Chef Kevin Lee’s new Korean fried chicken concept Birdie’s opens this week with limited hours.
Early tastings of the menu indicate that the south Edmond restaurant will be a popular destination, for both the food and the excellent bar. The menu is very focused: Chicken is the star, and it doesn’t share its status with any other proteins. Yes, there is mac ‘n’ cheese, and yes, you can get the chicken pan roasted — but chicken, especially the fried variety, is the point.
“The batter style, and the fact that it’s double fried, is what makes it Korean fried chicken,” Lee said. “The batter has corn flour, wheat flour, rice flour to give it the signature crunchiness.”
The crunch is noticeable, a very pleasant surprise for fans of texture. The chicken is brined, so the flavor is consistent throughout, and you get a choice of dry seasoning blends or sauces for the wings, drumsticks, boneless thighs and tenders. The standout among them is definitely the cheekily named “KFC sauce.”
“The KFC sauce is very traditional,” Lee said. “For a long time, it was the only sauce you could get on Korean fried chicken, but the food has evolved, and so now most places offer multiple options. It’s basically a spicy sweet and sour we put our own twist on.”
The chile garlic honey sauce is sure to be a favorite too: pleasant heat level, tons of umami, a little funkiness and great acidity. Dry seasonings have less heat, and the chicken is moist enough that it doesn’t need a sauce, but trying different variations is half the fun.
For dessert, there is only one choice — unless you opt for a cocktail. It’s a massive bowl of creamy, frozen, banana deliciousness. Lee created a bananas foster sundae with vanilla ice cream, sauteed bananas, a freshly cooked churro and Amiee’s banana pudding. Amiee?
“It’s named for Amiee Taylor-Richardson,” Lee said. “She’s my neighbor — an Edmond kindergarten teacher — and she has this delicious banana pudding recipe. I asked if we could use her recipe, and she said, ‘As long as you put my name on the menu.’”
Lee also scored industry veteran KC Ortega to run front of house, and she’s deeply involved in the bar program, too. Guthrie-based Wanderfolk Spirits are prominent on the cocktail list, including the delicious Garden Party, a sparkling cocktail with strawberry as the focus. A frozen cocktail and wine on tap add to a menu that is flexible, fun, modern and perfect with the food.
Like all food concepts now, Birdie’s is still short-staffed ahead of the Thursday opening, and Lee said the restaurant will run on limited hours temporarily. For now, it will be open Tuesday-Sunday 3-9 pm, with the goal of being seven days a week lunch and dinner when staffed appropriately. “Once we get fully staffed, we’ll have an actual grand opening,” Lee said.