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McALLEN — My editor suggested that I write a review about a barbecue restaurant, but then my girlfriend said that she wanted something different.
I asked her what she wanted, and she said that she didn’t know. I offered numerous suggestions, and each one was shot down.
“Well, then what do you feel like eating?” I asked her.
“I don’t know, you pick,” she responded. This went on for a few minutes, and we both grew increasingly frustrated with my inability to read her mind.
Finally, when all hope seemed lost, she suggested that we go eat at Kiri Kiri Korean Fried Chicken, which is what I would’ve suggested if I hadn’t been distracted by her good looks and beautiful brain.
This story was not written under duress, by the way.
Kiri Kiri is located in a small plaza at 5401 N. 10th St., Suite 129.
Walking through the doors, there was an immediate sense of excitement that seemed to be fueled by the incessant sound of K-pop music videos playing from one of their TVs.
Their menu is on a small, laminated piece of paper on the counter, next to some air fresheners and other little souvenirs. It is short, simple, direct and not at all intimidating for anyone who is unfamiliar with Korean cuisine. Not me, but other people. Obviously not you people, either.
The restaurant specializes in Korean fried chicken, but also offers a handful of other options for any killjoys.
I decided to go with an order of soy garlic chicken wings and an order of French fries, and my girlfriend decided on an order of the spicy buldak, or stir-fried chicken, which comes with a side of steamed rice. The buldak also comes with cheese, but we politely declined.
We also decided to try an order of fried mandoo, or dumplings, as an appetizer.
I ordered a fountain drink, and discovered that they only have Pepsi products — a blow to my Coke addiction. I also ordered some delicious tap water for my girlfriend.
As we waited for our order, which took a while due to everything being made-to-order, we entered into a slightly heated discussion about the origins of K-pop, its influences and the westernization of pop culture in other parts of the world.
Just as my girlfriend had forced me to submit to her will and superior intellect, our food arrived.
The fried mandoo was served with a packet of soy sauce, which we drizzled over the crispy dumplings. There was a satisfying crunch with each bite, followed by the soft, steamy, savory chicken filling.
Unlike other dumplings that are pan-fried or steamed, these were fried. The moisture inside the flaky pouch was unaffected.
The spicy buldak was … spicy, but not unbearable. The chicken was tender and served with sliced cabbage and ribboned carrots mixed in, slathered in a thin, tangy and spicy sauce. The steamed rice that comes with it is always a hit or miss on tenderness. If this meal was like a game of Battleship, let’s just say the rice didn’t hurt my fleet. (It missed.)
As someone who drools at the very mention of chicken wings, like a Pavlovian test subject, I was more than satisfied with my order. The wings were battered and fried before being tossed in the sticky yet delicious soy garlic sauce. There was a bit of crunch from the batter, but the chicken was tender and juicy.
The biggest surprise were the French fries, which I ate with a drizzle of ranch dressing because I’m of a higher level. They were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfectly seasoned. I couldn’t shove those fries into my mouth fast enough. My girlfriend was visibly impressed.
Overall, the entire experience was wonderful, the food was absolutely delicious and the employees were incredibly friendly. We will definitely be returning (when my girlfriend feels like it).
Kiri Kiri Korean Fried Chicken is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.