There are always thousands of Yelp reviews to dig through from all of the different places my friends have gone ranging from the mundane, such as 7-Eleven or Starbucks to the divine, such as Crisp, Zed451, or Wings Around the World. The first trek of my wing odyssey took me to 75th and King Drive out in the middle of the deep south side to Wings Around the World, where I had the pleasure to take a bite of Sweet Plum BBQ, Cheesy Buffalo, and Honey Teriyaki wings. Rounding up the weekly lunch crew, we decided last week on swarming at Crisp to let them show us what they had. It was going to be an interesting experiment to say the least, as none of us had ever stepped foot into Crisp.
Renowned for their Korean style fusion wings, my wing radar always detected good wings were in the neighborhood with every step in Boystown. Every time getting off the Belmont CTA stop, I lamented that I was so close yet so far. Parking around Crisp was a cinch at 2:30pm this Wednesday afternoon. We entered Crisp to find one other person outside of our group already waiting for wings and ample space all around to sit where we pleased.
Approaching the counter, there stood an impressive display of all the various sodas all for the price of $1 with Vitamin Water for $2 including fan favorites such as Coke Zero, A&W Root Beer. Alongside the pop cans were the various house bowls featuring Bulgolgi and Bi Bim Bap combinations with the Bi Bim Bap serving as the main vegetarian fare for any potential non-meating-eating friends. Without any vegetarians on hand, it was clear that we’d all dive into chicken seventh heaven from wings to fully glazed fried chickens to chunks of chicken in bi bim bap bowls.
Knowing that I would be getting a full order of 10 wings, I was surprised when they told me that they had more than one flavor for the wings. For some reason I thought Crisp relied only on the Korean sweet and sour recipe but saw they had BBQ and several kinds of Buffalo Sauce. I’ve had BBQ and Buffalo sauces from all over the place, so I decided to stick with the basics and go with the Seoul Sassy flavors and an order of fries. A can of Coke Zero accompanied my order, which is always a bonus because Coke Zero definitely doesn’t taste like Diet Coke.
My friends all ordered in lockstep various dishes and everyone had some wings on the way. I noticed the business card on crisp declared their head chef the house master of wings. Was it true? Could these wings be as magical as Wings Around the World? We sat down at one of the large tables and awaited our orders.
As my basket of wings and fries was the first dish ready, I had the uncomfortable ordeal of waiting for everyone’s else’s food to arrive. I could no longer adhere to the rules of conduct of good manners and picked off a few fries while waiting since it was pushing 3 o’clock and I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day! I saw some bowls of Bi Bim Bap materialize, a half of a fried chicken dropped in, and another full order of Crisp wings and then realized it was time to go to down!
As with most wing eating experiences, this one was no different, the obligatory wing exchange was facilitated and I traded in one of my Sweet Sassies for a Crisp BBQ-flavored wing. All of the wings were properly fried hard and I found the texture of the wings both majestic and comforting. The Crisp BBQ flavor was less than impressive, with a clumsy taste akin to kim chee. There was heat on thse wings, but there was not enough sweetness, but I didn’t mind trying one for the sake of trying.
After the exchange ritual, I happily dug into my own set of Seoul Sassy and got the rush of flavor that I expected. Sweet and tangy with a subtle hint of spice, the magic combination dazzled my taste buds and even the little pieces of green onion served to heighten the experience. There is something to be said about Korean wing recipes, and there’s no better food experience than tasting a recipe that tries to balance out the different taste sensations and savoring sweet success with every single bite. The portions were massive and I found myself full after eating about five full-sized wings while another friend threw in the wet nap after four wings. In retrospect, taking pictures of all of the food before we all demolished all of it proved to be fortuitous timing.
In the end, we had way too much food for our own good and thus went our indoctrination into the wonderful world of Crisp. It was a pleasant experience to say the least, not having fight off crowds and being able to enjoy a meal with friends without having to feel like the walls were caving in. Were Crisp wings better than Wings Around the World? It’s a Tale of Two Wings and I don’t think that’s a fair comparison as they’re entirely different beasts. Are mashed potatoes better than french fries or roasted potatoes? The world may never know, but it’s best to try it all before it runs out!