Is there any other dish where the chasm between between the poor and the exceptional is so stark? Perhaps. Over there, buckets of limp, disconcertingly cheap meat produced to minimum welfare standards. And over here, but going by the same name, memories of those scrawny, claggy disappointments are banished by the truly good stuff- that coating which shatters under your teeth, meat which nails that sublime intersection of tender flesh and crisp, fragile shell. Silk versus snap.
When it’s good, fried chicken is very, very good. And when it’s Chick’n’Sours, it’s brilliant. Which is why news of their nationwide DIY box launch last week had me poised over the keyboard at 10am, hitting that refresh button with something like prime poultry anxiety. I was one of the lucky ones: they sold out in scant minutes.
Luckily you’ll be forewarned when you go online tomorrow morning.
Because you should. These kits are very, very good indeed. I ate at their Haggerston branch a couple of years ago back, and instantly loved what we had, though my planned review never materialised after the evening took a diverting turn. But it was, and still is, my standard-setter, my benchmark of the subtle magic you end up with when you join the right meat to the right cooking and know how to elevate it with lovely touches. They keep the menu brief but focused on the immaculate execution.
I’m tempted to call them ‘the Bleecker of fried chicken‘ and if you’re a regular reader you’ll know what a compliment that is.
The allegedly for two, though with four tenders, eight wings and two burgers with your three sides, you’ll be going some to polish it off in a single sitting. The thighs are hulking great things probably better suited to peloton than plate.
You don’t even need a deep fryer. You can shallow fry and finish in your oven if you’d prefer. Follow the guidelines carefully- and they’re exercise in clarity- and as the meat comes ready-blanched it’s a matter of minutes to get something impressive.
The results are remarkable. That’s nothing to do with my skill in the kitchen: it is everything to do with these excellent instructions which make brilliant chicken something you can achieve with ease.
This £50 kit amounts to a Greatest Hits compilation, with your choice of two K Pop or The General burgers backed up with hot wings, Kung Pao wings and tenders.
The trio of sides- unless you count wings as sides, in which case you’re my kind of person and let’s have dinner soon- brings clean flavours, ranging from a tickle (the green coleslaw subtly spritzed with miso and ginger) to a slap (Bang Bang Cucumbers loaded with a welter of chillies) via the refreshing watermelon salad with mint, coriander and chilli.
Those tenders come with three dips, all distinctive, all excellent. Gochujang mayo, Kewpie mayo- thick, rich tangy- and sriracha sour cream which lures you in then creeps up on you with stealthy heat: a salvo of salty and sweet, of sour and savoury which bodes very well.
The freshly fried chicken is seasoned with their ‘seaweed crack’, an intensely briny dusting (a tweaked and powdered nori perhaps?) which makes perfect sense. The burgers are bruisers, those bulky thighs dressed with nothing more than pink pickled onions, American cheese, lettuce and the Kewpie in a light bun. It ‘gives’ in the hand just so and delivers everything you’re hoping for: a crunch you can feel in your toes, a plump juicy thigh and a sense that this is precisely what you’ve been missing all this time.
This is ludicrously lovely and achievable chicken. You’ll have to be quick to get one. But I rather think you’ll be glad you did.
You can order here- from 10am Thursdays.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.