It was Ken Pope's fault. He'd got me thinking about Kimchi Mayo when he reportedly went to Ms G's restaurant (In Sydney) where he had possibly the best fried chicken he'd ever had, with crispy skin, moist meat, and nice Kimchi mayo for dipping. I couldn't stop thinking about it, what a great idea! Kimchi Mayo!
So I got a jar of Mother-In-Laws Kimchi, and blended it quickly in a food processor with Hellmann's mayonnaise, a tiny squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and OH it was good. I bought chicken from Bon Chon on St Mark's Place, tipped off by a friend who said they had the best Korean Fried Chicken in Manhattan. I put the Korean fried chicken (which is kind of salty and sweet) and the Kimchi mayo on a Pepperidge bun, fried in a little clarified butter and dosed it heavily with a Vinegar Jalapeno drizzle, and OH MY it was good.
So that got me talking, excitedly, here... and then all the way to San Francisco, where a photographer friend, Colin Clark (who's shooting out there right now) got excited about it too. He decided to make up a San Francisco version. He took to the streets and drove over 2 hours (sidetracked by a table he wanted to pick up from Craigslist, that he did pick up, and lug to the chicken place, and eventually home, but hated. Oh yeah, really regretted).
He picked up a chicken sandwich from a place called Bakesale Betty's. It's in the Temescal district of Oakland and apparently has a cult following. He got the Kimchi from Koreana Plaza, which is in downtown Oakland, where you can buy Kimchi by the barrel, Ramen in every flavor imaginable (and cuts of meat that he'd never seen before and couldn't possibly identify). He threw a few spoonfuls of Hellmans mayonnaise (which out West, is called Best Foods) into a food processor with a few forkfuls of his Kimchi and blended.
"The bread at Bakesale Betty's is kind of just a basic 'hoagie' style roll," says Colin, "Similar to what you'd find in a New York Deli, for an egg and cheeser, only long, and skinnier instead of round, closer to french baguette, but not as crusty. The salad on the roll turns out to be is a simple delicious slaw-type thing, cabbage, red onion, parsley and diced jalapenos, no mayo, it's slightly sweet, slightly vinegary."
I guess whether in New York, or San Francisco, when it comes to Fried Chicken (Korean or otherwise) and Kimchi Mayo, you can't go wrong. (But not so it seems, with rash purchases from Craigslist)