Ultimate Chicken Bistro

Asian
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Ultimate Chicken Bistro photo
Mark Gail/The Post
'

Editorial Review

Review

Ultimate Chicken Bistro
By Becky Krystal
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You know the chicken jokes: Why did it cross the road. [Insert obscure meat] tastes like chicken. But the humble poultry is no laughing matter to Sang Moon, whose affinity for the versatile meat has led him to embrace not only his native Korean cuisine but also those of France, Italy, Mexico, Japan and China.

Moon’s family runs one of the largest chicken processing companies in South Korea. He owns a franchise location of the Korean chain Cheogajip Chicken in Annandale. And now the 36-year-old Alexandria resident has set out on his first solo venture with Ultimate Chicken Bistro in Falls Church’s Loehmann’s Plaza.

“I like chicken, and I like cooking,” Moon explains as his motivation for UCB, which opened in November of last year.

As at Cheogajip, the starring menu item is Korean fried chicken (half chicken, $9; whole, $16; seven wings, $9; 15 wings, $16), which differs from its American counterpart with a thin, crackling, almost translucent crust. Starting with birds from Delaware-based processor Allen Family Foods, each order is fried individually in soybean oil, so allow for a more than 15-minute wait.

The 27-spice fried chicken comes two ways: plain, and glazed with a soy-garlic dressing that counts brown sugar, oyster sauce and fresh ginger among its ingredients.

“I recommend soy-garlic, because it has more flavor,” Moon says.

We agree. The dressing creates a pleasingly sweet, sticky exterior. It also helps compensate for the slightly overcooked crust. With the unglazed version, we were generous with the mild dipping sauce provided with every order. (We wished that a promised, spicier version had made it into our bag.) Moon said the mild sauce includes several dozen ingredients, including mayonnaise, ketchup, onion and garlic.

We chose two American-style sides; one side comes with each order ($3 when purchased separately). The coleslaw was crisp, a bit sweet and satisfyingly light on mayo. French fries became soggy in their to-go container. Still, we liked their seasoning with hints of garlic and herbs.

The teriyaki chicken on a bed of sticky steamed rice in our bento box (lunch, $7; dinner, $11) had just enough grilled flavor but was on the salty side. The box came with passable California rolls, plus fried dumplings and a too-limp salad. Feeling a bit contrary, we sampled a vegetable teppanyaki (lunch, $7; dinner, $10) that needed some more-powerful spices.

UCB does non-Asian chicken dishes as well, including the popular chicken fajitas (lunch, $8; dinner, $11) and chicken cordon bleu (lunch, $9; dinner, $12). We were pleasantly surprised by the chicken Parmesan, whose moist breast meat is marinated overnight in olive oil, herbs and spices, then coated with a panko crust and baked (lunch, $9; dinner, $12).

Moon says he’s experimenting with a sous-vide chicken dish. One-trick poultry? Hardly.

By Becky Krystal
Wednesday, May 13, 2012

You know the chicken jokes: Why did it cross the road. [Insert obscure meat] tastes like chicken. But the humble poultry is no laughing matter to Sang Moon, whose affinity for the versatile meat has led him to embrace not only his native Korean cuisine but also those of France, Italy, Mexico, Japan and China.

Moon's family runs one of the largest chicken processing companies in South Korea. He owns a franchise location of the Korean chain Cheogajip Chicken in Annandale. And now the 36-year-old Alexandria resident has set out on his first solo venture with Ultimate Chicken Bistro in Falls Church's Loehmann's Plaza.

"I like chicken, and I like cooking," Moon explains as his motivation for UCB, which opened in November of last year.

As at Cheogajip, the starring menu item is Korean fried chicken (half chicken, $9; whole, $16; seven wings, $9; 15 wings, $16), which differs from its American counterpart with a thin, crackling, almost translucent crust. Starting with birds from Delaware-based processor Allen Family Foods, each order is fried individually in soybean oil, so allow for a more than 15-minute wait.

The 27-spice fried chicken comes two ways: plain, and glazed with a soy-garlic dressing that counts brown sugar, oyster sauce and fresh ginger among its ingredients.

"I recommend soy-garlic, because it has more flavor," Moon says.

We agree. The dressing creates a pleasingly sweet, sticky exterior. It also helps compensate for the slightly overcooked crust. With the unglazed version, we were generous with the mild dipping sauce provided with every order. (We wished that a promised, spicier version had made it into our bag.) Moon said the mild sauce includes several dozen ingredients, including mayonnaise, ketchup, onion and garlic.

We chose two American-style sides; one side comes with each order ($3 when purchased separately). The coleslaw was crisp, a bit sweet and satisfyingly light on mayo. French fries became soggy in their to-go container. Still, we liked their seasoning with hints of garlic and herbs.

The teriyaki chicken on a bed of sticky steamed rice in our bento box (lunch, $7; dinner, $11) had just enough grilled flavor but was on the salty side. The box came with passable California rolls, plus fried dumplings and a too-limp salad. Feeling a bit contrary, we sampled a vegetable teppanyaki (lunch, $7; dinner, $10) that needed some more-powerful spices.

UCB does non-Asian chicken dishes as well, including the popular chicken fajitas (lunch, $8; dinner, $11) and chicken cordon bleu (lunch, $9; dinner, $12). We were pleasantly surprised by the chicken Parmesan, whose moist breast meat is marinated overnight in olive oil, herbs and spices, then coated with a panko crust and baked (lunch, $9; dinner, $12).

Moon says he's experimenting with a sous-vide chicken dish. One-trick poultry? Hardly.