How many of us knew Korean food is available over the counter at a place in Kolkata? Not many for sure, that may include some of the office goers that have been visiting this restaurant for their inexpensive weekday buffets – not really for Korean food. Run by a Korean family, Family Chicken in Salt Lake Swimming Pool area has been a haven for many office goers and expat Koreans at one point of time. I see less of the latter these days, but glad to know the place hasn’t succumbed to popular demand and still serves Korean comfort food. While the Korean menu isn’t as elaborate as a full-fledged Korean restaurant usually has – there are no grills and galbis and casseroles or stews – they manage to have quite a few comfort dishes that would be a good break for the taste buds.

The Korean spicy chicken fry has always been popular – who wouldn’t love crispy crumb fried chicken doused in a sticky spicy sweet gravy that is so addictive?

Korean fried chicken
Korean fried chicken

If one is super hungry and cannot be bothered to pick and choose from a menu, I would highly recommend their wholesome meal options – stir fry of your choice served with rice and a soup on the side. The Korean stir fry sauce reeks pleasantly of gochujang – Korean chilly paste that has a sweet kick – and sesame oil. Also, please order individual meals for yourselves. You probably wouldn’t want to share either.

Stir fried pork with vegetables and rice
Stir fried pork with vegetables and rice
Stir fried squid and rice
Stir fried squid and rice

I usually settle for the omnipopular bibimbap – shredded meat, veggies, mushrooms, greens and a fried egg with a big dollop of gochujang on the side, one couldn’t ask for more. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a crunchy rice crust at the end of your clay bowl.

Its a surprise that while Family Chicken has always been there for more than six years, I hardly came across any real reviews of the place and the Korean food it serves. At one point in time, they used to have a lavish buffet at a mere 150 bucks that as I remember, included Korean fried chicken, kimbap (Korean version of seaweed egg rolls), pickled veggies along with the regular fare. Slowly, their buffet menu came down to only Indian and some Chinese food. It is slightly sad to see places succumb to such passive aggressive pressures from non-adventurous diners. Yes, the music could be tacky, maybe the owners could share their playlist with their staff to make the ambiance more Oriental, and maybe that could inspire a couple of visitors to try out something other than chilly chicken chowmein, just maybe.

The place could be low key but their food still rocks, so let’s think twice before writing off Kolkata when it comes to variety in International food. Perhaps we haven’t tried all the places yet.

P.S. I found an encouraging mention in the Telegraph on the owner Ju Yeon Seo and her plans of opening a Korean supermarket in Kolkata (yay!!). Ms Seo, rest assured me and my family would look forward to that!

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