Korean fried chicken goes glam, Rocco DiSpirito's star power and Mooyah's from-scratch mentality

Menu Talk: Pat and Bret chat about Coqodaq’s fried chicken-and-champagne deal, Chef Rocco DiSpirito’s fan girls and how Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes sets itself apart in a crowded segment.

This week on Menu Talk, Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food and beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, share their take on some recent happenings in the world of food, drink and restaurants.

Pat recently visited Coqodaq, a classy NYC Korean fried chicken restaurant with a casual vibe run by the owners of upscale steakhouse Cote. The specialty here is the Bucket List, a shareable fried chicken feast for $38 per person that includes several courses and two generous buckets chicken.

Almost every table orders a bottle of champagne to accompany the fried chicken—a pairing Coqodaq recommends—and the meal turns out to be a pretty nice deal in these inflationary times. Restaurants that serve Korean fried chicken in the U.S. are usually mom-and-pops or fast casuals, but Coquodaq elevates the experience with chef-driven recipes and a hip ambience.

Both Bret and Pat attended an event for Rocco DiSpirito, the James Beard Award-winning chef and TV celeb who just released a new cookbook called “Everyday Delicious.” Although DiSpirito isn’t currently affiliated with a restaurant, he earned acclaim as the hot and talented young chef helming the kitchen at Union Pacific. He still has a large fan following—especially among women—who turned out in droves for the cookbook signing event, held at Stella 34 Trattoria in Macy’s flagship in New York City.

And we played clips from Pat’s podcast with Doug Willmarth, president of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes, the 72-unit better burger chain. Willmarth talked about how Mooyah differentiates itself in the crowded fast-casual burger segment with its laser focus on quality ingredients cooked from scratch. The potato chips, onion strings and fries cut from fresh Idaho potatoes are all house-made and the burgers are pattied in house and customized to order.

He also named his favorite burger customization and shared details about the popular curated burgers designed for guests who prefer a chef-created build. Among those, the Best Quesonario is the top seller. Mooyah launches limited-time specials on a regular basis, with a seasonal shake and loaded fries currently on offer, and Willmarth reveals what's next.

Menu Talk is a collaboration between Restaurant Business Senior Menu Editor Pat Cobe and Bret Thorn, senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality. You can subscribe to it wherever you listen to podcasts.

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