Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Better Version of KFC in Irvine

Krave Asian Fusion Restaurant
2819 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614

I've been in the mood for wings lately. I don't know what it is, but I have been thinking about them all the time. It might be due to the fact that this is the best time of the year for a sports fan. We have the start of the long baseball season, the NBA and NHL playoffs, and the NFL Draft is coming up real soon, which means football is not too far off. Anyways, no food item goes as good with sports as wings. Restaurant chains are based off of this concept, even though most of them don't do wings any justice. I'm looking at you Buffalo Wild Wings.

Krave came across my radar when they sent me an invite to come into their restaurant to give them a try. I never set up that media invite, but did put them on my list of places to try. After a rare trip to the movies to see "City of Gold," the flick about LA Times Food Critic, Jonathan Gold, we were near enough Krave, and we were definitely craving food after watching this gastronomic movie, so we decided to high tail it in to give them a try.

Krave is located in a kind of odd spot, near the corner of Jamboree and Main, situated in the same parking lot as a Residence Inn, Souplantation, and Boudin. I thought it might be a little challenging to get a parking spot here, but we got one right in front of the restaurant on this Saturday night.

Krave was not overly busy on this night, with about four tables in use during our one hour stay. The sleek decor is accentuated by the white walls and hanging light fixtures. There's an eight seat bar, with two televisions behind it, a slight nod to the relationship of sports and wings?

The menu is not going to blow you away with its diversity. Three sections to this menu, with one of those being wings, the entree section offers five options, including a burger, chicken katsu, bibimbap, udon noodle soup, and garlic noodles. Starters include potstickers, edamame, salmon avocado salad, a kogi quesdailla, and loaded kogi french fries. Now that you know the whole menu, let's see if this place can satisfy my wing cravings.

Before we get to the wings, let's check out the starter we went with, the Loaded Kogi Fries ($9.99). I have never eaten at the Kogi truck before, I know this probably ends my credibility as a food blogger, but I'm not really into food trucks, and have never been anywhere that they were scheduled to be. Checking out the trucks menu though, they do not offer fries, so I think these are just Kogi inspired. A big mound of fries are topped with Sriracha cheese sauce, marinated ribeye, scallions, and sliced jalapenos. This appetizer kind of fell flat for me personally. I'm never one to be too excited with cheese sauce, and this one was kind of bland, even with the supposed inclusion of Sriracha. I also felt the ribeye needed to be left in bigger hunks, so you could get a better taste of it. The fries were your basic, fast food style fries, which did not blow us away. I'd probably try the Kogi Quesadilla next time I"m here.

Now the main event, and the real reason we were here, the Wings ($11.99). At Krave they offer small, medium, or large orders of Korean Fried Chicken, and depending on the combination of what kind of wings you want, determines how many you get. If you order the small, like we did, you get your choice of 10 wings, 5 drums, or with a combination of both, you get 8. Not sure how set they are on this policy, because we got the small, and it came with 10 pieces with both wings and drums. They also offer four kinds of sauce with their wings; soy garlic, black peppercorn, Chinese chili, or spicy. Again the menu states that you can choose two sauces per order, but our waitress said it would be okay for us to try them all, which we did not scoff at.

The wings at Krave are bigger than most we have tried, with lots of meat on them. The outer shell has a great crunch to it, and the chicken inside has a moistness to it, which you do not find in most chicken wings. Really a great chicken wing, in fact one of the best we have had. The sauces were all pretty good, but none of them really stood out for me, except the black peppercorn. The spicy sauce was not nearly spicy enough, and even Katie could handle it, and she's usually a lightweight when it comes to spice.

Not sure if we had enough food, we also ordered these Garlic Noodles ($7.99) just to make sure. These came to the table more on the lukewarm side, than I thought they should be. Even though they were kind of cold, I warmed up to these as I ate them. The garlic was definitely present, and really jazzed up this rather simple looking dish. Not sure I'd get them again, but on this visit they closed out our meal admirably.

Krave did what we came here for the best, their wings. Even a few weeks after this visit, I still recall these wings favorably, and still think they are the best I have had to date. I do understand that they may not be for everyone though. Some might scoff at the price tag of over a dollar per wing, or the fact that there is no traditional buffalo sauce here, but taken for what these are, you will be blown away by these wings. The other items we had on this evening unfortunately did not live up to the high standards set by the chicken wings. Both the noodles and the fries kind of fell flat. Service was pretty good as expected, as there was only three tables of customers during our stay. The wings are the things to get here, and we look forward to coming back again soon to have some more, while watching some games.

Out of five pieces of jerky, (because in 2015, Hershey bought Krave Jerky for over $200 million dollars), five being best to zero being worst, Krave Asian Fusion gets 3 pieces of jerky.

For more information about Krave Asian Fusion, head to their website here:

Krave Asian Fusion Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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