Korean-style fried chicken is often abbreviated to KFC but Pelicana Fried Chicken genuinely is the KFC of Korea. It's the oldest and largest chain in the country, having launched in 1982 and now boasting 2000 stores nationally and 3000 globally. Yet somehow, its first Australian outlet has managed to fly into Melbourne undetected.
The flagship store opened on Franklin Street in the CBD on February 15, and right now is staffed by chefs from Korean HQ. They're turning out all of the brand's 11 flavours of bone-in or boneless RSPCA-approved chicken, which is marinated for 12 hours before being battered, fried and finished with seasonings ranging from wasabi-dust to garlic sauce chicken and the signature Pelicana, its top secret spicy, sweet and savoury glaze. Sides include chewy, saucy rice cakes (tteok bokki), loaded fries, burgers and kimchi soups.
The store seats 40, inside and out, and an approved liquor licence means Mountain Goat on tap, soju drinks and raspberry wine will join the Korean soft drinks come April. Its main push, however, is delivery.
It's difficult to confirm Pelicana's claim that its founder invented the entire style of fried chicken, but when it launched in Manhattan, Eater rated it among the city's best purveyors of KFC. Get it while it's hot and queue-free.
Pelicana Fried Chicken is open daily 11am-11pm, Shop 5/163 Franklin Street, CBD, Melbourne, 0433 816 683.