As someone who is almost ridiculously unable to resist fried chicken in all its permutations, I am probably the wrong person to be reviewing Dak & Bop. No, I definitely am. My taste for buttermilk-dipped, gluten-dusted chicken parts is legendary, reckless, indiscriminate. I have been known to rescue withered, petrified chicken parts from heat lamps in convenience stores, to liberate them from plastic containers while still in a Kroger checkout line. The angry spit and rumble of poultry pieces as they descend into boiling oil is for me a centering sound, and my bizarre, outsize affection for Tuesdays can only be explained by the 99-cent two-piece special at Church’s.
Anyway, Dak & Bop. Appropriately enough for a place in the Museum District, it is a shrine to the battered bird, and an unabashed one. The specialty is Korean fried chicken, a culinary subspecies characterized by crisp, crunchy skin, and sauces that run the gamut from garlicky to inflammable. The unique texture of such chicken is achieved via double-frying, a method that means twice the fun for extremists like me, one more piece of proof that Dak & Bop is essentially critic-proof, at least where I’m concerned.
Still, there were a few tense moments. The dining room—funky in an industrial, exposed-ductwork sort of way, if that can still be considered funky—is in line with fried chicken’s newfound pride of place within the gastronomic establishment. Gone are the hairnets, floured hands, and grease fires of yesteryear, and in their place we get truffle fries, blackberry-chili margaritas, and, thankfully, really good chicken.
Eventually, that is. The menu warns diners that they will not see any chicken for at least 30 minutes, owing to D&B’s made-to-order ethic. On one occasion, I waited roughly 39 minutes, 40 seconds, during which time I fidgeted my way through a plate of kimchi fries (still under consideration for the regular menu at press time, but a worthy addition), gnawed on the table, and scrolled through dozens of Internet testimonials by Korean fried chicken fanatics around the country, each more hysterical than the last.
By the time the plate arrived I must have looked wild-eyed and strung-out. Still, once my teeth tore their way through drumstick skin—its caramelized shell both sweet and spicy—and into the juicy, perfectly cooked flesh beneath, all was forgiven. Indeed, all memories of poultry purgatory were summarily erased. This new KFC, as devotees call it, possesses a succulent flavor burst that the Colonel can only dream of. In short, it justifies the frenzy.
I do not normally put much stock in Yelp, but I found my mind returning to something fellow birdbrain LuCy t. wrote about the wings she’d eaten at KyoChon in LA, where the American craze for Korean fried chicken arguably first began almost a decade ago. “They are just like Korean men,” she wrote. “Sweet and tasty at first, and then you realize the burning pain that is masked underneath. No matter how hard you try to resist, you can’t help but come back for more punishment, because you’ve somehow become addicted to this sadistic, self-inflicted pain.”
I have eaten neither KyoChon’s wings nor a Korean man, and yet somehow I know exactly what she means.