Fried Chicken Takes Flight With Caviar & Champagne At These Upscale Eateries

Restaurants are serving fried chicken with umami-rich caviar and sparkling wines for an extravagant pop of flavors.

(The Bucket List/Coqodaq)

Fancified fried chicken pairings are having a moment, with Champagne and caviar roosting alongside the humble bird at a flock of fine-dining destinations. This time-honored upsell lately has diners clucking about Coqodaq, a buzzy new Manhattan eatery that aims to be “the Cathedral of Fried Chicken” with refined takes on crispy Korean-style chicken and banchan supplemented by tins of Petrossian and Imperial Daurenki caviar served with buttery milk toast, crème fraîche and chives. 

Coqodaq notably claims to have “America’s largest restaurant Champagne list” consisting of 400-plus bottles of bubbly to enjoy with high-end poultry and rarefied fish eggs.

(Coqodaq/Jason Varney for Rockwell Group)

The moodily-lit eatery—designed by The Rockwell Group—features glass-and-bronze arches illuminating the dining room, forest-green banquettes, a glossy black soapstone and tambour wood bar, and an opulent hand washing station with glowing amber mirrors near the reception desk. 

(Coqodaq/Jason Varney for Rockwell Group)

The signature Bucket List special serves fried chicken parts and nuggets in ceramic buckets with an optional Soy Sauce Garlic or Gochujang glaze, along with four dipping sauces. The bird comes with a cup of warm chicken consommé infused with Korean Red Ginseng, pickled vegetables, cold Soy Sauce Noodles with nori and celery, and soft-serve frozen yogurt for dessert.

(Evan Sung/COQODAQ)

And if you’re craving a bite-sized chicken and caviar pairing, Coqodaq’s Golden Nugget is a ritzy riff on a Chicken McNugget, topped with a dollop of luxe Petrossian Golden Daurenki caviar and crème fraîche.

Simon Kim—the founder of Gracious Hospitality Management, the restaurant group behind Coqodaq and the Michelin-starred Cote Korean Steakhouse—crows that his air-chilled chicken is an upgrade from typical fried fowl. 

“Our batter is completely gluten-free and made with a proprietary rice flour blend, which retains far less fat than oils traditionally used for fried chicken,” he says. “We also use Zero Acre oil, which is made from fermented sugarcane in Brazil and contains more monounsaturated fat than olive oil. It has a clean taste while being less oily, so diners get the best of both worlds.”

As far as Champagne pairings, Kim suggests sparkling wines with an acidity and lightness to cut through the richness of fried chicken. “When it comes to our by-the-glass Champagnes, I really enjoy the Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs,” Kim says. “It’s clean and refreshing. For a celebratory moment, I reach for the Dom Pérignon P2. And when I want to feel like James Bond, Bollinger is my Champagne of choice.”

(Andrew Bezek: Momofoku Noodle Bar)

Coqodaq may currently sit atop the pecking order of fancy chicken spots, but it’s hardly New York City’s first high-profile purveyor of fried chicken and caviar. Celebrity chef David Chang popularized the trend by offering a fried chicken and caviar platter back in 2014 at Momofuku Noodle Bar, and later served cold fried chicken with caviar at his higher-end Momofuku Ko, which shuttered last year.

(Andrew Bezek: Momofoku Noodle Bar)

Noodle Bar’s current fried chicken and caviar feast (meant for two to four people) costs $600 and features two whole fried chickens—a Southern-style bird fried with buttermilk and spices, and a Korean-inspired chicken that’s triple-fried and dressed with a light spicy glaze—served with with Platinum Osetra Caviar, chive crepes, crème fraîche, white barbecue sauce and potato chips.

“We’ve been serving this fried chicken and caviar set since 2014,” confirms Momofuku Noodle Bar East Village Chef Pablo Vidal Saioro. “It’s one of Dave’s favorite combos and is inspired by Chef Wylie Dufresne’s cold fried chicken nuggets with caviar.”

“It’s a celebratory large format meal that emphasizes Momo’s high/low ethos—an unlikely union of comforting fried chicken with the delicacy of caviar. At Momofuku Las Vegas, our team offers a fried chicken and caviar bun that includes truffle cream and chives loaded in a warm steamed bun.”

In a 2016 Instagram post, Chang said he added the now-iconic pairing after tasting “little nuggets of cold fried chicken with caviar” at legendary chef Wylie Dufresne’s now-defunct Lower East Side eatery, WD50. “I thought it was both perfection & perverse,” Chang wrote. “I loved it. The briny funk of the caviar paired so well with blander notes of fried chicken.” 

Chang, who hosts Dinner Time Live and Ugly Delicious on Netflix, also revealed his favorite way to enjoy the combo: “The best way has been to peel the fried chicken skin, put a dollop of caviar and crème fraîche, and eat it like a little taco.”

(Rustic at Francis Ford Coppola Winery)

While Coqodaq has once again launched fried chicken and caviar into the culinary zeitgeist, the luxe combo is likewise being embraced by scores of other heat-seeking eateries, whether the bird is served with caviar, champagne, or both.

New York’s Sip and Guzzle—a recent off-shoot of famed Tokyo cocktail den The SG Club—dishes out Tea-Smoked Golden Osetra caviar with Puffed Chicken Skin and Koji Butter for $165. Bunny’s Buckets & Bubbles, a diner-style spot in Baltimore, serves its fried chicken buckets with glasses of Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and other approachable bubblies. 

(NoMad London)

Rustic, the restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola’s California winery, is offering a special fried chicken and caviar dish paired with Coppola Diamond Prosecco for the Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience in May. And the restaurant at London’s NoMad Hotel just launched a late-night special pairing chicken wings seasoned with Aleppo pepper, chili and lime with Franck Pascal Fluence Champagne.

Tim Bodell, executive chef of Rustic, says he enjoys fried chicken with caviar so much, it has become a picnic lunch mainstay for his family.

“Topping your fried chicken with a dollop of caviar or other fish roe adds a pop of salty, umami-laden intensity,” Bodell says. “Personally, I love to bring caviar or trout roe as a topping for cold fried chicken. I bring it on picnics with my family to local Sonoma beaches in the summer. It makes our lunches there feel like a special occasion.”

And even if you don’t feel like splurging on Petrossian or Beluga just to spice up some leftover fried chicken, more inexpensive fish roe options work equally well.

“Trout roe is ideal,” Bodell adds. “It’s milder and not as fishy-tasting as salmon roe, so it won’t dominate the mild flavor of the chicken meat. It also has a sweet-salty balance that, combined with its large pearls and firmer, lightly-cured exterior, means that it pops on the palate with an explosion of flavor. Plus, the roe’s brilliant orange pearls make a stunning presentation.”