Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: bb.q ChickenRestaurant Insider
June 25, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with bb.q Chicken Hawaii owner YOONGIL YOON
Variations of the ever-popular fried chicken can be found all over the world. Here in Hawai‘i, Korean fried chicken is all the rage. A strong contender for best on the scene is bb.q Chicken (bb.q is an acronym for best of the best quality), which originated in Seoul, South Korea, in 1995. Since then, it has expanded to more than 3,500 locations worldwide. Its crispy, juicy and tender chicken are coated in a blend of authentic, unique Korean spices.
The bb.q brand has appeared in many Korean dramas and was endorsed by K-pop sensation BTS.
I met with Yoongil Yoon, an restaurateur and franchise owner/ developer in Hawaii, at his bb.q Chicken Kahala location to try this popular poultry and some of the other sought-after dishes. We talked about the food and what’s next for the eatery.
AL: Why did you want to bring bb.q Chicken to Hawaii?
YY: I have been a business owner here in Hawaii for a long time, and my younger brother is an owner/ operator. He was telling me about the demand and how popular bb.q Chicken was. With this being the most popular Korean fried chicken — and my personal favorite — I wanted to bring this to Hawaii.
With the popularity of Korean dramas here in Hawaii, I felt that this would be something that our local community would enjoy, and our visitors would also be familiar with since they have locations all over the world.
AL: What makes this Korean fried chicken different?
YY: The highest quality and attention is what the founder, chairman Yoon Hong-Guen, wanted to bring to his customers. There is a special olive oil used in the frying process; it’s a better, healthier option than vegetable oil. The chicken is then evenly coated in a secret mixture of seasonings and marinated in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Next, it’s dipped into a thick batter and dropped into a breading solution before it’s fried to order for four minutes until it’s perfectly cooked.
There are also variations of the level of spicy that we offer. Our new flavor is the Red Chak Chak, which is a golden fried chicken with red pepper powder with a slightly spicy kick. Koreans love their spice. For those that do not like spicy, we offer a wide array of flavors to satisfy any palate. Every six months we like to bring a new menu item for our customers.
AL: What did you prepare for us to try today?
YY: I believe our Chicken Sandwich ($7.99) is the best. It’s served on a brioche bun, and we pound out the chicken breast and fry it in olive oil. You can add your choice of secret sauce or hot spicy sauce, coleslaw and mayo. We also prepared half-and-half orders of wings, Golden Fried and Secret Sauced ($30.99 for 16 pieces).
Our chicken plates come with your choice of chicken wings (six-pieces) or Jamaican Grilled Chicken (two pieces) for $14.99. It comes with rice, two pieces of mandoo, coleslaw or mac salad.
I wanted you to try our Apple Pie. It’s not too sweet and you can really taste the flavor of the apple, a Granny Smith bite. With the purchase of $20 or more — and if you mention this article — we will give you one free!
The Works Ddeokbokki ($15.99) includes Spam, sausages, two pieces of mandoo and ramen in our signature spicy sauce.
Everything is made to order, so we recommend that you order ahead, but when walking in to place your order, please be patient while we prepare each item from scratch.
AL: What else do you want to share with our readers?
YY: The founder of this franchise wanted to make sure quality and execution was consistent. Few people can say that they’ve graduated from Chicken University; employees and owners actually attend this school in South Korea. It originated in 2000. It is not your traditional school, but an educational facility created for the owners to take a two-week course designed to teach you every step of the way, from managing operations, to preparing all the dishes and marketing. This is also where they conduct research for new menu items and enhance the customer experience.
Also, we will be opening in Waikiki in the next few months and possibly expanding to the neighbor islands.