Since opening last November, the Third Ward’s Dak and Bop has been a hard restaurant to figure out. It specializes in Korean fried chicken, but also serves mac and cheese, tortilla soup and parmesan fries with truffle oil. Their decor is purposefully casual and straightforward, but the menu is tinged with tapas and small “fusion plates” that suggest more upscale aspirations. Overall, Dak and Bop comes off as a mashup of Houston’s popular gastro-pubs like BRC and Revelry on Richmond and the Korean fried chicken chains that have been opening across the southwest.
The quality of the food at Dak and Bop is uneven, but at its best it is unparalleled. The chicken wings and drumsticks exemplify all the benefits of the Korean frying method: The meat is warm and succulent and the outer shell of skin is light, crispy and, depending on the sauce, even chewy. The boneless tenders are easier to eat, but without skin they don’t benefit from the Korean frying method like the drumsticks and wings do. All of the chicken is prepared with a hot-and-spicy sauce, soy garlic sauce, a mix of the two or neither. The soy garlic sauce lends a nice tang and saltiness to the chicken, but beyond that, is fairly unremarkable. The hot-and-spicy sauce uses a blend of Asian chili peppers and vinegar to create an authentic Korean seasoning. Its herbal heat could be an interesting alternative to the usual tabasco-driven hot sauces, but the sauce’s overwhelming spice can make even a small plate of wings hard to finish.
Dak and Bop’s appetizers are similarly inconsistent. The chicken baos are tasty, but at $9 for a plate of three, they’re no better than the cheaper versions made at any dim sum restaurant. The Asian citrus slaw is dry and the cold corn salad bland, although they are good for putting out the spicy wing’s brutal heat. Perhaps because of the kitchen’s expertise with a deep fryer, the fries are by far the best item on the appetizer menu. The fries are tossed with parmesan, truffle oil or both, and served with spicy mayo. In fact, the biggest downside of Dak and Bop is its pricing. Inconsistencies in the food aside, $14 for an eight-piece chicken combo and $7 for plain fries or corn on the cob is simply too much for a fried chicken joint to charge, even if the chicken itself is exceptional. Aggravating the problem, condiments like ranch and blue cheese dressing that are nearly always complimentary cost an extra dollar for a small two-ounce portion. Altogether, customers can expect to spend well over $20 on food alone. In all, Dak and Bop offers both delicious and disappointing plates. The prices might be high, but for those who have never tried its specialty dish, the trip may be worth it for the chicken, if nothing else.