By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

Move over, Colonel Sanders, there’s a new KFC in town: Korean Fried Chicken! 

Located in a busy Carrollwood shopping center, the only Korean restaurant in the North Tampa area for miles, the family-run restaurant boasts chicken in a way you may never have tasted before. Recently opened in May 2021, K’s Chicken & Grill is the creation of mother and son duo Seong Ja Hong, owner, and Sean Woo, manager.

A chef in Korea, Seong Ja first brought her passion and talent for cooking for over 30 years in her birthplace to create a small, ten-table, but hugely popular restaurant in Jacksonville. While in operation, Gangnam Korean Restaurant was named “the number one Korean restaurant in Jacksonville.” 

When the pair decided to open in Tampa Bay, they knew they wanted a large location that could accommodate special occasions like birthday parties, graduations, anniversary celebrations, and other large events. K’s Chicken & Grill can comfortably seat up to 150 guests. 

Seong Ja and Sean purposely took the nontraditional route when creating the interior concept for K’s Chicken & Grill in Carrollwood. The décor is modern and trendy, with a huge TV playing popular KaPop music like BTS in the background. 

“We want people to feel like they’re eating in Korea, a definite Korean vibe.”

The restaurant serves Korean favorites, including Kimchi Fried Rice, Japchae glass noodles and vegetables, and Dolsot Bibimbap. 

Perhaps, it is best known for its famous Korean Fried Chicken and the just-recently-added, mouth-watering, all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ that comes with a side of rice and Banchan (Korean side dishes). 

“Guests cook their meat at the table, eat it right off the grill when it’s done cooking, so it’s more fresh and tasty.”

Korean Fried Chicken has a different type of batter, frying method, and seasoning than what Americans may expect of typical fried chicken. It comes out extra crispy, accompanied by a flavorful sauce for dipping – Sweet and Spicy, Honey Garlic, or Cheese. 

“What people love most about Korean Fried Chicken is the Korean sauce. They have so many sauces in Korea. We have a few of them, and people like it.”

To complement the meal, for patrons of legal age, K’s Chicken & Grill offers rice wine and ten different types of Korean alcohol called SoJu. Like Sake from Japan, SoJu is a popular alcoholic beverage in Korea.  

“Everybody drinks Soju, more than beer, in Korea,” she said. “Once people drink Soju at the restaurant, they love it.” 

Seong Ja explained her goal of opening her restaurant. 

“We want to provide quality Korean chicken and BBQ to the North Tampa area in Carrollwood,” she said. “Fortunately, people like our food and like our restaurant. We are doing our best to survive during Covid. We recently started all-you-can-eat, and most of our customers are coming to have it.” 

Seong Ja said many customers come to celebrate their birthdays because if they bring four or more paying friends, the birthday guest eats for free.

When asked what her favorite menu item was, Seong Ja said it was both of their most popular items: the Korean Fried Chicken and BBQ.

Visitors can’t speak highly enough about their experience with the food and staff at the new restaurant. 

A guest reviewed on Facebook, “This place has a very nice ambiance. The inside is clean, tastefully decorated, and spacious. The food is GREAT and reasonably priced. They have authentic Korean dishes, and the wait staff is very kind!”

A patron on Yelp loved the food and the service for a large party: “Do yourself a favor and go check this place out! We went here for a friend’s birthday as suggested by a friend, and it was the best decision of the year! We had a party of 12, and they were easily able to accommodate. Servers were very attentive, and food came out at a good pace. I can’t express how good this place was and how on point everything was. I’m totally coming back and telling all my friends and family about it! Do yourself a favor and get yourself down to K Chicken!”

Take-out is available, and the restaurant is also listed on DoorDash and GrubHub for delivery.

Seong Ja explained the reason behind their many positive reviews:

“We focus on what we are good at and what American people like. I feel like there are too many menu items in other Korean restaurants, like 40 or 50. We want to focus on the favorite Korean foods of American people. We trying our best now to be called the best Korean Friend Chicken and BBQ restaurant in Tampa.”

K’s Chicken and Grill is located at 14380 N Dale Mabry Highway. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 430 – 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, Noon to 1030 PM, and Sunday, Noon to 10 PM. To learn more, visit Facebook https://www.facebook.com/K-Chicken-Grill-Korean-BBQ-112579300871518 or Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kchickenandgrill. To make reservations, call (813) 373-5842.