Mid-last week, Mark was away in Northern Alberta on a work trip (what engineers call “going out on the field”), so I was basically left unchecked, which only means one thing: nobody around to shut down my non-healthy eating tendencies. Our running joke is that I’ll end up eating popcorn for dinner every night (partly true) whenever he’s gone. I take the opportunities to have weird meals, like pancakes for dinner, because I tend to be really lazy when there’s nobody else to cook for. I’m also easy to please, so long as whatever I’m eating takes minimal effort to put together (eg. open bag of popcorn chips. Eat).
So it’s no surprise that I ended up at Olive Chicken one evening with my parents, which was actually an impromptu meeting. I was out shopping at the Korean market where my mom works and she mentioned her craving for Patbingsu (팥빙수), a popular and well-known Korean shaved ice dessert that’s eaten primarily in the summer. She’d recently tried it at Olive Chicken and said it was delicious. I didn’t have any dinner plans, so I suggested we meet up at the end of her shift at Olive Chicken. I was actually curious to try their Patbingsu, mostly because it’s not easy to find this dessert in Calgary. Plus, Mark loves himself some Patbingsu, so if I could somehow find a decent version, that means I could drag him out to partake in these sinfully sweet delights with no regard to calorie intake. Heh.
Olive Chicken has been around for a few years (I think) and their primary selling point is delicious, Korean-style fried chicken cooked in olive oil. I don’t know how they do it, seeing as olive oil isn’t a great deep-frying oil choice given its low smoke point, but I guess they’ve figured out a technique. I’ve already made it clear that I love fried chicken, so it probably comes as a surprise that I’ve passed by Olive Chicken numerous times without ever stepping foot in the store. It’s either because we’re on a healthy eating kick with no room for compromise or special treats, or we’re dining a few doors down at Korean Village. Well, I suppose the stars aligned and fate lead me to finally try out what this olive-oil fried chicken was all about.
The interior is very sparse, with just a few tables lining the outer walls. It feels like a homey, down-to-earth Korean take-out joint, which I think is what Olive Chicken primarily does (there were a few parties that came for take-out while we were dining). The aroma of fried chicken was pleasant, without that stale, deep fryer oil smell.
We went there for the Patbingsu, but ended up wanting to try some chicken. To leave sufficient room for dessert, we ordered the Olive Special #1 to share – 3 pieces of chicken with fries and a drink.
Since their chicken is freshly fried, it took about 10 minutes for our order to come out. We actually ended up with a bonus piece of chicken, which we couldn’t complain about (who in their right mind ever complains, “hey! This combo said 3 pieces, not 4! This is an outrage!”). The fries were hot and crisp, but I wish they’d been salted – there was no seasoning on them at all. Oh well, nothing that a bit of ketchup couldn’t fix.
The verdict on this chicken? Hot, crispy, moist, tender, and well-seasoned. A winner for sure! While delicious, I wished that it were a bit crispier, although the batter was light and not overwhelming.
After we devoured our chicken meal, it was time to dig into our Patbingsu. Two large bowls appeared, with a couple of containers of extra sweetened azuki beans. I remember eating these during my childhood in Korea and it always felt like a special treat. Modern versions of this vary widely in toppings, with the most traditional version only having the azuki beans over the shaved ice. Olive Chicken’s version came with sweetened condensed milk, soybean powder, fruit cocktail, mini tteok (rice cake), and vanilla ice cream, all topped with chocolate syrup. This is one of the best ways to enjoy dessert and cool down at the same time. By the time I’d gotten near to the bottom of the bowl, I was starting to shiver from eating all the cold goodness. My favourite part is the mini tteok, which provides a nice, chewy texture contrast to the smooth ice milk mixture. It’s sweet, nutty, and tart all at the same time. Olive Chicken’s Patbingsu is definitely delicious, albeit quite a portion for one person to finish.
Patbingsu (or ‘bingsu, for short) is typically only served from May to September, but I’m hoping it’s not a limited-time only deal at Olive Chicken. I’d definitely go back for some more of that, and although I prefer Yum Yum Chicken’s KFC, this is an excellent close-to-home choice for those times I’m having a major KFC craving that must be satisfied ASAP. Or the times when Mark is back out on the field and I’m free to eat whatever I choose… heh.
1324 10 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T3C0J2
Phone: (403) 457-4649