Food & Drink | January 5, 2021 2:00 pm

Shake Shack Culinary Director Explains the Restaurant’s New Fried Chicken Menu

A limited-edition Fried Chick’n menu is available January 5 through April 5 at all of the chain's U.S. locations

Here's Why Korean-Style Fried Chicken Just Launched at Shake Shack
Shake Shack is serving up Korean-style Fried Chick’n starting today.
Christine Han

To start off 2021, Shake Shack is turning back the clock with some new menu items that recall a popular trend from the recent past.

Not from 2020, thank the lord, but from 2019, The Year of the Chicken Sandwich.

Released today and available through April 5 at all of the chain’s U.S. locations, Shake Shack’s limited-edition Korean-style “Fried Chick’n” menu features a chicken sandwich highlighted by a Gochujang-glazed breast topped with toasted sesame seeds and served crispy on top of white kimchi slaw made with Choi’s Kimchi.

The sandwich, which debuts alongside an accompanying menu that includes Korean-style chicken bites, Gochujang fries and a black sugar vanilla shake, is a slight variation on an offering Shake Shack South Korea, which has 14 locations in the country, released in October of last year.

Shake Shack is serving up Korean-style fried chicken starting on January 5th.
Christine Han

The Gochujang menu the company began offering in its South Korea locations in 2020 was actually inspired by a trip the brand’s culinary team took to Seoul in 2015, according to Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati.

During that trip, which came a year before Shake Shack opened its first location in Seoul in 2016, Rosati “immediately fell in love” with the Korean fried chicken scene after getting some tips about where to grab a bite to eat from friends who have local food blogs.

“When Shake Shack enters a new market, we first explore the local culture and restaurant scene, from tiny off-the-beaten-path spots and hidden treasures to fine dining establishments and everything in between,” Rosati tells InsideHook. “The culinary team and I visited so many fried chicken joints, from Hyodo Chicken in the Changdum neighborhood to Ungteori in the Itaewon neighborhood, with the goal of immersing ourselves in the different styles of fried chicken and learning what makes Seoul such an iconic food city.”

Now, based on the way his tastebuds were tantalized during that trip and the success of the recent rollout of the Gochujang menu in South Korea, U.S. customers are getting a chance to sample a chicken sandwich that features a garlic-and-ginger sauce with deep roots that took a long time to perfect.

“Our Korean-style Fried Chick’n went through about five iterations before we were truly happy with it,” Rosati says. “We try to be thoughtful along the way as we experiment with various flavors and strive to achieve balance amongst all the elements. Our sauce is made with ample amounts of fresh garlic and ginger blended into the gochujang glaze that gives a burst of flavor throughout and helps cut through the richness of the fried chicken. The sauce was inspired by a similar garlic and ginger sauce from Jung-ong Sweet & Spicy Chicken in Seoul, which dates back to the 1970s.”

In addition to bringing a sticky, spicy, sweet, umami, fermented Gochujang glaze stateside, the limited-edition menu showcases how willing Shake Shack, which had a location open in Dubai prior to having double-digit locations serving burgers in the U.S., is to embrace and showcase international flavors.

“Shake Shack has an extensive global presence with many unique menu items that we create for each of those locations, inspired by and rooted in their local communities, just as we do here in the U.S.,” Rosati says. “We’ll continue to explore bringing some of those menu items back home. While the ShackBurger will always be a staple of our menu, we take our guests’ feedback to heart. We know they are constantly seeking out new menu items and flavors to try. We’re always looking for ways to surprise Shack fans with fun, interesting food we know they’ll love as much as we do.”