A popular Korean fried chicken franchise opened its first New York City location on the Upper East Side late last month.
CM Chicken has been operating at 1764 First Avenue (at 92nd Street) since December 21. Katie Son, who owns the franchise with her husband Jay, says they chose the neighborhood because it’s a nice, quiet area.
Fried chicken has been a widely popular food in South Korea since at least the 1970s, although its origins are contested. It is known that the first Korean fried chicken franchise, Lims chicken, was opened by Yu Seok-ho in the basement of a department store in Seoul in 1977. The dish remains popular today, served at celebrations or enjoyed with a cold drink after work. Korean fried chicken differs from the American variety because it’s double fried and has a layer of potato starch under the breading, making it very crispy outside and tender inside.
CM Chicken, short for Choong Man Chicken, was born in South Korea in 2009 and then expanded to the U.S. There are currently 40 locations here, two of which are in New Jersey. But the First Avenue store is their first storefront in the five boroughs.
Katie tells East Side Feed their most popular item is the Garlic Soy Chicken, a traditional and well-known preparation with chili soy sauce. However, CM has two unique recipes: Tikkudak, which means “grilled and fried” in Korean, and Snow Onion. The Tikkudak is just as it says, charcoal broiled and fried for a smokey addition to the crispy batter. The Tikkudak with garlic sauce is sweet, spicy, crunchy and tender all at once. The Snow Onion features traditional fried chicken topped with sliced onions and sauce; mildly creamy with slightly sweet onions that aren’t overwhelming.
Katie says the traditional garlic spicy option makes her think of the chicken she ate as a kid, but she also enjoys the newest popular dish in Korea, the Cheesemonster, with powdered cheese and cheese sauce. All varieties of chicken come as whole or half birds, tenders, drumsticks or wings, and are served with a choice of dipping sauces. Prices depend on size and preparation, ranging from $11.99 up to $30.99 for a whole chicken.
Each dish is made fresh to order and takes about 20 minutes, so ordering online for pickup is a good option. Learn more and order online at cmchicken-ues.com and follow @cmchickennyc1stave on Instagram.