Existing simply as a conduit for Korean fried chicken, Furai Chicken, located inside the Zion Market in Irvine, boasts big flavors in a small space.
With an unquestionable passion for Korean fried chicken, Furai take-out and delivery-only outpost has a menu consisting of whole and halved fried chicken, which are served in a variety of different styles with different sauces and spices.
Furai Chicken is the product of Orange County Chef-Owner Tommy Kim, who currently operates Mokkoji Shabu Shabu in Costa Mesa.
Opened in 2017, Furai started as something small, according to Furai’s Zion Market location’s manager, Miguel Elizalde. Elizalde explained that by focusing on a unique niche, the Irvine location usually has a line starting early.
“It’s a traditional Korean-style fried chicken – it’s all Korean ingredients, Korean recipes,” he explained while speaking to Irvine Weekly. “We sell it by two portions, the half portion and the whole portion. The half is going to be five pieces, the whole is 10 pieces. The half chicken is literally half a chicken – you will get a leg, a thigh, a wing, and the breast is cut in half.”
Furai’s menu also offers chicken wings, served in the same variety of styles in increments of 10.
By incorporating a variety of different frying styles, Furai’s menu is decorated with chicken cooked in various renditions of crisp, spice and sweetness. From light crispy to a spicy “Fire” version, and even featuring traditional recipes like garlic and green onion.
While Furai Chicken’s menu is relatively small, it packs in variety while still offering dishes that give a subtle nod to traditional Korean cooking.
“Original is going to be our traditional, crispy fried chicken, and you choose your sauce – we have 10 different sauces, it varies in spices and sweetness,” Elizalde explained. “The old-fashioned is more rotisserie-style chicken, where we don’t cut it in pieces, we only batter it and we deep fry it – we cut it in half, but serve it whole. We called it old-fashioned because it’s an old-fashioned way of eating chicken in Korean culture.”
Elizalde added that some of Furai’s dishes are served pre-sauced, and in terms of popularity the sweet and spicy, soy garlic and Kang Jung were all top choices for those who enjoy getting their fingers sticky.
For those willing to get lost in the sauce, Furai’s list of house-made sauces will surely not disappoint. From a regular and spicy ranch, to lemon garlic, to smoke soy, a spicy “volcano” sauce, to a garlic jam and a traditional Kang Jung, Furai is clearly just as passionate about sauce as it is chicken.
While the gist of Furai’s Korean fried chicken menu will not get lost on the average KFC connoisseur, another interesting perspective of the Zion Market location is that this to-go only concept is designed to allow grocery shoppers to order food, collect groceries inside the market, and grab their Furai Chicken after they shop.
“Every order does take 15 minutes, but only because we cook to order. Every day it’s fresh chicken. Sometimes on the weekend, we tend to sell out because we try to keep that consistency of freshness,” Elizalde explained. “Just the fact that it takes 15 minutes to cook, the main concept of being able to come and shop, but place the order before you start shopping, even if it takes 30-40 minutes – it was a good idea.”
Now with a few franchise locations, Furai’s Zion Market location is the only one in Orange County.
“We started small, but it’s getting big though. We’ve got one in L.A. County, we got one in Riverside County,” Elizalde tells us.
If you go, be sure to check out the pre-sauced Kang Jung, a traditional Korean dish.
“[It’s] more of a mild Korean sauce, with a small hint of ginger and cinnamon. We cook it with a Korean spicy chili powder as well,” Elizalde said. “Once the chicken comes out of the fryer, for the Kang Jung specifically, we toss it with mild Korean sauce, then we top it with bits of rice cakes, which have a very chewy, savory texture. Once we toss it with the sauce, then we top it off with red dried chili pepper flakes, green serranos, sliced almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. It’s very good – to look at and taste.”
Furai Chicken is located at 4800 Irvine Blvd. #101 Irvine