I’ve never really “got” chicken wings. Yes, I like chicken and I guess I enjoy eating the wings, and they certainly go well with a cold beer, but I can’t really imagine going to a place specifically to eat them. “Wing nites” leave me cold. They are a quintessentially American food; I was once driven an hour and a half across Pennsylvania to eat chicken wings, and I thought (and still think) that the nice people who drove me there were also a little crazy.
[Note: No money, free food or other inducement was asked for or received in return for this post. Soju Sunrise accepts freebies only very occasionally and will always explicitly state if this is the case.]
So when people started raving about a chicken wing place opening up in Itaewon, my first reaction was an equally American “meh”. I’m glad that I put my natural scepticism to one side, because Nekkid Wings, which serves wings and beer and not a whole lot else, is a spot that I’ve returned to a few times in the last month, and it’s time to spit out what is, for any self-respecting Brit, a shameful culinary admission; these Americans might just be onto something, you know.
Tucked away down a sidestreet just a bone’s throw from Linus BBQ, Nekkid Wings offers a range of about a dozen flavours of chicken wings and half a dozen very solid beers, including my favourite Hand and Malt Slow IPA. It’s not easy to find, but luckily there are a couple of clues painted on the walls around the maze-like complex of alleyways that will guide you there.
At about 12,000 for ten wings, there are certainly cheaper places to get your avian drumstick fix. But with the large doors thrown open when the weather permits to create an airy, welcoming atmosphere, it’s a nicer spot to while away a couple of hours than most of the sticky-floored Itaewon saloons that you might otherwise find yourself drawn into.
They have a tight but strong selection of craft beers on tap, ranging from Vunderbar Pilsner to Robust Porter with excellent options in between. By Seoul standards the beers are all pretty reasonably priced at between 7-8,000 won. As a wing-sceptic, this is what drew me in and what keeps me coming back, and it’s actually one of the better places in Itaewon to drink a decent beer.
Anyway, you’re here for the wings, even if I wasn’t, really. There’s a minimum five-wing order per flavour – so you can get two flavours in an order of ten wings, four varieties if you order 20 wings, and so on. Wings can be ordered on their own, or in a platter with some celery, carrots and dip for a small extra cost.
The range of flavours includes classics like Buffalo but leans mostly on quite innovative choices like a Korean glaze variety, jerk flavouring and Parmesan garlic.
There’s not really much to say about the flavours except that each of us will have their own favourites. I enjoyed the lemon pepper most of all – a bit tangy, a bit spicy, very addictive.
The jerk chicken left me underwhelmed first time out, as with the Buffalo wings, but either they have improved the recipe on subsequent visits or I was just hungrier. Either way, I enjoyed both of these as well.
If you want something a bit spicier, try the Buffalo wings, or the Amazinger – the regular sauce is already pretty spicy, so I imagine that the “Xtra” version will come close to the blow-the-doors-off varieties of a thousand American food challenges.
The whole concept is well designed and well executed, and there’s a fun element to going with a group of friends and ordering a selection of different flavours. Service is excellent and (you’d be amazed how many people commented to me on this!) the bathrooms are spotlessly clean.
On my first visit, there with a large group of people [and pretty harsh critics], we ordered a whopping 100 wings in one fell swoop and the results were a little so-so – a bit soggy and lacking the crispy texture of good coated wings. Having been a couple of times since then, however, I have really enjoyed it every time and have nothing but good things to say about the guys running this place. The wings are pretty meaty and well flavoured and all in all, if you like chicken wings, I’m sure you will like Nekkid Wings.
I’m still not sure about eating chicken wings for dinner, but as a mid-afternoon drinking spot, or a second place to visit after dinner, you could do a lot worse than getting Nekkid! Give it a try. I’m a convert.
- Category: American
- Price: $$$$
- Must try: Lemon pepper wings (12,000 KRW for ten)
- Subway: Itaewon Station (이태원역) exit 4 / Noksapyeong Station (녹사평역) exit 4
- Directions: A little hard to find on a back street just behind McDonald’s and Motor City in Itaewon. You can walk into the Itaewon market and turn left at Pizza Peel, and you will emerge onto a little back street with Nekkid just to your left. Alternatively, find your way to Linus BBQ and Nekkid is just next door (to the left, as you look at Linus). The address is 서울특별시 용산구 녹사평대로 174-11.
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 12 noon – 11 pm (closing half an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays). Find them on Facebook and Instagram; they also have a pretty good website.