Bumpy Korn Dog. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Food to Give a Cluck About

Korean street food hits Eugene

Sai Pituk was going to open her brick-and-mortar restaurant focused on Korean corn dogs and wings in Corvallis. Planning to be near Oregon State University, she had ordered a box of beaver-shaped visors for kid menus, but instead Pituk received a box of duck visors. 

“Talk about foreshadowing,” Pituk says. “It’s funny because like, three or four weeks later, I ended up signing a lease here.” 

Cluckin’ Dog, offering Korean-style corn dogs and chicken wings, is the newest addition to the cluster of restaurants near the University of Oregon. The restaurant, which originally opened a food cart in Albany in 2022, expanded into Eugene in late 2023. 

Cluckin’ Dog is the sixth restaurant opened by Pituk, the chef and owner. She has run fine dining, “white cloth restaurants,” won “Best Restaurant of the Year” by El Paso Style Magazine in 2009, and “Best Chef” by El Paso Times in 2010. And she had a stint on the very short lived Iron Chef: Around the World in 80 Plates (2012).

“I’ve cooked all over the world, different layers or different countries and different techniques, and then applied it to a more simple menu,” Pituk says. “But this is the most fun I’ve had with the menu.”

Korean fried chicken has some differences from usual Buffalo wings or Southern fried chicken. American fried chicken may have a thick crunch or saucy, depending on the variation, but Asian fried chicken is best summed up by Pituk as a “shattered crunch” from being double fried. 

First, the chicken is fried at a lower temperature, then Pituk puts the chicken under a warming light. That allows the chicken wings to rest and have the juices from the meat come out. Then the chicken is fried at a higher temperature. 

With ginger barbecue and gochujang-based sauce options, Pituk experiments with sauces to offer something not offered at typical restaurants. She also has her sights set for additions to the menu, including a Hot Cheeto and buffalo sauce mixture. 

Co-Owners and Siblings, Ake Suebsang and Sai Pituk. Photo by Todd Cooper.

“I’m always playing around with sauces,” Pituk says. “I want to bring sauces that nobody else is making.” 

But it’s the Korean corn dogs that have unlocked a pivotal memory for me of when I first saw the 1995 film A Goofy Movie. The film is about Mickey Mouse’s clumsy friend, Goofy, as a single dad trying to raise his son, Max. Max fears he’s becoming his dad (an existential fear we all have), but one scene planted a seed of unrealistic expectations with cheese. As Max and his friend eat pizza, cheese melts off the side in greasy yet cheesy nirvana. 

One bite in the Angry Korn Dog flashes me to the memory of A Goofy Movie, as the cheese stretches to the farthest my arm will go. The Korean corn dog is filled with mozzarella and then covered with mochi flour dough, dried ramen and dusted with Hot Cheeto powder. 

Cluckin’ Dog’s menu may be on the small side right now, but Pituk is looking to expand it, continuing her mission of offering foods not available locally. It may take some time, but Pituk is working on developing Puka dogs, a hot dog stuffed in Hawaiian bread and sauces, which she expects to be popular for people on the go, especially students. 

“I love to bring new foods to whatever scene that we happen to be on,” Pituk. “It’s like simple food done in a spectacular way.” 

Cluckin’ Dog’s Eugene location is at 1239 Alder Street. Hours are 11 am to 9 pm Monday throughThursday, 11 am to 10 pm Friday, noon to 10 pm Saturday, and noon to 7 pm Sunday. Find on Facebook.