Last year, Dak & Bop brought Korean fried chicken (dak) and rice (bop) to Timbergrove. Driving by recently, in the mood for something different, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
It’s in an old pizza parlor, Hut or Inn, not sure which. So, anything could have been inside those tinted windows.
On the other side of the door, I was immediately impressed. This is no bare bones walk-up. Dak & Bop is a sleekly appointed full-service restaurant. Cloth napkins; good flatware. And a bar!
The bar is where I sat to enjoy my feast. It began with a well mixed Deep Eddy Lemon and Cranberry, but more about Dak & Bop’s specialty cocktails later.
Scanning the touch-less menu was painless. Just point your smartphone camera to a QR code and tap a link to read the menu. Some lament this Covid concession, but I admire its efficiency.
Among the starters that caught my eye was a kimchi bisque. I love the faintly sweet, yeasty, spicy flavors of kimchi, and I wondered how they would work in a tomato-based broth. Superbly, as it turns out.
Each taste of this soup was like a salpuri, a Korean spirit cleansing dance. I’m sure the dance will play on with the Seoul Fries with gochujang, or the — yes! — poutine, starters I want to come back for.
I just knew the Korean fried chicken would be the star of the show, possibly because I’d never had it before. According to Dak & Bop’s website, “Our chicken is fried twice and made to order. Fresh, not frozen, we butcher our pieces in house to ensure you get the freshest and meatiest chicken possible!”
So far, so good. I can vouch for all that.
After frying, what distinguishes Korean fried chicken is its finishing glaze. It supposedly adds flavor and varying levels of spice to the breading. (A moist towelette is thoughtfully included.) There’s a choice of sauces, from mild to hot: soy garlic, sriracha honey lime, medium, hot.
The crunch was pure joy to bite into. The actual eating, less so. The meat was bland, and the sauces didn’t add much oomph. I ordered the milder two glazes, so my advice to you would be to go spicy or go home! (And chef, try a saltwater brine. Even half an hour would make all the difference.)
Redemption came in the form of kimchi fried rice — excellent — and that sublime specialty cocktail.
Soju is Korea’s national spirit, so I tried a concoction called Honeymoon in Jeju. Featuring green grape soju, strawberry liqueur, St. Germain and prosecco, it was a burst of sunshine on this cloudy day. Truly, one of the most refreshing cocktails I’ve had in a long time.
I’m intrigued by the rest of Dak & Bop’s menu. There’s a burger and sandwiches, such Mama M’s Eggplant Parm Sandwich, that sound weirdly wonderful. And bulgogi (beef), pork belly or Korean curry bowls. I’m coming back for those, too!
Dak & Bop
1805 West 18th Street, Houston, TX 77008