Kung Fu Tea, specializing in made-to-order Bubble Teas, Milk Cap Teas, and Slushes, has exploded since Michael, Ray, Allen, and Sean opened their first shop in Flushing in 2010, with more than 200 outlets now serving delightful beverages across the country and around the world. This Friday, however, the King Fu boys are poised to go even bigger, with the official unveiling of their first-ever partnership store, serving a full menu from the beloved Taiwanese fast-food chain TKK Chicken.
The restaurant, bright and welcoming on a bustling piece of 23rd Street in the Flatiron District, is the first TKK Chicken located anywhere in America (there are 66 of them in Taiwan), and at a quasi-fancy media preview party this week, I got to sample most everything on the menu. The fried chicken, whether sold by the piece, as boneless "tenders," or in a sandwich with ranch dressing and pickles, was uniformly juicy, tender, and well-seasoned. The trick, say TKK representatives, is that each piece of chicken spends at least 12 hours marinating in a bit a vinegar and a secret blend of spices, then breaded with flour and fried just once. It's light, it's crisp on the outside, and the bird itself has plenty of presence.
But the best (at least the most unique) thing at TKK Chicken may be the Kwa Kwa Bao, which looks vaguely like a squat, craggy egg roll but is loaded with surprises: the inside is dense with sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, and ground pork; the exterior is a stretched-out piece of crackling-fried chicken skin. Unsurprisingly, this packs a lot of flavor. There are dipping sauces for everything if you ask, including a thick, fiery/sweet Habanero and Mango concoction that I recommend with the tenders. Sides include Curly Fries, Mashed Potatoes, and nicely blistered Shishito Peppers.
Meanwhile, over in the Kung Fu Tea section of the menu, you can build your own beverage from any of the company's most popular offerings. The Milk Cap teas are perhaps the most interesting—these aren't exactly cheese teas, but rather a close, less-savory sibling to those trendy drinks. There are also simple cold brewed teas, fruity punches, thick slushes, and creamy milk teas. You can also add any number of toppings to your base, from red bean or Oreo bits to Nata de coco or grape-flavored popping bubbles. Beer and soda are also available.
The space itself is covered in boldly-rendered slogans and line illustrations, with tables up front and in a smaller dining area in the back. For grand opening weekend Kung Fu Tea and TKK Chicken are offering a couple of specials, including free drinks (with purchase) and a years-worth of free fried chicken—really: one combo meal per month—for the first 50 customers in line on Saturday morning.