Is there anything more comforting than fried chicken? Perhaps proper crispy chips with a good Béarnaise sauce might shade it, but you can’t live on chips alone (although I’d be willing to give it a try if Gaz in Michael’s Blackrock made them).
Biting into juicy tender chicken encased in a crunchy spicy batter is supremely satisfying and these days there are more than a few options in Dublin with Mad Egg (reviewed here in November 2018) particularly recommended.
The prospect of Chimac opening, however, had me very excited, for the simple reason that they were promising KFC. No, not that other place but Korean Fried Chicken, as in the food world it is generally accepted that the very best fried chicken is in either Atlanta or Korea, and purists usually opt for Korea.
Chimac is the brainchild of Sofie Rooney and chef Garret Fitzgerald, who fell in love with the Korean version in San Francisco and on a visit to Seoul. Korean fried chicken is usually lighter and crispier than southern-fried chicken with a lighter batter and whole pieces of chicken are typically twice-fried and then coated with a sweet-salty-spicy sauce.
Chimac is located on busy foodie Aungier St in Dublin just opposite Uno Mas and Lucky Tortoise and the room is simple and comfortable but free of frills.
The menu is a short one-page card with four ‘Chicken Sambos’ for €8.95 each plus fries, wings, nuggets and sides. There is a good choice of seven craft beers (and a Cider) from the likes of Whiplash, White Hag, Hopfully and Lervig (Norway) and a choice of five wines and a Prosecco — our Ulecia Castille Tempranillo (€27) was fruity and soft and suited the food. We also ordered a Frosé (€7), a delicious citrusy slushy rosé which came in a tin mug and was far tastier than you might imagine.
I visited twice, the first time with four others, including a Korean friend, where we ordered the full menu except wings. My Korean friend enjoyed it but besides some of the sauces could not see anything particularly Korean about the food. On a second trip to try the wings (6 for €6) she was more impressed, so make sure you order them — a beguiling sweet and spicy light batter encasing tender sweet chicken — I even sucked on the bones.
As for the fried chicken burgers they work well with crunchy tasty batter, tender chicken, good sauces and I particularly liked the Classic with Korean hot sauce, and pickled daikon slaw as well as the BBQ version and the cheesy option.
The veggie Cauliflower wings were solid enough (Vish Shop’s are better), but beaten easily by the crunchy XL Nugs which were crispy outside and juicy within.
If the burgers were eight out of ten and the wings nine out of ten the fries were a disappointing five or six — half crunchy, half flaccid. Let’s be crystal clear: there is absolutely no reason to leave the skin on potatoes used for chips, it doesn’t make them look better, it doesn’t make them taste better and it definitely reduces the chance that they will be crisp as moisture builds up under the skin. If you do manage to dry out this moisture you end up with a dried out chip with zero fluffiness.
I hope Gaz in Michaels doesn’t mind me telling you but his recipe is simple — Maris Piper potatoes cooked the night before and then chilled to be re-fried once they are ordered. I realise making proper chips is time-consuming but it is also easy — surely a reputation for excellent chips should be the ultimate accolade for a restaurant?
Desserts in Chimac are promised but still being worked on and there were none available on either of my visits so we headed to Scoop Gelato parlour a few doors down for some very satisfying and generously proportioned cones.
Chimac is a great addition to Dublin and I can see them rolling out to other locations.
Now I completely get Chimac is only claiming inspiration from Korea and, chips aside, the food offering here is good, but I’d love to see more Seoul in the food — why not offer sides of kimchiand options for fried thighs and drumsticks? Let’s hope theyarrive on the menu soon along with with the desserts.
A meal for five people including four chicken sandwiches, fries, two sets of wings, nuggets and salad plus a bottle of wine, a craft beer and a rosé slushy cost a reasonable €99.30
Tuesday: 12.30pm - 9.30pm
Wednesday and Thursday: 12.30pm - 10pm
Friday and Saturday: 12.30pm - 10.30pm
In a sentence
A tasty inexpensive Korea-inspired fried chicken joint — a good start but I’m hoping it will get better.