Korean Fried Chicken Will Make You Sing at Seattle's Stars in the Sky
Stars in the Sky, north of Seattle in Edmonds, bills itself as a place to eat, drink, and sing. Order $35 of food and you can snag a free karaoke room for up to two hours—a pretty solid deal that unsurprisingly draws large groups of 20-somethings. I leave it to others to critique the singing; my focus here is the food, which is primarily Korean pub grub ranging from the faintly familiar Pizza Corn Cheese) to the completely foreign (Boiled Silkworms).
The shining star at Stars in the Sky is the SIS chicken, especially the SIS Famous Half and Half ($22.99 for equal parts Fried and Sweet Spicy, though you can get other combinations that include Asian Garlic Sweet, Charbroiled BBQ, and Seasoned Fried Chicken). The platter comes with pickled daikon slices and cabbage salad topped with ketchup and mayonnaise, a refreshing counterpoint to the stick-to-your-ribs chicken. The Sweet Spicy is more sweet than spicy, and somewhat sticky. I prefer the Fried, with a crispy crust that's lightly seasoned to let the moist meat take center stage. The chicken is juicy and delicious; even the normally disappointing breast is a prime piece.
Half and half may equal a whole chicken, but the giblets are missing, so I also ordered a round of Stir-Fried Chicken Gizzards ($8.99). The gizzards are thin-sliced, which takes away some of the textural fun I enjoy in larger pieces, but they're nice and chewy nonetheless, with good gamey flavor. They come to the table in a sizzling skillet that includes tender onions, buttery garlic, and fiery jalapeños, with a peppery dipping sauce on the side.
Tteokbokki is a Korean favorite, and Stars in the Sky serves these rice cakes a few ways, all spicy: plain, with fishcake, and with gyoza. I opted for the Spicy Ricecake with Ramen Noodle ($10.99), also known as Rabokki. The rice cakes are stir-fried with onions, scallions, and kimchi cabbage. I enjoyed the chewy, mochi-like texture of the cakes and the undercurrent of tingly heat, but I wasn't wild about the syrupy-sweet flavor that seemed to dominate the dish.
In contrast, the Snail Salad with Noodle ($15.99) allowed the spice of pungent gochujang chili paste to shine. But even with the spiciness, it's a refreshing dish, thanks to the greens below and the thin wheat noodles that top it, along with a slightly sweet, vinegary dressing. In their midst, you'll find cucumber slices, apples, cabbage, and onions. The salad features a generous portion of whelks (sea snails) that have a clam-like texture. There's also dried squid to add to the worthwhile chewy challenge.
For a fun finish, it's hard to resist the Korean dessert known as patbingsu, which the menu refers to as Asian Shaved Ice ($9.99 for the "tiny" portion, pictured, or $17.99 for "The Big," which must achieve proportions beyond belief). There's shaved ice at the bottom of the bowl, topped with a bit of controlled chaos: a can of fruit cocktail, some sweet red beans, sweet rice cakes, sweetened corn flakes. A mixture of condensed milk and half-and-half drips down from the top of the sugary mountain. Stars in the Sky tends to draw the younger generation; a dessert like this appeals to the young in all of us.