South Korea’s biggest restaurant chain, Chir Chir (pronounced Chi-re Chi-re) has landed in Burwood. It’s the perfect excuse for chimaek – the harmonious pairing of fried chicken (chikin) and beer (maekju). Yeah okay, there’s nothing particularly highbrow going on here, except perhaps the setting.
Chir Chir’s digs are part of Burwood’s new Emerald Square dining precinct, which, in and of itself, is worth a gander. The modern shopping centre sits at the base of a series of residential towers, and offers wide, open-air aisles of restaurants each with a picture menu to lure in diners. While part of the development, Chir Chir also has street frontage on Belmore Street, just off the suburb’s bustling main drag (Burwood Road).
The design cues are funky and youthful, running from graphically strong black, white and red logo chicks, to rows of white caged hipster bulbs hanging from blonde-wood ceiling pieces that also house recessed lights.
In case you don’t get the eat fried chook and drink booze cue, bottles of Chum Churum ($14) line the wood paneled wall, arranged in alternating flavours.
It’s a dilute soju (Korean spirit) that is easy to knock back with fried cheesy food because it cuts the fat. It goes even better with a Korean Hite ($6) beer chaser.
We eschew the lolly water flavours - strawberry, green grape, citron – for the unadulterated original, but pay our preferences no mind; we’re the oldest diners in the place.
Equally, the menu isn’t really pitched at forty-plus. Despite the picture menus, we struggle to assemble a meal that includes vegetables, much to the bemusement of hip, shoulder-shrugging staff who clearly don’t get asked that much.
We end up with Honey Grape ($14.80), which I can only describe as the kind of salad a fifteen-year-old stoner would dream up when faced with the munchies and a near-empty fridge. It looks like an ice-cream sundae, but under the firm, split green grapes, whipped cream and cream cheese, you'll find lettuce. I have no analogies, and no desire to create any either, but in a purely functional sense, this dish will cool your mouth after eating spice.
Fried Chicken Half Half ($35) gives you the opportunity to try out Chir Chir’s signature crispy fried bird against a garlicky or spicy rendition. We opt for spicy, which on first bite seems quite mild and sweet, but turns out to be a creeper.
I punctuate chicken pieces with forays into little pots of creamy corn and pickled radish.
The straight-up Korean fried chook has better skin than you’ll find at KFC. It’s dry, and avoids my pet hate - slimy insides - too. The test is the breast, and here you’ll find it has good spice penetration and just enough moisture. I'm also enjoying keeping my fingers clean using my own set of chicken holding tongs. The portion isn’t ridiculously big like many Korean places that seem to be pitched solely at large groups. For our table of two that’s a win because we hate food waste, but it does make the dish seem more pricy.
New Orleans Wings ($26.80) add a bit of cook-at-the-table fun to your evening. Well-charred New Orleans-style grilled wings arrive fully cooked on a bed of cheese, corn and rice. Your on-table burner is turned on and the three ingredients melt into a cheesy, corn-studded crust that you scrape off the plate and combine with sweet, charry wing meat.
You don’t even have to be young and stoned to think this one is a good idea.
27 Belmore Street, Belmore
Ph: (02) 8937 2583