"Some places have a very thin, crisp skin; some places have more garlicky, sticky sauces; some advertise that they are healthy because they fry in 100 percent olive oil," said Mr. McPherson, an English teacher, who writes a food blog called zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal.
"Suddenly there will be a long line outside one chicken place, for no apparent reason, and then the next week, it's somewhere else."
Even Korea's corner bars and fast-food chicken chains are preoccupied with the quality, freshness and integrity of their product.
With Korean-style chicken outlets opening recently in New York, New Jersey and California, fried chicken has begun to complete its round-trip flight from the States to Seoul.
"I really think we make it better than the original," said Young Jin, who opened a friendly little chicken joint called Unidentified Flying Chickens in Jackson Heights last month. "We use fresh, not frozen, chicken, always fried to order, no trans fats, no heat lamps."
In Korea, chickens are much smaller, so the whole chicken is fried and served, hacked up into bite-size pieces. But the large breasts and thighs of American chickens are a challenge to cook evenly.
According to Mr. Jin and others, that's why the Korean-style chicken places here serve mostly wings (true connoisseurs can specify either the upper "arm" or the "wing") and small drumsticks. The chicken is typically seasoned only after it is fried, with either a sweetish garlic-soy glaze or a hotter red-pepper sauce that brings the dish into Buffalo wing territory.
But do not look for blue cheese and celery sticks, or even biscuits and gravy. The typical accompaniment to Korean fried chicken is cubes of pickled radish and plenty of beer or soju; the combination produces an irresistible repetition of salt and spice, cold and hot, briny and sweet, crunchy and tender.
"People — even Americans — say the combination is really addictive," said Ryan Jhun, Mr. Chung’s brother-in-law and business partner.
Yeah, no sh*t! Now you'll excuse me. I've got to see if this damn town has a Korean restaurant.