Oh sure, the Heights is absolutely drowning in fried chicken these days thanks to restaurants like The Bird House, The Chicken Ranch and even Funky Chicken, but what about the rest of Houston? And why is the new wave of chicken joints so relentlessly Southern? Doesn't anyone want chicken with seasonings other than salt, pepper and buttermilk?
The husband and wife team of Jason and Mary Cho are here to help. It's been over a year since developer Christopher Balat announced that one of the restaurants in his newly constructed Parc Binz building in the Museum District would be a Korean fried chicken restaurant named Dak & Bop (chicken and rice in Korean), but the Cho's are finally less than a month away from opening the doors.
Hooked by the twice-fried process that allows for both a crispy crust and juicy meat, Cho began planning to open a restaurant in Houston.
Jason Cho tells CultureMap that his interest in opening a restaurant began years ago when he visited his sister in New York and tried Korean fried chicken for the first time. "I'm Korean, but I've never been to Korea. I had never had Korean fried chicken before."
Hooked by the twice-fried process that allows for both a crispy crust and juicy meat, Cho began planning to open a restaurant in Houston. He started training in 2011 at New York restaurant Mad For Chicken and has partnered with the company for recipes, but Dak & Bop is still a separate concept.
"(Dak & Bop) is not a franchise. I'm my own entity, doing my own thing," Cho explains. "I'm personally and financially invested in this."
Prior to entering the restaurant business, Cho followed his father's footsteps and opened a series of Tae Kwon Do schools. Cho had envisioned Dak & Bop as the business that might allow his father to retire, but he passed away in September. "I'm doing this in his memory," he says.
To get a sense of the market, Cho says he's tried local Korean fried chicken options like Toreore and Dosi. "I love their interpretations of it, but it's not the same as New York," Cho says. "What sets ours apart is the sauces: soy-garlic (savory and sweet) and hot and spicy (a blend of Korean and Asian peppers)."
In addition to sauces, Dak & Bop will distinguish itself by using all-natural, cage-free chicken and serving craft beer. The restaurant will have 14 taps that mix local and national options as well as bottles and cans.
How will diners receive Cho's self-described "fancy version of a wing joint?" A soft-opening is tentatively scheduled for Black Friday. If everything comes together, a little chicken could be the perfect respite from wrestling over that 70-percent off flatscreen.