Korea's Favorite Chicken Chain Invades, Bubble-Tea War Is Brewing

Chicken nuggets and tapioca pearls, finally together in one place.Photo: Daniel Maurer

Koreas largest fast-food chain, BBQ Chicken, which has 2,500 stores there (a 20 percent market share) and is apparently on a mission to overtake McDonalds in worldwide ubiquity by the year 2020, is hitting St. Marks Place this Friday and opening three other stores in the city two on Northern Boulevard (at 150 Place and 147th Street) and one on Seventh Avenue near FIT According to Andy Pan, franchiser of the St. Marks location, the stores employees have been thoroughly trained in the craft of frying drumsticks, teriyaki sticks, chicken nuggets, and the like in olive oil, the companys trademark. We sent each manager back to Korea to the Chicken University to get educated. Thats right BBQ has a Chicken University.

Not only this, but BBQ shares a building with Tkettle, a bubble-tea chain also omnipresent in Asia and which Pan says has a few advantages over Saints Alp, the bubble-tea spot over on Third Avenue. Throwing down the glove in much the same way Setagayas GM went after Momofuku, Pan told us that his teas are better than most because instead of mixing hot tea with ice, which causes the tea to become watered down, Tkettle cools its tea over the course of seven hours. Plus they cook their tapioca every two hours rather than just using a mornings supply throughout the day, which makes them very chewy and fresh.

Related: Birds of a Feather [NYM]