Fried Chicken and Tofu at Forte Baden Baden
Do you have any idea how many times I wished I could eat a dinner in which i could alternate mouthfuls of fried chicken with bites of spicy, kimchi-laden tofu? More than you can imagine.
So thank god for Forte Baden Baden. While this restaurant in Korea Town is meant to resembles a German beer hall (it takes its name from the German town Baden-Baden), the food is just about all Korean. Either that, or fried. Don't be put off by the dirty hallway and odd smelling stairway that leads to this easy-to-miss second story restaurant. It's a small hurdle to get over in order to reach the feast of chicken within.
A large order of the fried chicken—which is actually a whole deep-fried rotisserie chicken, putting the chicken's flavor somewhere between "rotisserie" and "deep fried"—was enough to feed my party of five. (Don't worry; it also comes in a smaller size, although a smaller size that's probably still hefty.) Granted, it was accompanied/smothered by a carbohydrate bomb in the form of a mountain of fries. Not just any fries though; these crisp babies, perhaps just a bit thicker than the McDonald's variety, had a slightly rough texture on the outer crust that gave it extra "oomph" in the crunchiness department, making them dangerously irresistible. The chicken wasn't to die for, but the meat was moist enough and blanketed by a crispy, fatty layer of skin. Beneath the chicken were a few slices of vegetables that seemed out of place, and some puddingly-soft, whole roasted cloves of garlic.
When the combination of chicken and fried potato got to be too overwhelming, I'd shovel some tofu and kimchi into my mouth. Large wedges of soft, jiggly tofu blocks neatly surrounded a mound of the spicy fermented cabbage that no Korean meal can exist without. Alas, it's not safe for vegetarians; bits of pork are embedded in the kimchi mound. Not that I had a problem with that.
The duk bok gi, or rice "cakes" smothered in a spicy and sweet sauce, gave my jaws a work out. That's part of the fun though—gnawing on the super chewy, molded logs of mashed glutinous rice until they are broken down enough to make their way into your stomach. Two hard-boiled eggs accompanied the mass of rice cakes, along with sheets of fish cake.
Considering that these three dishes overly stuffed my party of five, I wouldn't go back to Forte Baden Baden without at least three additional people in tow. If you have a hard time convincing your friends to join you, you might need new friends.
Forte Baden Baden
Address: 28 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001 (b/n 5th and Broadway, map)
Phone: (212) 714-2266