Tiba Chicken serving up some good fried chicken in Korea

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Tiba Chicken serving up some good fried chicken in Korea

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

What originally started as a small joint serving up some good fried chicken in Busan, is now a full-fledged chain of 300 restaurants across South Korea.

Tiba Chicken is known for its mouth-watering Korean-style fried chicken, which garnered fame through BOGOF (buy one get one free) deals it started pushing during the economic downturn in the early 2000s.

Stop in at this popular spot inside Pyongtaek International Central Market down the street from Osan Air Base’s main gate for a wide variety of Korean inspired chicken dishes that are bound to tantalize your taste buds.

What makes Tiba unique is that each shop operates independently. Each Tiba chicken chain has their own price policy, special menu and even offers a different flavor profile for the way they spice their chicken.

When I arrived at this chicken joint, I thought it was closed because the interior lights are a little dark. Don’t let this prevent you from heading inside, owners Ahn In-teak and his wife intentionally maintain the old signage and the interior lighting that way. 


Garlic & Soy Chicken

“I used to think about remodeling the restaurant so it looked fancy like other nearby stores, but I decided to retain this place just as it is,” Ahn said. “I just want to make customers feel comfortable, as if they’re being in an old chicken joint in your neighborhood in the States.”

His wife, Jeong Sun-hui, usually spends over three hours every morning before opening cutting the chicken and trimming the fat and skin for a healthier cut unlike other fried chicken shops.

“We do not use imported frozen chicken. Instead, we receive domestic raw chicken that has no foul odor as needed three times a week from our provider,” Jeong explained.

They offer options of bone-in or boneless chicken and three flavor options: Crispy, Sweet & Spicy, Garlic & Soy. You can choose from a set of 14 or 22 pieces of chicken and you can also mix and match your choice of flavors. Boneless Sweet & Spicy and Garlic & Soy chicken are the most popular items on the menu, as is the new hot pepper flavor.

They also have other variations, from sweet curry chicken to hot barbeque, but they are determined to ‘keep it simple’ and focus on serving the best fried chicken. So, customers won’t find any fancy side dishes other than steamed rice to go with the staple offering.


Sweet & Spicy

During my visit, my friends and I went for Set #2 (about $21), which includes their signature Garlic & Soy Chicken and Crispy Fried Chicken. In less than 10 minutes, our fresh, piping-hot and delicious-smelling chicken arrived at our table.

At first glance, the Garlic & Soy Chicken looked bland despite the heavenly scent. The taste of the savory chicken was not overwhelmingly salty and well-seasoned with soy sauce producing a light sweetness and umami combination.

Tiba’s crispy chicken had a thin coating but great crunch. The oil used to fry this chicken was well-strained because it maintained its crispness and didn’t leave my fingers greasy.

If you’re planning to visit, consider getting your meal to-go as this is the preferred option at the tiny spot. I decided to take out a separate order of Sweet & Spicy and Grilled Barbecue Chicken home for my family. Even though the food was cold by the time I got home, the flavor was delicious. The thin glaze on the sweet and spicy chicken was a little nutty and mouth-watering.

For an exclusive taste only available at this location, do try the Grilled Barbecue Chicken as you cannot get it at any of the other Tiba Chicken locations. What I loved about it was both the outside and inside were really soft and juicy!

Make this a must-stop next time you’re in the area. You and your family will enjoy the great deals, tasty chicken and see why a small chicken stand has grown to 300 chain stores across the peninsula.

kim.chihon@stripes.com

Tiba chicken


Location: 301-9 Sinjang-dong, Pyeongtaek-si, Gyeonggi-do
Hours: Week days 11 a.m. to midnight., Weekend 11 a.m. to 5 a.m., Closed on Mondays except when it’s an American holiday)
Phone: 031-668-2992
* Each order includes one free drink.

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