The Perfect Korean Fried Chicken Lands in Bellevue

Eastsiders can now rejoice in the opening of Chi Mac’s first Eastside location. Haven’t heard of it? Prepare for it to be a new favorite of yours. Bellevue- and Seattle-based Chi Mac is a Korean fried chicken and beer concept restaurant serving made-to-order wings, signature sauces, and a selection of Korean street food dishes like kim-cheese fries, house fried rice, and corn cheese. 

Owner Francis Woo’s original concept started nine years ago in the University District as a family barbecue chicken restaurant serving hungry college students and locals. In 2017, after getting back from his startup ventures in Korea, Woo saw an opportunity to create a fast-casual restaurant that focused on a smaller menu with high quality ingredients and offered an atmosphere that places conversation at the forefront. 

He removed all the TV’s in the restaurant, shortened the table lengths, and Chi Mac was born. The new layout boasts communal-style seating with about 60 seats and a handful of two-seater table options alongside the walls. Woo wanted to create an in-dining experience where guests would strike up conversations with people next to or across from them.

The name of the restaurant was derived from a popular phrase people in Korea say often that translates to chicken and beer. “Chi” is short for chicken in English, and “Mac” is short for “Maekju,” meaning beer in Korean. 

“Many chicken restaurants came and went, but we survived through time,” Woo said. “When we decided to move forward with our new brand and concept, it only made sense for us to start where it all began. My goal for Chi Mac is for everyone to experience our Korean-inspired chicken and our sauces. I hope, one day, (people) of all different ages, races, and cultures will have tried our
Korean-style chicken.”

What makes Chi Mac unique and irresistible is its dedication to quality ingredients and the preparation to put the very best dishes on the customer’s plate. The chef starts with a full bird and cuts it down to the pieces needed for all the dishes. The brine combined with the house-made sauces give the wing a crackly crunch with a burst of umami notes of sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy. Everything is made-to-order, which means no shortcuts. 

For its signature wings, guests can select wet or dry rub options that include its signature “Korean,” a Korean-style gochujang-based sauce made with Korean chili paste; “soy garlic,” a sweet and uniquely savory sauce sprinkled with crispy garlic; and the “chili jam,” a Korean twist on Thai-style wings, which packs some heat. 

On the dry rub side, the most popular flavor is the “snow,” wings dusted in Parmesan and onion powder to create the perfect combination of umami as you bite into the chicken; “Sichuan pepper,” a Chinese-style rub flavored with stone-ground Sichuan peppercorn and garlic, and its classic “naked” wing, which is marinated for 24 hours and paired with a creamy buttermilk ranch, barbecue, or buffalo sauce. 

The Eastside restaurant is located in Factoria Village just below the T-Mobile Corporate building with ample parking for guests. Chi Mac is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the business is closed for dinner (for now). 

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