Korea’s KFC: Wasabi founder brings K-Pop endorsed fried chicken chain to London

Simon Freeman
·2-min read
<p>Dong Hyun Kim is bringing his favourite childhood chicken to the UK </p> (ES Composite)

Dong Hyun Kim is bringing his favourite childhood chicken to the UK

(ES Composite)

WASABI founder Dong Hyun Kim is bringing South Korean fried chicken chain Pelicana to the UK with the first of four London branches opening later this month.

The brand, which serves its signature sweet-and-sour wings from more than 3,000 outlets across Asia, Australia and the US, will launch its debut site at Hammersmith Broadway Shopping Centre on April 14.

More stores are due to follow with openings pencilled in for Islington, Wimbledon and Clapham Junction through the summer.

According to accounts filed with Companies House, Asian foods entrepreneur Kim - who grew up in South Korea - registered himself as the director of the UK company in November.

A spokesman for the group told industry newsletter Propel: “Mr Kim is excited to bring Pelicana to the UK. It has been Mr Kim’s favourite chicken since he was a child.”

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Kim moved to the UK in 1999 and founded Wasabi four years later, opening its first shop on Embankment in 2003, after selling sushi and bento from a stall in Camden market.

It now has around 60 global branches, with 40 in London, alongside counters in some branches of M&S.

Pelicana opened in 1982 in Daejeon South Korea, with a mission to “redefine what we know as KFC” - as in, Korean Fried Chicken.

It has recently opened branches in Australia and the US, proving wildly popular among ex-pat communities and riding the millennial wave of K-Pop cachet popularised by the likes of boyband BTS, whose rivals 2PM advertised the chain at the outset of their career.

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Visiting a newly-opened branch between Broadway and Fifth Avenue in New York, food writer James Park described it as : “The best version of Korean fried chicken that New Yorkers can probably find outside of Korea.”

He wrote: “I took a bite, and I was flooded with so many emotions. My eyes got teary not only because how juicy and delicious the chicken was, but also because it took me back to my memories of eating fried chicken with my brother and watching TV.”

Provisional opening dates are: Angel in June 2021, Wimbledon in July 2021 and Clapham Junction in September 2021.”

Kim also holds the master franchise rights for udon brand Kineya, which is planning to open four more UK sites this year in Cambridge, Ealing, Hammersmith and Richmond.

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