August 28, 2013

New Chicken Eatery Graces Collegetown

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“When we serve customers good chicken, I feel like I’m doing the tango.”

That is the philosophy Ken Lee, the manager of the newly-opened Tango Chicken in Collegetown, offered up for his eatery’s name. Nestled on 104 Dryden Rd., Tango Chicken serves fried, organic chicken dishes — including wings, chicken salads and even Asian-style bento boxes on its menu.

The eatery opened on Aug. 19, replacing former Korean barbeque restaurant Dasan-J. Its opening is just part of a larger shakeup among businesses in Collegetown, with Mexican eatery Mexeo moving down Dryden Road and health food bar CC’s shutting its doors over the summer.

When he developed the concept of Tango Chicken, Lee said he was inspired by a simple thing: passion. Serving chicken mirrors the “very exciting, red, happy” character of the tango, Lee said.

That explains why there is little but chicken on the eatery’s menu, Lee said — adding that he created the menu with quality, not quantity, in mind.

Lee has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years. He said he was drawn to Ithaca’s Collegetown neighborhood partly because of his own tastes and partly because of the existing restaurants he saw in the area.

“When I checked out the Collegetown area, I saw there’s a Japanese restaurant, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Subway, burgers and pizza … but not really a good place for chicken,” Lee said.

Was he disappointed?

“Well, personally, I love chicken,” Lee said.

So Lee opened up Tango Chicken. Although meat-eating Cornell students already have a handful of eateries scattered throughout Ithaca to order from, like Wings Over Ithaca, Razorback BBQ and Buffalo Wild Wings, Lee said Tango Chicken is unique because of its focus on organic ingredients.

“It’s absolutely healthier than traditionally prepared chicken,” Lee said. “We don’t use a normal deep fryer; we use a Chinese-style wok and try to serve a balanced meal.”

All the chickens that source Tango Chicken’s menu items are raised cage-free without antibiotics or growth hormones in their feed or water, according to Lee. Farmers use “natural” pesticides, not synthetic ones, to keep pests and disease under control.

Whether or not organic chickens are healthier than their non-organic counterparts is a matter of debate. Food scientists have debated the health benefits of organic food, with some critics calling the organic movement little more than an expensive fad.

But Lee, like other organic advocates, said he believes “organic chicken provides the best taste.”

The eatery has already drawn in dozens of students since its opening, Lee added.

“People keep coming back. They love it,” he said.

Akane Otani can be reached at [email protected] and at

Original Author: Akane Otani