The hunt for the perfect poultry restaurant never ceases. This time, our quest brought us to a tiny restaurant hidden deep in Maadi. Finding a hidden gem is the biggest part of the fun for many, and the Daily News Egypt team had some talks about a Korean restaurant in Maadi whose entire menu consists of fried chicken options.
Finding the restaurant was not an easy mission, even for a Maadi resident, it is very hard to come across this restaurant by accident, as it falls on an obscure corner in a cosy street called Road 232.
Over the sound system, K-pop music was playing. In the open kitchen, a Korean cook greets everyone who takes a seat while, behind him, a young Egyptian man watches over the deep fryers. A Korean man, with his coal-black hair, waits on the cooks to fulfil the orders.
Kokio is something of a contradiction; the place is very cosy and moderate in size, with bright pistachio green walls and modern-looking decoration that does not look or feel very Korean. The first thing we noticed was that there was one small Korean family eating there at the time, a couple with their little girl.
The restaurant is based on a dish deeply connected to fast food culture, as fried chicken is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Korean.
The menu featured three main items: whole chicken or half chicken, chicken strips, and chicken wings, with plenty of options varying from soy-fried, spicy, to garlic. Additionally, there are some seafood options such as cuttlefish and squid, along with sides of homemade fries, sweet potato fries, and cabbage. However, the menu also contained an exotic appetizer called fried pupae, which is fried silkworm.
We were told that they are fried in peanut oil. We decided to taste every variant of chicken they offerd, and we wanted to test the fried pupae dish, but the waiter declined and told us this dish cannot be served to females, who made up half of our team.
The order took less than 30 minutes to arrive. The first thing you would notice about it was the exterior. The soy-fried chicken had an infused golden coating, with a bruised shade of crimson.
With the first bite, the chicken crackles under your teeth, its skin crisp and its meat unfailingly moist, you can feel the soy flavour, not overwhelmingly, but just a hint of the distinct taste that makes the chicken different than any other fried chicken I have ever tasted.
I am no stranger to chicken that drips with grease onto the white bread beneath, but that was not the case with Kokio. When it comes to the spicy-fried chicken, it had a kick of chili pepper, pronounced, but not overpowering.
The wings were spectacular, glazed in sweet chilli sauce, a little spicy, but within bearable range, with the same delicious crisp and tenderness.
The plain strips were fried extremely well, retaining their tenderness and juiciness inside, yet incredibly crunchy on the outside. Similarly, the soy-fried wings were fried just as well, but were even tastier thanks to the soy in the batter of the generously sized wings.
All in all, the overall experience was amazing, and if you are a fried chicken fan, you will not be disappointed. In terms of prices, they ranged from EGP 150-200 for a whole chicken and EGP 120 for the strips.