3.115 General Chicken


29 (Sun) April 2012

General Chicken


at Jackie’s Kitchen (Coex Mall)

-Samseong, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with DJ and his friends

General Tso’s Chicken is an American-Chinese dish.  Deep-fried chunks of chicken in a sweet soy glaze, usually with broccoli.  Invented, or at least named as such and popularized, by Chinese restaurants in the United States sometime during the late 20th century.  Often categorized as Hunanese in style, probably because the restaurants that introduced the dish claimed to be Hunanese, even though traditional cuisine in Hunan doesn’t have the dish or any dish along similar lines.  The name of the dish is most commonly attributed to a 19th century general and statesman named Zuo Zongtang from Hunan, the “Tso = Zuo” based on an older transliteration system, even though no records show a connection between the man and the dish or any dish.

At Jackie’s Kitchen, what would appear to be the same dish, sans broccoli, is called “General Chicken.”  Seems an odd menu item for a dim sum and noodle shop.  Whatever its origins, whatever it’s called, it was good.  The kids loved it.  Pricey at 13,000 won for a tiny serving.

The decision to order the dish represented the convergence of 4 totally unrelated factors: (1) DJ’s current favorite movie is The Karate Kid, the new version starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, so he was all excited to eat at “Mr. Han’s restaurant” following a playdate/fieldtrip with his friends to the Coex Mall Aquarium in the same complex; (2) for the kids, the menu was severely limited to a handful of items that were fork-accessible and non-spicy; (3) given those criteria, the server recommended “General Chicken,” which reminded me that reader Seoul Food had recently mentioned General Tso’s Chicken – specifically, as an example of American-style Chinese food (see comments under 3.104 Stir Fried Duck Rice Noodle); and (4) in light of a concurrent discussion (found in the comments under the same post) between reader DC and me about how this blog chooses to use the name of the dish as used by the restaurant on its menu, even if the dish may be known by a different name by different people in different places, this apparent appellative aberration was too good an opportunity to pass.

(For more details re food, see WHAT)

(For more details re venue, see WHERE IN KOREA)

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