Restaurant Review: Chick’n Bubbly

My buddy Katz and I started playing a weekly racquetball game after work a few months back. After one of our first games, he invited me to join him for dinner at Oishii Bento, a Korean restaurant on campus which I’d never been to before. At his recommendation, I got the Galbi Bento (beef short ribs). While they were quite good, at $13 with tax I wasn’t thrilled with the value of the relatively small portion.

Still, I’ve been looking forward to the debut of their sister restaurant, a Korean fried chicken joint called Chick’n Bubbly, which just opened right next door. When I heard they were rolling out a soft opening, I suggested to Katz that we go there for dinner after our game this week. We ended up not playing (Pitt is really, really bad about advertising when the gyms are closed) but we stuck to the plan anyway.

chickn-bubbly-oakland-pittsburgh

During the soft opening – the grand opening won’t happen until the first day of fall semester, which is a smart move on their part – they’re only serving wings and bubble tea. The drumsticks, sides, and other drinks on the full menu aren’t yet available. That was fine with us, since we planned to split a medium (20 piece) order of wings. At around $20 with tax, it’s not the best value, but it’s not bad. The two sauce options offered, soy garlic and sweet and spicy, both sounded good to us, and we ultimately opted for the former.

The space is a converted nail salon, so there’s not much room for seating – only a couple of small tables. The digital menu boards are bright, colorful, and easy to read, and it’s an open kitchen, which is always nice to see. Fortunately, there wasn’t a crowd. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate to quick service, as we had about a 15 minute wait. Not being in any particular hurry, this didn’t bother me too much, and in the second week of a soft opening, I don’t hold it against them. It’s something they’ll need to improve upon before the full opening, of course, but that’s ostensibly what this trial run is for.

When the food did arrive, Katz and I eagerly dug in. The wings themselves were quality – large, meaty, and moist – and the tempura batter was quite pleasant. The sauce, however, needed some work. While the menu does say that you can request added heat, we both expected the sauce to have more of a kick than it did. There were hints of garlic, but the flavor profile was overwhelmingly sweet. Ultimately, I took some of my wings home and added sriracha to them, which definitely balanced things out and made the wings tastier. I would suggest that bottles of sriracha be made available so that guests can adjust the sauces to their desired level of spice. One other minor gripe – during the bus ride home, the bottom of my box sprung a relatively large leak. The boxes themselves are attractive, but structural integrity may be an issue. I should probably have asked for a bag.

On the whole, while there are some kinks to be worked out, the experience was a positive one, and seeing as how I’ll be getting dinner on campus before my two night classes every week, I definitely plan to return in the near future to try the other sauce. I’ll make sure to ask them to kick it up a notch, just to be safe.

Rating: 7/10

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