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

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


Korea’s 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 McDonald’s 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 store’s employees have been thoroughly trained in the craft of frying drumsticks, teriyaki sticks, chicken nuggets, and the like in olive oil, the company’s trademark. “We sent each manager back to Korea to the Chicken University to get educated.” That’s 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 Saint’s Alp, the bubble-tea spot over on Third Avenue. Throwing down the glove in much the same way Setagaya’s 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 morning’s supply throughout the day, which makes them “very chewy and fresh.”

Related: Birds of a Feather [NYM]