In Irvine's Heritage Plaza, there are three soondubu restaurants, a Korean coffee shop, and just down the street is a Korean barbecue restaurant. It's about time a Korean snack joint–referred to as "school food"–opened in the same plaza. Enter Chan Chan Food House. This small shop specializes in kimbap, Korean-style chicken wings, and other snack foods like buddae jigae (a soup made with instant noodles and sausages) and rice cakes.
From the outside, the shop doesn't look the most inviting and that's due to its compactness and hidden location in a corner of the complex. But once you step in, you'll notice the environment–with its playful wall decals and Korean pop music–is actually bubbly. Through a glass counter are jams and traditional Korean drinks like cinnamon tea and sweet rice juice.
Quickly you'll notice the menu mounted on the wall, where the largest section consists of chicken wing offerings. The flavors offered are Chan Chan (soy spicy), fried, sweet wings, or a mix of everything. You pay around $12 for seven pieces and $18 for 14.
Now, before you freak out about the price, know that their wings are gigantic. One wing is the equivalent of three wings from WingStop. Out of my seven-piece order of Chan Chan wings, I could only finish two. Upon the first bite, you'll immediately notice how heavy and fatty the batter is, which could be a good or bad thing depending on you. What's for sure, though, is that the wings' soy and chili oil glaze is tasty.
Now, to the best part of my snack (that was more like a meal): the kimbap. I ordered the Chan Chan kimbap, a combination of thinly sliced egg, imitation crab, fish cake, and sprouts rolled in rice and fresh seaweed. Each order of kimbap comes with a side of daikon cubes and two sauces–spicy mayo and spicy soy sauce–though the kimbap is flavorful enough to be eaten alone. Each bite is light and balanced, where one can only wonder how much attention the chefs put into perfecting porportions. Even the amount of sesame oil is perfectly subtle and only noticeable two kimbaps in.
Chan Chan Food House is refreshing in Irvine's array of Korean food choices which are, for the most part, all sit-down restaurants. Now, you can quickly grab the Korean snacks you need and leave–heck, you could even bring them across the street to Burnztilla to eat with their carne asada fries. It's a new day, Irvine.