Andrew Karpan



The surprising main event at the recently opened Ridgewood chicken joint Garlic to the Chicken isn’t the garlic: it’s the cheese.

One of four options available — along with “Soy,” “Spicy” and “Sweet chili” — to be paired with the restaurant’s take on Korean fried chicken, the pairing is an old Seoul fast food staple. You can find it, for instance on the menu at the Korean fast food chain BB.Q, which opened a new sit-down spot in Manhattan last year, where it comes with a coating of mascarpone.

But you can also find it here, where it serves as a testament to the idea’s rogue, brilliant simplicity. The very slight-looking cheddar powder—fried chicken already looks yellow-ish to begin with, this is purely resplendent — and deliver handsomely off a flavor you would discover, elsewhere at the bottom of a bag of Cheetos (this is a good thing). It is best enjoyed in chicken strip form, the optimal chicken-to-coating ratio. The experience is like wandering in a dream to the back of school bus to find yourself still there, where snacks are still some wholesome thing that are packed for you every day.

Located inside a former take-out Chinese spot, ordering at Garlic to the Chicken can feel a bit like waiting around inside another memory from early childhood: the dentist’s waiting room, where it is always clean, if a little sticky, and where a local news channel blasts car crash updates every hour of the day. A brick wall and large luminescent lighting give the suggestion of casual street food contained indoors, though most chicken fans will feel little reason not to take their order to go. Orders take about twenty minute. 

In addition to combinations of the aforementioned wings, thighs and strips, varieties of salads, dumplings and fries are also on menu. The dumplings, which are only available fried, pair excellently with the soy-flavored chicken—both deliver on crisp explosions of fried salt that rip like paper and will be gone within minutes.

Those in search of a healthier options will not go wrong with the edamame salad, boiled and accompanied only by the slightest whiff of salt and the restaurant’s signature seasoning. “Our whole menu consists of garlic-based food,” reads a sign. Like the chicken itself, the edamame is elegantly snackable, boiled just so, popping out of their pods with the savory ease of roasted nuts.

Which is no reason to skip out on the chicken itself, which is pure, crunchy bliss. The wings that are fried to the point of craters on a bleak forgotten moon, but are not as greasy, soggy or hard-as-tacks as their all-American cousins. Tearing into them is eagerly awaited and worth savoring.

Pleasures provided are small but delightful, a snack to share on a rainy day or to nurse a hangover with.


Garlic To The Chicken

A Ridgewood Korean fried chicken joint with tons of sauce options, dumplings and other fun finger foods.

 66-92 Forest Ave, Ridgewood (off the Forest Avenue stop of the M train)

 Tues-Sat: 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sun: 2p.m. – 10 p.m.

 +1 347 – 689 – 2670

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