Is there such a thing as too many Korean chicken spots in New York City? Never–especially if it’s as delicious as the crispy juicy wings being served up at Kiyoung Lee and partner Jeremy Seong’s newest Turntable restaurant. Each of Lee’s establishments are centered around his first passion, music. With other locations called Turntable Chicken Jazz and Turntable LP Bar & Karaoke, this latest endeavor is an ode to, you guessed it, rock ‘n’ roll!
It’s a surprisingly large space for it’s modest facade. With high ceilings, a chic industrial edge, and patio-styled furniture, the ambiance is casual and comfortable. Owner Kiyoung Lee, who has a background in architecture, impressively designed the unique design himself. The walls are covered in rock memorabilia, many signed by music legends, and the lighting resembles true daylight so it feels like you are in an open-air Brooklyn beer garden, not on Fifth Avenue. The service is friendly and knowledgeable, but don’t expect frills. There is no table service and the food is served on disposable plates, but boy is it china worthy!
Executive Chef David Kwon brings his experience in fine dining to create simple, but exceptional, fare. We started off with three of their summer salads: watermelon, smoked salmon, and fried calamari. The seasonal fresh watermelon salad made up of arugula, feta, mint and a champagne vinaigrette was perfect for this year’s August heat wave; and the spicy fried calamari with an air crispy batter (unlike any I’ve had before–in a good way!) had just the right amount of heat, cut with a sweet mayo sauce.
The two standout dishes from the second course of our tasting were the Kimchi Fries and Korean Fried Chicken. To be honest, I’m hands-down a buffalo-styled chicken wing girl, but these Turntable wings may have proven me wrong. Lightly tossed in a flavorful soy-garlic sauce, the three distinct layers of texture in each bite were outstanding. Satisfyingly crispy on the outside, followed by a thin layer of soft warm batter, ending with piping hot juicy chicken. How did Chef Kown cook these wings so perfectly? I wish I knew his secret.
Also, I would recommend their Korean-inspired version of loaded fries topped with sauteed kimchi, applewood bacon, jalapenos, and honey sour cream. This would be a great item to share and pairs nicely with one of their innovative “bottoms up” draft beers–which is exactly what it sounds like. The beer pours from the bottom of the cup up to the top; there’s a hole in the bottom of the glass that’s covered with a reusable magnet once the glass is full.
Turntable Rock’s menu also features crispy popcorn chicken, veggie or pork fried dumplings, fried oysters topped with bonito flakes, shishito peppers, pepperoni hot dogs, Angus beef sliders and bulgogi beef brisket tacos. There’s only one dessert on the menu and it’s not to be missed if you have the room. The crispy injelomi–think Korean churros–are warm, cinnamon-covered, chewy, doughy sticks of goodness.
Photos by Sha Savage
Top: Korean fried chicken
290 5th Avenue, New York, NY