Some people believe fried chicken is the quintessential Southern meal, but fried chicken is far more global.
In the 1970s, KFC launched a marketing campaign to sway the Japanese to eat fried chicken during Christmas, a holiday most of the country doesn’t celebrate. It became a tradition, and fried chicken took off in Japan.
When Grace Yang and her husband, Hyun Choi, decided to open their own Japanese-style fried chicken shop in Gainesville, they wanted to separate themselves from the fast food version.
Originally from Korea (which has its own fried chicken obsession), Yang and Choi met when they were doctoral students in Japan. To make extra money, Choi took a job as a part-time chef and learned how a professional kitchen works. Yang lived in Nagoya for over 10 years and became increasingly knowledgeable about the local cuisine. They combined their skills to open Chicken Ten & Four. (Remove the ampersand and “ten four” translates to “chicken store” in Japanese.)
Tebasaki, a popular fried chicken dish originating in Nagoya, is usually compared to American chicken wings. The bone-in wing is dredged very lightly in potato starch before it’s fried until crispy and finished with a soy-based sauce enhanced with garlic, ginger and onion to create a sweeter flavor.
“We don’t add sugar,” says Yang. “We add extra onions to give it the sweetness. We try to keep the food as healthy as possible.”
There’s also popular Japanese dishes like chicken candy, which is bone-in chicken thighs coated in a sweet, mild or spicy sauce made up of garlic and olive oil. Also on the menu is karaage, which is similar to tebasaki in preparation but has no bones and is served without the sticky-sweet soy glaze. It’s also served on a bun, dubbed the karaage burger.
Other menu items include donburi, a combination of meat and vegetables served over rice; a karaage sushi roll; and bubble tea.
“Every family in Nagoya has their own recipe for karaage and tebasaki,” says Yang. “We just want to share ours.”
To celebrate the grand opening, Chicken Ten & Four is offering 20 percent off select daily items until July 30. // Chicken Ten & Four: 7929 Heritage Village Plaza, Gainesville