At first glance Gami Chicken & Beer is hard to spot as a place serving some good fried chicken. I have walked past the shop a number times and it has always been closed – this is because they only open from 5pm onwards and I am usually passing it on my way to work in the morning.
The thought of Chicken and Beer reminds me of Atlanta rapper Ludacris and his album from the mid-2000s titled just that, “Chicken & Beer”. It is because of this that I have always associated Chicken & Beer with the track “Stand Up” [When I move, you move (Just like that)]. Well Gami has given me a cultural head check that leaves me with a new insight into fried chicken – Yang-nyum chicken is traditional Korean fried chicken (KFC???) that is served in the bars of Seoul and beyond, where fortunate citizens engage in conversation over a plate of chicken and a pot of beer. And for some reason America is where the world looks when pointing the finger to fried chicken but after eating at Gami, I think Korea is a good contender for the crown.
Gami is located on Little Lonsdale Street near the Exhibition Street corner. It is a small bar with a few seats and after 5pm it draws in the groups of patrons ready to devour on their chicken much in the tradition of the Koreans. The star of their show is obviously the fried chicken but we arrived at 5pm – straight from work – so the deep fryers were not hot enough as yet. The young guys running the shop were happy to seat our group of eight and explained that the chicken may be some time. Not too phased by the prospect of our tardy chicken we were quite indulgent in ordering a couple of jugs of the house brew – Gami Beer. This is a refreshing drop and at $13.50 a jug it was even better. Also available is Bluetongue Beer which is a local beer – and by local I mean from the Central Coast of New South Wales. While it seemed a bit too adventurous for our discerning group, you can order a mini keg that is brought to the table and you pour your own beers to your heart’s content – or until the bottom of the keg.
We were given a complimentary dish to compensate for the deep fryer delay and this was a double serve of Corn Cheese – on the menu it is described as “Simply corn and cheese” – And it was. Nicely presented in a cast iron skillet on a wooden trivet – and pleasant tasting too. The challenge was to eat the dish with chopsticks alone – a feat which I failed at miserably. Kernels of corn slicked with cheese just would not hold, besides I needed more than a single kernel in every mouthful – “Fork please!!!”.
Our chicken made an appearance much to our anticipation and whet appetites. Gami, like the Colonel, serves up an Original recipe which is $27 a plate, which we were told consists of one whole chicken. There are another two flavours – Sweet Chilli and Sweet Soy Garlic. For those who just cannot decide - the Half and Half plate for $30 is a sure pleaser with portions in two flavours of your choice.
The Sweet Chilli and Sweet Soy Garlic fried chicken does come laden with their respective sauces and the recommendation I can offer is not to eat too much of the sauce – your tummy will not be happy. The Sweet Chilli has a slight subtle heat that won’t set your mouth alight and the Sweet Soy Garlic is a little more heavy on the sweet side than it is garlicky – so approach with caution. Our chicken was served with a light coleslaw type salad and pickled daikon which was a perfect sour bite to cut some of the sweetness.
Fried chicken will never be the same for me (until I actually go to the Southern comfort of the US and sample some for myself), but for a good serve of tasty chicken conjured up with as much goodness that deep frying poultry can offer, make a trip to Gami. Our group of eight went through 3 plates of chicken and 4 jugs of beer (it was a work night after all!). The split bill of $20 a head was very reasonable considering fried chicken is eaten as after dinner snacks in Korea and never a main meal.