Many years ago as a teen, I had the chance to visit HanChon, a small eatery in Sri Hartamas that no longer exists. It gave me my first experience of the Korean take on fried chicken. Unfortunately for this small and unassuming eatery, family run, yet not the most affordable made it unsustainable I guess.
Though ten years later, a ‘revival’ of Korean entertainment fandom played catalyst to Korean eateries mushrooming around Malaysia’s major cities. However, Korea’s fried chicken outlets seemed to be exempt from this phenomenon as compared to other categories such as Korean BBQ.
I suppose with fried chicken being such a common food in any metropolitan area, its hard to think of it as a Korean special, particularly in Malaysia where you have plenty of fried chicken varieties, coming from nasi kandar outlets, Chinese mixed rice coffee shop stalls, Malay nasi kukus and nasi lemak offerings.
That said, what I remembered about my experience in HanChon was that their chicken skin was always crispy and meat always tender with a distinguishable coating of sauce on top. Even from that time, I never saw it become a common local offering and I’ve been jonesing for it ever since I noticed Pelican Chicken was open at eCurve.
This branch (of which there is another in Atria apparently) can probably seat up to 30 people comfortably at one go with a few tables inside and the rest mostly outside, next to the railing.
As is probably apparent from the fact its located in a mall and has a cafe-like interior, it is a major chain which is highlighted probably even more by their looping tv advertisements showcasing popular Kpop bands Sistar and 2PM. We all know such endorsements aren’t cheap.
Their mode of service is identical to burger outlets such as myBurgerLab and KGB where you have to line up first, review the menu and pay before grabbing your reference number and sitting place. If you sit at a table, their staff may hand you a menu but they won’t take your order and will direct you to the pay counter. I feel that this sort of customer interaction is not well suited to Pelicana for three reasons:
- The full menu isn’t displayed above counter like McDonalds or myBurgerLab making it impossible to fully review the menu by looking up at the vertically rolling menu on screen.
- The paper menu that you’ll need to look at is extensive enough that you’ll need some time to look it through before confirming an order (unless you’re a returning customer with a one-track mind that orders the same thing all the time).
- For this mode of minimal service, a 10% service charge is imposed on your total bill (which I know for a fact is non-existent at KGB).
This service mode may work at low-peak hours, but I don’t see it being a strategic service mode if they want to service more customers at a time knowing its varied product configuration.
To show you what I mean by an extensive menu that can’t fit on three screens, take a look (click on each to enlarge):
Individuals and first-timers may want to try their combos of which there are a few configurations but its basically rice with pickled vegetables and fried chicken. The thing is, there’s only one combo where you can choose the flavour of wings you want but for others you have to accept the default flavour ‘Original’, which to me isn’t very customer oriented.
Moving on to how the food itself actually is, I can say that it does taste good and is worth trying. I’ve had the chance to taste three different flavours,Original, Garlic (is not listed in the menu but is advertised on one of their promo cards on the tables) and Charcoal BBQ.
Mini Together Chicken Combo (Original YangNyeom)
4cs YangNyeom Combo (Charcoal BBQ YangNyeom)
Garlic YangNyeom Chicken
First off, my primary expectation of Korean friend chicken is a good coating of sauce, which thankfully is present in Pelicana’s final product. For the ‘Original’ flavour, its got that sweetish tamarind taste to it. Actually when I think about it, its similar to some Chinese restaurants that serve tamarind chicken, minus the bit of alcohol they usually include. The coating for this one is quite thick.
The other two however, Garlic and Charcoal BBQ don’t have such a thick coating which is evident once you chew in but it doesn’t take anything away from the taste you’d want so it’s all good. There’s not too much to explain about the Garlic flavour, its self explanatory but for Charcoal BBQ its probably worth mentioning that it does leave a spicy taste in your mouth. I don’t know why the name includes charcoal though, a more accurate name would simply be Spicy BBQ.
All in all, the chicken is good. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with thick sauce coatings make it a slightly more unique fried chicken experience made common and accessible.
That said, I have my reservations about Pelican Chicken being a place that serves value for money, which I’ll explain with an example.
The 4pcs YangNyeom Combo is priced at RM 13.90 on the menu. That’s pretty okay right? During lunch it comes with a free soft drink. I was there during dinner so I added an iced water which brought the total up slightly to RM 14.90. Here’s my invoice (click to enlarge):
On menu the price is good, but like I mentioned earlier, you’ve got to add an extra 10% service charge, of which the total then is charged 6% GST (yes, there is GST for service charge too), which brings my total up to RM 17.35.
Looking at the photo, you can tell its a very small combo. Paying anything above RM 14 in total would be stretching the term ‘value for money’. Even four pieces of the more expensive chicken wings you find elsewhere might not cost you more than RM 12.
My conclusion is, the food is good. Its good enough for a return visit, but probably not that often. Its pricing point and inclusion of service charge needs a serious review. Until then, Malaysia’s burger joints are still going to enjoy the lions share of alternative fast food outlets.