“In Louisiana, one of the five stages of grief is eating your weight in fried chicken.” ~ Ken Wheaton
Not many people know this, but the history of fried chicken dates back beyond antiquity into the realm of Greek mythology. The story goes that Apollo, coming down off the tail-end of an epic wine bender, accidentally invented the dish during a drunken cooking competition with Ares, who had been loudly proclaiming all weekend that he could “cook all you noobs under the goddamn table.” People were starting to leave and even Hades agreed that Ares was being “a bit more of a dick than usual”, so Apollo set about creating something unforgettably tasty for gods and humans alike.
Presiding over the competition, Athena deemed Apollo’s chicken as the victor and the party raged on. However, fearing the flawed nature of man, Zeus took the recipe and hid it in the fires of Mount Olympus where it would be safe and uncorrupted. Apollo was too high to remember the ingredients, so the recipe was lost for thousands of years until a young Colonel Sanders stole it on a dare for a mate who was “having mad cravings for something crispy and salty.”
This is also why the Spanish word for chicken is “pollo”, after Apollo.
Ok, so none of this happened, but at least we can all agree that fried chicken is really great. Right? Food of the gods, or something.
Gami Chicken & Beer has been succeeding quietly for a few years now, with its succulent piles of chicken attracting droves of enthusiastic diners to each of its four locations around Melbourne. It makes perfect sense, really, when you consider the influx of American cuisine to a local scene blossoming with a new and welcome breed of Korean restaurants. When you add in convenient takeaway and home delivery (GASP!), it’s a perfect storm for success.
This might also have something to do with the fact that I found myself eating there twice in one week.
In short, Gami fries a great chicken. The simple menu offers the choice of regular or boneless chicken, four different flavour options and a tidy selection of side dishes and alcoholic beverages.
…aaaaaand the Soy Garlic flavour option (pictured above) is the kind of thing that tastes so good you see people making that near-orgasm face when it first hits their palate. This was recommended by a friend as the best of the sauce-quartet and I have to say it’s a position I emphatically endorse; the sticky sauce coating clings to the chicken without compromising the crispness of the coating beneath, causing everything to gel into a holy harmony of salt, texture and sweetness.
If you’re in the mood for sides, there’s also the evocatively named Corn Cheese: a seductive skillet of buttery corn, mozzarella, mayo and a sprinkling of herbs that bears a passing resemblance to the classic mac and cheese. Basically the kind of dish I want to shrink myself down for, construct a rudimentary diving board and just dive into that thing like the dude from Assassin’s Creed.
Simplicity aside, it’s a dish that gives an interesting insight into the evolution of post-war Korean food and an exciting taste of a cuisine that a lot of people aren’t especially intimate with.
Of course, a trip to Gami wouldn’t be complete for me without a bottle of Maehwasu; a cheeky little plum liquor that looks cute from the outside but actually has an alcohol content to be reckoned with. It’s really heartening to see the Korean and Japanese tastes for plum popping up here at home.
Gami is well worth a visit if you’re after something that is both new and familiar at once. Maybe they’ve got a little bit of Olympus fire hidden away at the back of the kitchen, or maybe they just know how to make damn fine KFC.
Whatever the case, you should let the chicken seduce you.