ChimaeK, a Korean portmanteau of chicken and beer in reference to the pair, became so widely known that the term was registered in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2021. The “chicken” in chimaek is not any ordinary chicken, but refers to Korean-style chicken in particular. Read on to find all you need to know about chimaek!
Chimaek is an excellent food partner when it comes to watching movies or sports events at home. It’s also most often enjoyed outdoors at a picnic outing, the beach, and even at baseball stadiums. Here are some of the best places where you can chill and enjoy chimaek.
One of most local experience you can have in Korea is probably enjoying chicken and beer by the Hangang River. The Hangang River flows through the center of Seoul with parks dotted along the way, serving as a refreshing recreational space for the public community. The parks by the Hangang River are definitely one of the most favorite chimaek places. Visit one of the parks on any day and you’ll likely see people picnicking by the area.
Among the many parks, we recommend Yeouido Hangang Park and Banpo Hangang Park. In particular, Banpo Hangang Park has already gained some fame among BTS fans as the place where BTS members ordered pizza and chicken during their filming of "BTS’ Life in Seoul." To enjoy chimaek at the outdoor parks, you can either make a take-out order at a chicken place near the park or order delivery.
Another place where you will easily find people enjoying chicken and beer is the baseball stadium. Even if you are not a baseball fan, being a part of the cheering crowd and their enthusiastic energy is quite entertaining with chimaek as an added bonus. All the major baseball stadiums across the country sell chicken and beer. Korea’s baseball season runs annually from spring to fall.
Chimaek and beaches are another perfect combination. A bite of crispy fried chicken and a sip of refreshing beer by the beach will wash away all your worries. The beach shore becomes a popular picnic spot especially in summer evenings. With most major chicken franchises lined along the beach road, you have many options to choose from. If you don’t want to leave the beach, request for delivery service to have your chicken and beer delivered to where you are. Of course, enjoying chimaek while appreciating the ocean view from an outdoor table at a beachside chicken restaurant is another great option.
Chicken franchises are great, but if you are willing to broaden your experience in the world of Korean chicken, we recommend visiting these “chicken streets” for an extra special taste that incorporate regional identity.
If you are visiting Suwon to see the UNESCO World Heritage Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, make sure to stop by Suwon Chicken Street while you’re in the city. The street is lined with over ten restaurants that specialize in Suwon-style chicken. Some restaurants have been here since the 1970s, selling chicken fried in a large cauldron the traditional way. The Suwon Chicken Street is famous for their Korean-style marinated chicken known as the “Suwon wanggalbi chicken.”
The coastal city of Sokcho along the Eastern Sea is not only popular as a beach attraction, but also for its dak gangjeong (deep-fried and braised chicken). Dak gangjeong is cooked using bite-sized chicken pieces fried and braised in a sweet and sour sauce. At a glance, it looks similar to yangnyeom chicken (seasoned chicken), but it slightly differs both in flavor and texture. As securing a seat at the marketplace table is challenging, we recommend ordering as take-out and enjoying the meal elsewhere.
Dak ttongjip is a Korean slang word that refers to chicken gizzards. In Daegu, there is a street lined with restaurants that specialize in this unique food item. Just like any other chicken dish, chicken gizzards are available either fried or braised in sauce. Although the menu can be quite uncomfortable if you’ve never had chicken gizzards, we recommend giving it a shot. Chicken gizzards have a chewy texture that set them apart from other chicken meat. Regular fried chicken is also available on the menu for those who prefer to settle for something familiar.
Chimaek festivals – the name says it all. Koreans love the chicken and beer combo so much, there are festivals dedicated to chimaek. Enjoy music, chicken, beer, and everything else the festivals have to offer!
Daegu Chimac Festival is the most famous chimaek festival in Korea that takes place every July. Almost all the popular chicken franchises participate in the event, giving the opportunity to try different kinds of chicken all in one place.
In Korea, where you find beer, it’s very likely that you’ll also find fried chicken. Although Songdo Beer Festival is dedicated to promoting beers from around the world, food items that make a great pair with beer are also available, including chicken. The festival usually takes place in late August.
The reason behind the worldwide recognition of chimaek is largely due to the hallyu trend. After making an appearance in the hit drama “My Love from the Star (2013),” chimaek continued to show up in other popular dramas like “Crash Landing on You (2019),” as well as other television shows. Moreover, influential K-pop stars also mentioned chimaek numerous times in their shows, including BTS, who even cooked their own fried chicken for their chimaek meal in an episode of “BTS in the SOOP (2020).”
* This column was last updated in October 2022, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.