dak & bop

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BY MIKE PUCKETT

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Dak & Bop is located just blocks from downtown on Binz between Chartres St. and Chenevert St. With the Museum District, Herman Park and a number of other Houston attractions right around the corner, Dak & Bop is the perfect place to eat while experiencing Houston.

They have an extremely hip décor at Dak & Bop with plenty of seating options to choose from. You can grab a quick bite with craft beers and cocktails at the bar, savor a meal in the dining area with friends or family or even enjoy the day out on the patio… depending on the time of year, of course. Ha! You are in Houston.

At Dak & Bop, Korean Fried Chicken is the specialty, but that is just a piece of the puzzle. Everything on the menu is special. The Asian and Mexican Fusion is such a cool culinary exploration. There is something for everyone here.

I have to start off by admitting that chicken wings are one of my VERY favorite meals. If it were up to me, I would eat them at least once a week! I like wings fried, baked, grilled, smoked, breaded, naked, wet, dry, spicy, sweet, savory, creamy, hot, cold and dipped in all kinds of different sauces. So, when I heard about this Korean Fried Chicken spot downtown… let’s just say I couldn’t get there quick enough!

There’s no need to be nervous when experiencing Korean Fried Chicken for the first time. The process is simple and explained on a large sign by the bar.

  • Step 1 – choose between wings, strips, drums or a combo of all three.
  • Step 2 – choose your sauce: spicy garlic, hot and spicy or half & half. There’s also a soy garlic-option which is pretty mild.
  • Step 3 – wash it all down with a craft beer or cocktail of your choice from their wonderful selection.

It is that easy!

I recommend you order the Korean Fried Chicken for sure.  One thing to note – everything is cooked to order and the chicken is twice-fried. This produces a hot, crispy and juicy bird, but you can expect the process to take about 30 minutes. It’s well worth the wait… trust me!

Having had all kinds of great feedback about Dak & Bop, we showed up there with the highest of expectations.

It is a good thing I brought some of my foodie friends with me. We had 4 people, and I still didn’t get to try everything I wanted to. When you get a chance, check out this menu and you will see exactly what I mean.

Come to find out, the owners and I grew up in the same area so they got bonus points right off the bat!

So, we posted up at the bar to let the experience begin.

Of course, I ordered a couple of my favorite Top Texas Craft Beers; Lone Pint Yellow Rose IPA brewed in Magnolia, Texas and Houston’s own 8th Wonder Rocket Fuel.

I am an IPA guy, so Yellow Rose is a go-to for me. I love the strong, fruit-flavored hops in this very surprisingly smooth IPA.

When it comes to 8th Wonder, it’s NO wonder why this brewery is one of the top breweries in Houston. Rocket Fuel is a Vietnamese Coffee Porter infused with cold brew coffee and milk sugar. While it might sound a little different, I highly recommend it. If you love Porters… it is for you!

My compadres ordered specialty cocktails: the Cool Cloudy Cucumber and the Blackberry Chili Margarita. When they were delivered my jaw dropped! They were equally beautiful and tasty. I took a sip of both, but next time I will get my own. Ha!

The Cool Cloudy Cucumber has vodka, mint, cucumber and Asian yogurt.  This creamy, refreshing cocktail put a smile on everyone’s face except the one who ordered it. By the time it made the rounds and got back to him it was gone! So, I recommend you order one for each member of the party.

The Blackberry Chili Margarita was skillfully built with tequila, Korean chili powder, jalapeno, lime juice and blackberries. I grew up in Houston where a love for margaritas is simply a prerequisite. But this Chili Margarita takes the cake! It’s sweet and spicy with a chili powder kick. If this was any indication of what our dinner would be like… I LIKE!

Like I said earlier, the famous Korean Fried Chicken is cooked to order and takes some time to prepare, so why not jump in head first to some appetizers while waiting for the Korean finale!

 First up was the D&B Truffle Fries. Amazing! Perfectly fried, not too crispy, but crispy enough to hold the grated, shredded and melted Parmesan delicately placed on top. The truffle oil blended with sauteed garlic and chopped parsley provided the perfect complement to my craft beer. Although I hated to mask the taste in any way, I couldn’t keep those fries out of the spicy ketchup which was strategically placed beside them.

The D&B Kimichi fries are literally a piece of art! As you can see in the photography, they are  visually appealing with a taste to match. They’re made with a blend of 4 cheeses, spicy mayo, D&B sauce, siracha, caramelized kimchi, cilantro, toasted sesame seeds and green and white onions. Is THAT something you would be interested in? I have tried Kimichi a number of different ways, but I guess it’s just fitting for me to say I like it BEST on fries.

We were about halfway through the fries when I saw our lovely server walk around the corner. She was holding a tray that was overflowing with plates: Baos, Empanadas, Bacon n Cheddar Mac n Cheese and my VERY favorite Tijuana street snack – Elote!

Here at Dak & Bop, they have a variety of Baos, so we decided to try 1 of each. My favorite of the bunch was the Chicken. Don’t get me wrong, the carnitas and K-Philly Cheesesteak were darn good too, but the chicken was something special. I guess it should come as no surprise, coming from a restaurant that specializes in fried chicken. Ha!

Staying in tune with the Asian Mexican Fusion, we stocked up on some empanadas served with a side of chipotle crema and chimichurri as dipping options.  The dish comes with 3 empanadas so we decided to get one of each. My favorite was the Bulgogi – a Korean specialty made with beef marinated to perfection before it is seasoned and grilled. This is the first time I have ever experienced a Bulgogi empanada, but I can guarantee it won’t be the last!

At this point I was getting to the slow-down stage. The problem with having such an amazingly unique appetizer menu is that it is hard to just take a few bites and move on. At the same time, the whole reason I was here was to experience the wonderful Korean Fried Chicken Wings that I had been hearing about. So, I cautiously pressed on and ordered another beer.

The Bacon n Cheddar Mac n Cheese tasted like you would expect – a wonderfully rich and gooey bowl of goodness. It is definitely a meal all in itself.  So good!

I just love Baja California and the Tijuana street scene. So many appetizing treats are found in the busy streets but there is one thing I can’t wait to enjoy every time I visit Mexico – the Elote! So, when I noticed this on the menu here at Dak & Bop… it quickly made it onto my plate.

The corn on the cob, or elote, is charred over a grill and lathered up with an extensive amount of butter, Mexican mayo, cotija cheese, paprika and chili lime sauce. The flavor profile of this amazing snack made my head explode. Every bite is better than the last and it took everything I had not to order another one. Definitely a must-try here at Dak & Bop, and make sure you shower it with lime!

And now, for the moment we had all been waiting for. We had ordered a combination of wings, drumsticks and strips and now the Korean Fried Chicken was flying in from the kitchen. I was speechless!

I’m sure I’ll never forget my first bite into a piece of Korean Fried Chicken… it was like an adrenaline rush through my entire body. The crunch the double-fried technique delivers is something else!

Right about the time you get over your amazement with how crunchy it is, there’s an incredible rush of robust flavors from the sauce and spices. This chicken is SO juicy! My favorite was the wings – but the strips sure are plump and easy to dip in the bleu cheese. I am afraid I might have become lost in time for a second… the wings are that intoxicating!

We had ordered 3 different sauces to try with the Korean Fried Chicken. First up, the Sriracha Honey-lime – a sweet and spicy, tangy treat. For something a bit spicier we got the Hot & Spicy sauce crafted with Asian peppers & spices which give it a smoky heat. Finally, we sampled the Soy Garlic sauce – the one you want to choose if you aren’t a lover of spicy, but like spice. This one is sweet & savory with a garlicky kick. Each of the flavors stood on its own, but the combination of the 3 gave us a very well-rounded look at what’s going down here.

Dak & Bop has a menu that I can’t put down. And literally everything on it is GOOD!

I started off with pretty high expectations and the fine folks at Dak & Bop just sent me to the moon! Not only is this Korean Fried Chicken thing legit, but the Asian Mexican Fusion just combined two of my favorite cultures. 

Remember I told you I like my I wings fried, baked, grilled, smoked, breaded, naked, wet, dry, spicy, sweet, savory, creamy, hot and cold? Well, go ahead and add Korean-Fried to the list!

PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE PUCKETT

FOOD STYLIST: KERI HENRY

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