glazes" that are so lightly applied that they all just end up tasting identical.

On my first visit I tried six "hot" wings, which were certainly hot in terms of temperature but barely registered at all on the Scoville scale. The chicken itself was strong and healthy-looking, with good firm flesh and nice big bones. And I suppose there interest in the skin, which was delicate and gave with a nice crunch. But it just didn't taste of anything; not spices, salt, even MSG would have been something - it was as if some crucial part of the cooking process (ie. a nice sweet/sour sauce) had been missed out.

Drumsticks suffered from all the same issues as the wings, and despite choosing the "soy garlic" glaze had the same dry coating and tasted completely indistinguishable. They weren't bad, just boring, and animal welfare issues aside if I had the choice again I'd stick with Chicken Cottage. In fact, I don't know how Wing Wing treat their chickens as their website doesn't say, but they do seem a little more robust than your average high st place so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that.

Other menu items fared little better. A chicken wrap was probably the best of the things we tried, containing plenty of chicken and an interesting kimchi-spiked (I think) coleslaw.

But katsu bao was very weird, the bun tasting more like deep-fried brioche than the usual steamed style and the chicken suffering from the same lack of seasoning and excitement that affected the wings and drumsticks. Kimchi coleslaw on top was nice though.

So, little to love but little to hate either. For a place that on the face of it at least appears to be trying to stand out from the crowd, with its bold interior design and alcohol license, the only thing remarkable about Wing Wing is in the end how unremarkable it is - it's just another fast food place amidst the tourist tat of Euston, easily ignored. Which is a shame, really, considering what could have been if they'd just done some proper Korean fried chicken. And maybe they will, one day. Until then, I'm stik'n with Chik'n.


Sorry forgot to take a photo of the 2nd bill

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