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Losing my religion (fried chicken)

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Let me start by saying that I love fried chicken. nothing beats a light crackly, crunchy crust and moist juicy meat with that brine-y flavor. Yet, I've had trouble finding anything that makes me happy in the city.

Maroon's in chelsea is pretty good. Could've been slightly moister as i think they use pretty large pieces which means the breat piece always gets a bit dry.

Dirty Bird should be a dirty word. The crust falls off of the chicken and is flavorless. The meat itself is mediocre. And it's not cheap for a take-out type place.

I just came back from Rack and Soul. I wanted to like this place. Less than 4 minutes after ordering the fried chicken, the meal came out. That struck me as odd. My wife, who is less confrontational than I, asked me to not say anything. So we proceded to eat barely warm, not crispy chicken that had clearly been sitting around for awhile. I suppose its our fault for not saying anything, but i find it ridiculous that a place known for fried chicken would not make everything fresh.

In fact, i'd say the best "Fried" chicken i've had in the city is from Tebaya in chelsea. Am i crazy? and am I missing anywhere else? I wanted to go to blue smoke tonight for their chicken, but i have a hard time paying over 20 bucks for fried chicken. Looking for someone to give me hope again!

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  1. Have you tried some of the places up in Harlem? I'm no fried chicken expert by any means, but I had some great chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth's. There seems to be an ongoing debate between there and some of the other harlem soul food restaurants. Charles' is also rumored to be pretty good, but I haven't made it there yet and have heard some good things about Miss Mamie's & Miss Maude's. All I hear about Sylvia's is that it's touristy and not what it used to be, but again, this is only what I've heard through others.

    It's a trek to get there, but when I'm craving good fried chicken that's Amy Ruth's is the first place I'd head.

    1. interesting... rack and soul is by charles as well. and after the disappointment today, i'm not likely to try another one of his establishments. anyone else try amy ruth's? Might be worth the try. Although, morningside heights is already a trek so not sure i'm going to go all the way up to harlem unless there's an overwhelming consensus that it is worth trying.

      1. Amy Ruth's has great fried chicken. Here's one thread, but there are many others: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/230425 It's crisp, fresh, hot, and the chicken is great.
        (And I'd argue that getting to Harlem is a lot easier than getting to Morningside Heights. Amy Ruth's is right off the 2/3 trains).

        There was a post by Jim Leff a couple months ago about Charles and his places. It seems that there are multiple locations and the strategy to finding great chicken is magically ending up where Charles himself is cooking: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34168...

        1 Reply
        1. re: rose water

          Unfortunately, I think that's exactly correct. We brought a party to Rack & Soul a month or so after it opened and had what I'd be overstating to say was a lousy meal. There was leftover fried chicken (8 or so CH and other food board members & we only had one order) said it all. And, since a # of us are Charles' fans, we were all certain that he was nowhere to be found on premises. Then, others that I respect went there and Charles was doing the chicken in the kitchen: they all loved the food.

          I never liked Bayou (on Lenox off 125th St) and the owner of that place is the main force (I think) behind R&S. It's uneven & too many people are reporting vastly different experiences for me to try again. However, even when Charles isnt there, hardly anyone has had a bad experience at Charles' original place off Douglass. Go there and check it out.

        2. Yes, it's pricey but the fried chicken is worth it at Blue Smoke. It's always juicy and has never disappointed. What's disappointing is the bbq. What you should not miss is the short rib special they have on Wed and what ever dessert special they have is always delicious.

          Bon Bon Chicken is a Korean fried chicken chain that is suppose to be tasty. They just opened a location in Ktown.

          1. I have mixed feelings about the new Korean fried chicken shops. The flavor is great but the prices are a little high and the service needs to improve. I suspect that the fried chicken chains in Korea don't charge nearly as much as they do in New York. I paid $13.95 for a plate of wings the other day!

            4 Replies
            1. re: buddhadrinksfanta

              I was at Bon Chon, 5th ave btwn 31st and 32nd, last week and thought the chicken was outstanding. The service definitely was spotty and they seemed to get overwhelmed easily. My chicken took about 45 minutes. It was slightly pricey at $14 for a small but there are enough wings and drumsticks to serve two. If you are looking for southern fried chicken with a crispy flour coating, this might not hit the spot though.

              1. re: ESNY

                nice reply, i was going to ask what people think about the new korean fried chicken versus the more-traditional southern fried chicken. i too love fried chicken but have yet to encounter the korean-style in my day to day. anyone know of a korean place that has it in brooklyn?

                1. re: ben61820

                  There are very few (if any) Korean restaurants in Brooklyn, because there are no Korean neighborhoods to support them.

                2. re: ESNY

                  Was at Bon Chon last week as well, with similar experience. My impression was that I was eating really good bar food fried chicken, but it was a far cry from great southern fried chicken.

              2. The NYT 2 weeks ago had an article on Korean fried chicken, which they said was crisypy & moist. I'm dying to try it myself. A few places were recommended, one being on W. 32nd St. I agree with FattyDumplin that Dirty Bird sucks. $10 for 3 tiny pieces of tasteless & greasy chicken. Are you kiddin' me? Who were the assholes who kept recommending this place? What a ripoff!!!

                4 Replies
                1. re: pinkylechat

                  Dirty Bird was one of the most thoroughly bad eating experiences I've had in a long time. Nothing was good.

                  If you jump on the 7 train from Manhattan you can get to Unidentified Flying Chicken (UFC) in 20 minutes for great Korean Fried Chicken in Jackson Heights.

                  1. re: SunnysideUp

                    Very interesting. This place gets consistently negative reviews here, but a formerly vegetarian friend of mine was there recently and loved it. He said the batter flavor and the chicken itself were great. I hypothesize that either 1) he hasn't had any chicken in a while and therefore particularly enjoyed this, or 2) he was lucky. I guess option three is that they've improved.

                    1. re: SunnysideUp

                      Not just the 7, but the E,F,G,R, and V trains stop there too for anyone interested

                      1. re: jza1218

                        That's right! How 7centric of me. UFC is conveniently located near the very busy 74th St/Roosevelt stop.

                  2. dirty bird - feh! horrible and overpriced.

                    not in the city, but pies & thighs (s.5 & kent, kind of under the wmsburg bridge) makes terrific fried chicken.

                    1. Popeye's, admit folks -- if its fresh, its good!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: deepyarn

                        and my favorite!!!!

                      2. love popeyes. but while its crispy, it doesn't quite have the crunch that i'm looking for. maybe the chicken i'm looking for only exists in a dream. i know this may be heresy, but when every so often i catch paula deen making pan fried chicken. it looks awesome. that's what i would love to find in the city. i thought rack and soul would be like that, but it wasn't close.

                        1. Might want to try the chicken at Chicory in Bklyn, but I would eat in (the place is high class take out for the well-heeled neighborhood) as it will lose something in the traveling. Search Outer Boroughs and you'll find some threads on their bird

                          1. If your in the East Village - stop by Mama's on 3rd St. bet. Ave. A and B for some good fried chicken with two sides of your choice (mac and roasted veggies - lots of them- are pretty good)...a lot of food and a very good deal for around 10 bucks.

                            1. It is in a different price league,but the fried chicken at Blue Ribbon Brasserie is very good. It's served with honey on the side. Non fried, insanely good Peruvian style bird: Pardo's on 7th Ave.

                              1. Its out on Long Island, but IMO, nothing beats Zorn's. Go to the original one in Bethpage on Hemptstead Turnpike right off of the 135 (Seaford - Oyster Bay Expressway). They used to have the little chicken farm out back, but that's gone now. Man, everytime I go to visit my parents its either All American or Zorns.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: elecsheep9

                                  wow when i grew up on Li my parents always did takeout from Zorns on many Sundays. Havent thought of that place in many years. havent been there in probably over 20 years. and i do recall the chicken farm.

                                2. Maybe it's because I only had it once, but I found the fried chicken at Pollo Campero to be quite good. Nicely spiced and crisp without a thick batter. Unfortunately the one I went to (Sunset Park) closed, but supposedly there is one in Corona, NY.

                                  1. I think you may want to try Korean ROTTISSERIE chicken (NOT bon chon chicken). Unlike bon chon chicken which is flavored with garlic and whatnot, this traditional Korean rotisserie chicken is simply chicken with paper-thin but CRISPY skin, with juicy meat inside. I so prefer this to any flavored chicken where the flavors overwhelm the chicken and is full of msg. I also am guessing that this is much healthier as it is much less oily.

                                    You can find it at Baden Baden NY in Ktown, and a few other places in Ktown in Manhattan and in Flushing (and New Jersey).

                                    1. Blue Ribbon in Soho is pretty good, best I've found in the city so far. Bon Bon Chicken is good, but a different take on fried chicken.

                                      1. I had great fried Chicken at Copeland's on 145th.

                                        1. is bon bon chicken the same style as baden baden in k-town? by that, i mean the rotisserie then friend chicken? I tried it last week but wasn't impressed. the whole concept just doesn't click with me. not sure what it is. maybe i wish it had a nice crust or it was a little dry or something. will say that i enjoyed pinkberry afterwards. sorry for the tangent. wasn't a huge fan at first, but the sour yogurty taste is addictive...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: FattyDumplin

                                            i tried bonchon last week and loved it. 4 very hungry guys and myself shared two orders of drumsticks and we were stuffed! bonchon is different from baden baden. i love them both in very different ways. bonchon is fried but w/out all the crispy breading exterior.
                                            service is horrible and slow. i would recommend going there BEFORE you are hungry. lol.
                                            but i did also enjoy pinkberry afterwards. i'm an addict. infact, i think i'm going there tonight.

                                          2. I know this will sound dubious, but you should try the fried chicken at Big Nick's Burger joint at 77th and Broadway (but request mashed potatoes intead of the fries it normally comes with). It is addictive -- crispy, juicy, and delicious. Every time I order it, people at adjoining tables wind up ordering it too.

                                            By the way, I completely agree about Dirty Bird; sour, greasy and bad (and considering that it's on the same block as my favorite restaurant in NY - Crispo - there's absolutely no reason ever to eat there). In Rack 'N Soul's defense, I thought the barbecued chicken was unusually flavorful, tender and moist.