KFC may be increasingly meaning Korean, not Kentucky, Fried Chicken, going by the number of new franchises that are moving out of Seoul to our shores, such as Bonchon Chicken, Kko Kko Nara, 4Fingers Crispy Chicken and Woori Nara. Say annyeong (hello) to the latest addition, NeNe Chicken.
The store at the newly opened The Star Vista shopping mall at Buona Vista is the first outside of Korea, which already has about 1,000 outlets.
The name’s simple to remember, if somewhat naughty to say in polite company, as it refers crudely to breasts in Hokkien. While you might think it means chicken breast meat is cooked here, in Korean, “NeNe” actually means “Yes! Yes!”
You’re probably dragging a load of guilt as you walk into the cosy 17-seater decked in wooden tables, benches and classic black chairs, but take a chance on the succulent crispy goodies here, and you’ll find they’re worth every extra minute sweating it out on the treadmill.
Rodney Tang, 41, owner of NeNe Chicken Singapore, tells UrbanWire, “When I first got to know of NeNe Chicken, we started thinking about how we were going to differentiate the dining experience, [the] buying experience that customers have from us.”
Customers who do not like the hassle of dirtying their hands can rejoice. Unlike most fast food restaurants, NeNe Chicken provides customers with plastic gloves to aid in the feasting. A very neat idea that makes the experience unique. Though we at UrbanWire would rather just get our hands dirty.
Fans of T-ara and Yoo Jae-suk, aka the “grasshopper” in the popular variety show, Running Man, will be pleased to know that advertisements featuring them are screened just outside at the shop- a real treat before you tuck into your juicy piece of meat.
What’s on the menu couldn’t be simpler- fried chicken and more fried chicken. But rest assured, the 7 different flavours are sure to get your mouth salivating.
The self-explanatory Snowing Cheese Tender Boneless comprises of powdered parmesan-like cheese dusted over a mixture of chunky pieces of boneless chicken. The beauty of this is that you just keep popping them in your mouth and, truth be told, it’s pretty hard to stop once you start. The batter coating isn’t too thick and the powder doesn’t stifle the flavour of the chicken. Perfect for those who aren’t fans of strong cheese.
Contrary to its name, the Swicy chicken has more flavour than spice. Tender and coated generously with a thick sticky sauce, the chicken tastes similar to sweet and sour pork without the tangy aftertaste.
Despite being drenched in a sticky devilish red sauce, an audible “crunch” can still be heard as you bite into it. A choice dish for getting your hands dirty, although you’ll be licking up the excess divine sauce just like how you wouldn’t want to waste the precious hollandaise sauce on your poached eggs.
UrbanWire’s favourite is the Green Onion Chick Tender Boneless. The moist pieces of meat are coated in a soy mustard sauce, topped with a fist full of spring onions that goes well with the meat.
Mustard may seem too overpowering for a chicken dish, but the light brown sauce due to the soy sauce content, is milder that you think and complements the fried chicken.
The Freaking Hot Chicken is just like a rollercoaster ride. As the name suggests, only the adventurous should try it, given the intensity of the spice.
It starts slow, with the spice at ‘mild’ gear like a nice pot of curry. Just when you’ve settled into the dish, the intensity increases, and a fire explodes at the back of your throat. Be careful not to choke while swallowing, and have several glasses of water on standby. You’ve been warned.
If you’re looking for something light to snack on, NeNe POP (you’re probably sniggering at the name) is a delectable Korean rendition of popcorn chicken. The packaging is simple but brilliant- popcorn chicken and little hash brown balls in a container that fits snugly above the cup with the drink.
Though varied, the dishes share one trait: the meat is moist inside, as if it were steamed but crispy on the outside. Cliched as it sounds, the meat manages to retain all its juicy goodness without tasting oily.
The 3 sides on the menu however, are seemingly ordinary: Corn Salad, Coleslaw and Pickled Radish. But one standout is the Pickled Radish, mostly because it’s more often found in a Korean or Japanese restaurant than a fried chicken eatery. Its crunchy white radish cubes burst when bitten into, and the tinge of sourness from the vinegar adds a kick to this tasty side. An effective way to cleanse your palate, in between your pigging out on the different flavours of chicken, that will let you better savour what you eat .
“If I had to order for my friends, I would buy them a Freaking Hot,” reveals the boss. “But personally, if I had to order for my own consumption, I would go for Swicy. Something more common.”
Not that you’ll be dragging pals here for a get-together anytime soon. The benches and small tables can only accommodate fewer than 20. The cute graphics on the walls depicting a vegetable shop are frankly incongruent with a chicken outlet, but make the place feel cheery and welcoming especially to students.
Given the limited space in the outlet (their focus is on delivery service, after all), we suggest ordering a takeaway and snacking on it over some episodes of Running Man at home instead.
NeNe Chicken is located at 1 Vista Green Exchange, Star Vista, #01-24.
Opening Hours: 11am- 10pm daily.
For a full listing of the menu and prices, click here.
Price range for a regular meal for 1: $7.90- $9.90 (comes with a side and a drink)
Delivery Number: (65) 6222 6363 (Only at selected districts)