- The Sauce
- The Wing
When I put out the call for places to try way back in September of last year, there were a number of people that recommended different Korean wing places. In my lifetime of wingsperiences (a majority of which took place before I moved to New York) I’ve had wings from a decent variety of geographical origins, but unfortunately it seems that in rural North Carolina that there’s not a huge pull for Korean food. Of the list I had in front of me, I won’t lie that it was mainly the name of this place that drew me to this weeks wreview of…
Turntable Chicken Jazz
314 5th Avenue (Koreatown/Midtown)
Elizabeth Gough-Gordon finally dipped her toes into the wreview, along with frequent flyers Sarah Sheppard, James Zhang, Janna Cisterino, and Michael David.
The first thing you’ll discover about Turntable Chicken Jazz, or perhaps will take a little bit of time to discover, is the entrance. The restaurant itself is second floor, but the door leading into the building is relatively unmarked and isn’t readily spotted. When you find the door, you walk to the end of white hallway and head through the door into a pitch-black stairwell, the only light inside is a string of running lights to lead you up the black stairs to a black door where you’ll enter to find the restaurant proper. Inside you’ll find roughly 8-10 seat bar and a smallish dining area that would comfortably seat about 25-30 people. The walls are adorned with vinyl records and various “antique” (read: retro) record players. The overall feeling is very cozy and modern, but I could see how it might turn into a full-on bar scene late at night. One of the claims to fame here is their live DJ spinning retro vinyl, and though I didn’t peek into the booth, it seemed like this was an absent feature on this particular Saturday afternoon.
The menu here isn’t huge, but it does run the gamut from bulgogi burgers and Korean seafood pancakes, to panko breaded cheese sticks and hush puppies. This is definitely a spot I can’t wait to get back to to try the menu proper. I’ll mention that I was a little tired and confused by the menu listings, because they listed “wings” and “drumsticks” separately, but their labeling was totally correct, and the drumsticks are indeed legs, not wings.
The PPW went from $1.66 for six to $1.48 for twenty, so a bit of a high bar right out of the gate.
What We Ordered
See previously for my confusion, but we got twenty each of the drumsticks and wings, split evenly between the only two sauces they have, which are Soy Garlic and Hot
Scoring presentation is a pretty nebulous thing. You have to figure out what was good and what was bad just from looking at it, which sometimes amounts to a bit of unfair judgement, at least in my opinion. That said, when these came to the table, they looked immaculate. Perfectly rounded stacks of wings (and drumsticks) served on metal trays with house-branded wax paper, separated by some decorative greenery and a couple plastic ramekins of cubed pickled daikon radish. I’m still not entirely sure what would constitute a 5, but I these were the best looking wings by a mile we’ve had at the wreview, which kind of earns the 5/5 on its own.
(Honestly I’m not sure which are which judging by the pictures, both wings looked so similar, so I put the wings here and will put the drumsticks in the other one.) “[The] Soy were delicious” says MD, JC echoing this sentiment adding that they were the “tastier of the two, but the taste was pretty mild.” SS “wanted to dip it in something, [there’s] not a lot of flavor.” This holds true for both of these flavors, but the flavor was really subtle, tasting more as if it were baked in than something the wings were tossed in before being served. There was just a hint of sweetness to them that built with successive wings but never became too overpowering for me (EG disagrees here, saying that she “preferred [the] hot to cut the sweetness.”) While the seasonings at work were very subtle, it complemented the flavor of the wing itself perfectly, adding sweetness to the juicy chicken inside. It’d be pretentious to call the flavor complex, but it feels that way because of the simplicity of the end result. It wasn’t AMAZING, but the Soy Garlic wins an easy 3/5 for a tasty and safe flavor.
“Slightly spicy, nice long-ish burn” is how JZ started his notes, adding that he “liked it more than the soy.” MD found them to “not have nearly enough heat.” SS and JC both found the heat to be enigmatic, the former describing them as having a “little heat, but not very intense” and the latter saying she “could taste the heat after a little while but not much else.” These… no they aren’t hot. They’re delicious, and like any other ‘hot’ wing the more you eat the spicier they’ll get, but I found myself having to chase the heat by eating them quickly, because it doesn’t linger very long. The flavor is very ambiguous beyond the middling heat, having some vague but present notes of red chili pepper and not much else. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t genuinely enjoy these, but this is a case where I have to rely on my objectivity to say that these are a little bland and one-note, lacking any traits that would draw me back to them again. 2/5.
Overall I have to say the failings of the Hot were not enough to tank the score below a deserving 3/5.
If I had one word to describe the wings here it would be crispy. If given the opportunity to add a few more, in order they would be small, juicy, delicious, lacking. Fortunately this is my column and I can use as many words as I like and give them context, so I will spin that vocabulary word-box into some sentences. The wings are breaded and cooked to have an incredible crispy crunchy exterior that literally everyone made sure to note down on the index cards I always give out for these wreviews. This exterior helps the inside of the wing to stay super juicy and delicious without sacrifice. On the other hand, the wings themselves were shockingly small, and while delicious were lacking of some of the more tender bits of chewy meat on the bone. Did I get them all? I think so. If we were factoring the drumsticks in, the score might be higher, but they aren’t wings. The wings, despite their noteworthy crunchy exterior, unfortunately earn a small and lackluster 2/5.
The Hot Take
It’s a tough call once again here. Turntable Chicken Jazz is churning out some good wings, but even better drumsticks, and had we not gotten those this score may have been different. But having those as a contrast to what kind of fried chicken pieces are available, I can’t help but use them for context. The wings and the sauces are all perfectly enjoyable, but this comes with a price-tag that, even across NYC is a little higher than it should be for what you get. Crunchy and juicy as they may be, an underwhelming wing with decent sauces and a steeper than normal pricetag can only land you at an overall 2/5. I want to heavily reiterate here that a 2 doesn’t mean the wings are sub-par, but only that I am not recommending you come here for the wings. They are a great appetizer (though I would still steer you to the drumsticks) but not worth the effort for a wing night.
The MaxFunDrive is right around the corner. While yes, that does mean that all your favorite shows will be asking you for money (and if you listen to them, consider it! Even a $5/month will net you a metric shit-ton of bonus episodes.) However it also means that MaxFunDay meetups are coming! On March 28th, there will be meetups around the country (dare I say globe?) that will give you a chance to meet fellow maxfunsters, and in some cases will feature celebrity guests and door-prizes. I know that MaxFun NYC’s own Boy Mayor Jeremy Frank has been working overtime to make sure this event is a huge success, and I urge anybody within the sound of my wing wreview to come check it out. Honestly, I wouldn’t have met all the people I have met and made friends with so many of the people I know in NYC if I had skipped out on last year’s MaxFunDay meetup. It’s worth it. You can get all the details HERE, or if a Tuesday sucks for you, we’re even doing a SECOND one on Friday March 31st thanks to Patrick Cartelli. I’ll see you all there, at both!
As always, the Weekly Wing Wreview and MaxFun.nyc are not affiliated with Maximum Fun or its associated products or brands. But we’re pretty big fans.