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San Francisco Dish of the Month July 2012: Asian Fried Chicken

This is the thread for the first San Francisco Bay Area Dish of the Month. This month the focus is Asian Fried Chicken.

As a few hounds have correctly pointed out, this is more of a "dish category" than a specific dish, since it might include any number of Asian fried chicken dishes: Japanese kara-age, Korean fried chicken, Indonesian ayam goreng, etc.

The goal is to collectively try as many versions of Asian fried chicken as possible during the month of July! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos of the best Asian fried chicken you can find!

Link to the July voting thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/856242

Link to the July nomination thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855771

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  1. Has anyone spotted inchee kabin in the Bay Area? There's a recipe for this Malaysian fried chicken dish in Anya Von Bremzen's "Terrific Pacific Cookbook" that's delicious, but the preparation is laborious enough to make it worthwhile to seek outside the home. Her recipe involves marinating the chicken for two days in in curry powder, soy sauce, ginger juice, and coconut milk, drying it, coating in all-purpose and rice flour and then deep frying.

    Until that happens... I embarked on my first fried chicken dish tonight: the karaage chicken at Himawari in San Mateo. I'm not sure I've ever had or ever will have karaage chicken that I'll enjoy ... the flavor and consistency of this dish just isn't my thing. My personal preferences aside, they do a pretty good job. The pieces were all dark meat and very juicy. I'd rate the flavor of the chicken higher than most karaage I've had before and the consistency less leathery than is typical.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler

      Wonderful boneless fried chicken bahn mi at newish Cafe Bunn Mi, Clement between 5th and 6th Ave,

      1. re: hyperbowler

        Inche kabin is a Penang-Nyonya dish - very diificult to find even in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur (which are relatively close to Penang), let alone SF Bay Area. I'd never seen it in the Bay Area nor anywhere in the US.

        1. re: klyeoh

          That's a real shame. Even using low quality chicken, Von Bremzen's recipe easily bests 98% of the fried chicken in the Bay Area. A local food truck would make bank with this stuff--- I could only imagine how awesome this dish must be in Penang.

          1. re: hyperbowler

            I hope you don't think Anya von Bremzen is the authority on Nyonya cuisine Inche Kabin. I had no idea who she was until I googled the name - ah, a Russian woman.

            1. re: huiray

              Oh yeah, I wasn't suggesting she's an authority, just the author of a book with a single recipe for the dish. If you know of recipes from someone who is an authority, I'd gladly test it out and post it on the Home Cooking boards!

      2. I made it to Indo Cafe in Saratoga on Tuesday, and had some great Indonesian fried chicken. Here's a link to my full post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/856903

        And here's the paragraph about the fried chicken (ayam goreng kuning):

        "The fried chicken is ayam goreng kuning (yellow fried chicken), and it's slow cooked in liquid ahead of time, and refrigerated....then fried in a small deep-fryer when you order The skin was crispy, meat was tender (they only had thigh pieces), and had a slight flavor of coconut and some spices. Awesome."

        I posted a picture in the other post, too.

        This place was a great find, and I only went because of this project. Looking forward to see what other great versions of fried chicken we can discover!

        Dave MP

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dave MP

          I'm re-posting my picture here, so the various fried chicken pictures all appear in this thread!

        2. I had the Korean Fried Chicken at FUSEBox in West Oakland and was really impressed. The skin was shatteringly crisp, like I like it and the sauce was a good balance. It was not as sweet and gloopy as sauces I've had in the past, though it isn't very spicy either. I'd prefer a spicier option, but maybe the low spice let the other umami and possibly smoky flavors show through better. I'll definitely be back.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ...tm...

            2nd on shatteringly crispy skin at FUSEBox. perfectly cooked and juicy.

            listed on the menu as "Spicy", like tm's, these were not spicy at all.

            very friendly service, though the smiling young waitress nodded and said yes when i asked whether my delivered main dish was pork belly. nope.

          2. I've had the unsauced deep fried chicken and the soy sauce deep fried chicken at OB Town, Korean Chicken Bistro, before and not been all that impressed. I decided to give them another shot, this time going the saucy route.

            The number 9, the Yang Nyum chicken, was really good. It consisted of a mix of bone-in and boneless pieces of chicken, each of which was covered in a fairly chunky batter and a sweet and spicy sauce. The meat is very tender and juicy, but between the batter and sauce, don't expect to taste the meat itself. I prefer the more complex sauce and satisfying crunch of the KFC at Da Sung Sa, but OB's superior service and atmosphere make it a nice late night option.

            Apparently the #9 uses a mixture of the extra spicy sauce used for #11 and the soy garlic sauce of the #12 Gan Jang chicken. I'd be curious to see how the full force #11 would taste.

            1. PSA: Today, July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day.

              Also International Kissing Day, so go smooch some fried chicken.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                National Fried Chicken Day overlaps with the Dish of the Month theme? That's a funny coincidence. I suspect fowl play.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  smooching a hot chick will get you blisters.

                  1. re: shanghaikid

                    Spoken with the voice of experience, sounds like. :)

                    So which hot chick did you smooch for this month's project?

                2. Perhaps you should also define what you have in mind when you say “Asian”?

                  Otherwise, I think I would also be looking forwards to reading about stuff like great Chicken 65, Masala Fried Chicken, Kizarmis Citir Tavuk, Tavuk Kanat Kizartmasi, Chicken Manchurian, Chicken Charga, Persian Fried Chicken, etc etc. and that’s just scratching the surface of possibilities!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: huiray

                    My opinion is that people should interpret the dish category however they'd like! There's plenty of room for creativity, and I personally would love to hear about great versions of Indian or Persian fried chicken.

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      Great! Let us look forwards then to reading about renditions of pan-Asian (as a continent) fried chicken as found in the SF area.

                      ETA: I think it would also be very useful and informative for folks to discuss the differences and/or similarities between different types of "fried chicken" - in a similar vein to what was done on this thread about "Laksa": http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839207 I for one would also be interested in reading what folks think about what they "expected" versus what it was "supposed to taste like" from a native chef's viewpoint (if accessible) when they ate the stuff - or if it was different/same as some variation or other of USAmerican fried chicken, Southern or MidWestern or whatever!

                    2. re: huiray

                      You're gonna like my picks. Up to number 5 as of today. Can't upload photos from mobile and haven't had time to sit down with my laptop.

                      1. I was at Golden Era this weekend (Vegan Vietnamese in the Tenderloin), and sampled the "drumsticks" - fried "chicken" served with a spicy ketchup. The chicken is fake meat, which had a nice stringy consistency..and the "bone" was made of sugarcane, which I enjoyed chewing on and sucking out the sweet juice. The "skin" was crispy with a light breading. I didn't like the ketchup, but did enjoy dipping the "chicken" in the sauce that came with our banh xeo. More here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857760

                        I realize that this dish might be pushing the definition of "Asian fried chicken" but I couldn't resist!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Dave MP

                          You crack me up, what a great way to think outside the (chicken) box! When the month is out, I'd be interested to hear if you'd eaten and chicken dishes that were less chicken like than this one.

                          1. re: hyperbowler

                            I'd call it "thinking outside the bucket." Anyway, a great thing to add to the discussion!

                          2. re: Dave MP

                            I really enjoy these types of vegan drumsticks. I haven't sampled them up in SF, but I will be sure to do so now that you've given the heads up. Thanks!

                          3. My absolute favorite fried chicken is from the ArKi Truck and it happens to have an Asian flair to it! Perfectly crispy skin, with a darker than normal color to it. Extremely juicy and flavorful! I can't figure out the seasonings, but it's definitely Asian in it's DNA. What's cool about it too is when I get the chicken and donut combo there, the sweetness from the donut melds with the chicken causing this great melding of contrasting savory/sweet flavors. Delicious! I caught them in Marin at the OTG event in Larkspur, but I think they're usually downtown on Battery St a couple of times a week too and elsewhere in the Bay Area if you want to check them out.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: randawg

                              Interesting. It seems they *are* serving "Asian"-Western (fusion?/influnced?) food. http://roaminghunger.com/arki-food-truck

                              Schedule: http://arkitruck.com/

                              Reminds me of those "Korean tacos" peddled from food trucks here and there, even in Indianapolis for the last few years.

                              1. re: huiray

                                Yeah, I don't know if I'd call it fusion in a traditional sense (is that an oxymoron?). I've tried a couple of their sandwiches too and I like the flavors, but it didn't strike me as a deliberate fusion. IMO, they seem to be putting together ingredients and combos that complement one another and above else, tastes good. Bottom line is, they fry up some darn good chicken!!

                                1. re: randawg

                                  A counterpoint to the Arki truck: I caught them near the end of their shift today for a quick snack. $3.50 per piece, $3 per piece for 2 or more pieces. I ordered one thigh that was very juicy, but the skin was far more oil-saturated bready than it was crispy. I did not bother finishing the skin, which speaks to how much of an issue the texture posed. The seasonings are interesting, but I also found it a bit undersalted. This was partially alleviated by the spicy aioli, which I enjoyed: I didn't detect garlic, but it tastes like a mayo-y version of the sweet chili sauces served with fried chicken in Thai places like Lers Ros

                                  The issue with the skin could have been a function of ordering at 2 pm. I imagine there's not much customer flow at that point as they were probably getting close to leaving. I may give them another shot if I can be assured I'm not getting a piece that was sitting around - it will otherwise be very difficult for them to compete for my business with a walk up to Capital for their chicken wings.

                                  1. re: randawg

                                    they're back on Battery tomorrow - i'm going to try it. everytime i've seen them before I've already eaten lunch or am on my way to meet someone for lunch elsewhere.

                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      damn. co-worker wants to go to lunch but doesn't want to do a truck. phooey. oh well, next week.

                                  2. I scoped out a new Japanese restaurant in San Mateo tonight, Kitcho on 2nd Ave, and lucked into seeing fried chicken wings on the menu. As you can see in the picture below, the meat is separated from the bone on one side, and scraped up to maximize the amount of meat that encounters the hot oil. I'm not sure I've had this before, but I've seen it referred to as "chicken lollipops." If anyone knows the history or anything about this style, do chime in. If it's even Japanese in origin, is there a Japanese name for it?

                                    Anyway, the "lollipopping" is a great idea. The meat and skin are evenly cooked and the dark color pairs with a very satisfying crunch. Another benefit is that don't have to worry about biting into a hidden pool of oil.

                                    This was definitely my kind of fried chicken--- it's greaseless and identifiably poultry. It could be way off, but it tastes like it's been marinated in mirin or sake. There's a subtle dusting of Shichimi togarashi, just enough to bring out the flavor of the chicken.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                      the crispy fried wing sounds like Tebasaki, which is twice fried similar to Korean Fried Chicken to give it a really crispy skin.

                                      i don't think i've seen it "lolipopped" like that so could be completely off, lol!

                                      1. re: hyperbowler

                                        Don't know the origin of lollipopping method, but will say that when I was a kid, the Chinese-American restaurants used to serve fried wings that way. Both the drummettes and the wing joints would be pushed into a ball of meat on the end of the bone.

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          I just came across a recipe for chicken lollipops in Rhoda Yee's Dim Sum (1977). She calls them "Jow Nn Heung Gai" and flavors them with five spice powder.

                                          1. re: hyperbowler

                                            Do you mean "炸五香雞"? (Cantonese Yale: ja3 ng5 heung1 gai1)

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              Thanks! Those characters seem to match her handwriting (the third character takes a bit of imagination, but could work). Google just translated that as "Fried spiced chicken" for me. Some description!

                                      2. I ate at Shin Toe Bul Yi tonight and had the Korean fried chicken, which I hadn't had in many years. The platter of chicken is quite large for the price (although I can't remember if it's $11.99 or $13.99 or something else?) The skin is very crispy, and it's served piping hot. Not a ton of flavor in the batter, and not overly salty, but still quite good. The meat inside was moist. It's a good cool-weather food, which is nice because it was cold out in the Sunset this evening.

                                        We also had the bulgogi, which was good (if a bit standard) and a seafood casserole (number 2 on the menu) which was a bit disappointing, as it was a bit bland and boring. Panchan were excellent, and they were happy to replenish, especially the kimchee which I particularly like here. We were given a plate of fish as a complimentary appetizer too...I think maybe mackerel? It was salty and bony and pretty good, but not as good as the complimentary tofu stew I got last time I went. I think maybe they don't give complimentary stew when you have also ordered stew? On my previous visit a few weeks ago, we had the tteokbokki which are very good here, though not very spicy, and also the bibimbap, which was great too.

                                        With all the panchan and rice, this meal ends up being a good value, especially if you share the fried chicken and some other items.

                                        For dessert, we went to Marco Polo, which is conveniently close by, and were able to sample almost half of the flavors. Favorites included red bean and mango, but I also liked the taro and the durian and the pistachio. I didn't really like the soursop. Really nice texture to this gelato!(especially the mango). I need to get back here more often.

                                        Shin Toe Bul Yi and Marco Polo Gelato are both on Taraval in San Francisco (at 30th ave and 25th ave respectively)

                                        1. I was really happy with the sauced spicy chicken wings at Dan Sung Sa a few weeks ago, so I decided to try out unsauced wings at Kang Tong Degi last night. These places both have the same owners, so I figured the chicken front would be comparable.

                                          Seeing the wings without the sauce confirmed one thing for sure-- at both places, these wings are monstrous, bigger than anything I've gotten in a restaurant. They come out juicy, have a crunchy skin, and one even have a layer of fat underneath the skin, kind of like duck.

                                          According to the server, they are dusted with some kind of powder mixture and deep fried a single time. The seasoning is very mild, had flecks of black pepper, and tastes of white pepper. It's solid, but very basic. The non-sauced fried chicken at Toyose is leagues better.

                                          Dipping the wings in a side of sauce makes it more interesting, but I think having the kitchen sauce them is the way to go. This morning, the cold non-sauced chicken made for a greasy and unappetizing breakfast. Compare that to their sauce version, which was unbelievably tasty and had a great crunch when I ate it the next morning. All things considered, I think their sauce is largely responsible for me liking their fried chicken so much.

                                          1. Holy Moly Cafe & Lounge is a Korean Boon-shik / Soju Bang type place that occupies what used to be an Internet Cafe next to Koryo Korean BBQ in the Koryo Plaza on Telegraph in Oakland.

                                            They have Signature (no sauce), Soy Garlic, and Spicy fried chicken. During Happy Hour (ends @ 8pm, can't remember when it starts) it's 30% off Fried Chicken & bottles of soju for $5 (reg. $8.95).

                                            I got a small wing/drum combo (4 wings, 2 drumsticks) with half & half soy garlic & spicy. You can also get all wings (8 for the order) or all drums (4 for the order) for the same price of $8.95 (pre-discount)

                                            The wings have a Southern Fried Chicken level of batter so less than current OB (way too heavy, imo) and significantly more than FUSEBox / Dan Sung Sa / Kang Tong Degi's lightly dusted (more traditional) KFC.

                                            Crispy crust, but not the shatter of FUSE. The pieces had been sliced through the skin & meat (maybe better seen in 2nd pic). Nicely cooked and juicy meat.

                                            Too much sauce for me.

                                            You can see the pool of the soy garlic in the 2nd pic. The spicy sauce had a gochujang base with chopped garlic visible. This was really thick and goopy and looked to be spooned on and spread (much less sauce on the underside of the pieces). The spicy had a medium level of spiciness and was really messy to eat.

                                            I'd go back and ask for the sauce on the side.


                                            Holy Moly Cafe & Lounge
                                            4390 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: drewskiSF

                                              Just read thru this whole thread, and have to co-sign about Holy Moly (especially if you can get the happy hour pricing on food and drink). Happy hour is actually a good time to go if you're not an early 20-something Korean (which comprises their clientele later in the evening). You'll have the run of the place to yourself typically, so "bring the party", and service is fine (i.e.not intrusive but not indifferent). If you like watching K-pop videos in large amounts, you'll be in heaven...... :-)

                                            2. Was at Bowl'd with the office gang yesterday and we had the fried chicken. It was okay; a bit sweeter than I like.

                                              1. Dateline: July 2, 2012

                                                Peacock Restaurant in Mountain View offered up a range of Indian-style fried chicken dishes. Chicken 65, dyed red, was only average ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_65 ). The chicken lollipops made with drummettes and served with a deliciously intriguing dipping sauce fared better. Best was the chicken masakkalli (sic) named after a popular song from the Bollywood movie, Delhi-6 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masakali ).

                                                My bro returned on the 4th of July ordering the chicken Manchurian which he recommends as a spicier, less goopy version of sweet & sour made with moister and higher quality halal chicken. He also noted that the chicken lollipops were smaller on this outing and somewhat dried out. A description of Manchurian chicken in the Desi Chinese genre is found on this wiki page,
                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_C... .

                                                Chicken 65, Chicken Masakkalli, and Chicken Manchurian were variants on a theme, starting with Chinese technique of marinating, battering, and deep-frying the cubes of boneless meat. Where they diverge is in the robust Indian spices used to finish. From the deep-fryer, the cubes of chicken were toss-cooked in seasonings that soak into the battered coating for a dry sauce. Another dish that's also made this way is Chilli Chicken, available on Peacock's menu but we did not try it. While originating in the Indian Chinese playbook, it's a break out performer and found on many restaurant menus. Maybe someone else will try it and report back.

                                                More detailed descriptions here,

                                                Some other styles of fried chicken from the South Asian region include Pakistan's chicken charga and Nepal's chara tareko.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                  Great report, both this one and the more detailed one. Nice to read about the particulars and differences in the preps.

                                                  Heh - here's that S&D routine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7lBUU...

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    Thanks for finding the video. I must have asked our waiter to repeat Masakali about three times to get the pronunciation. So much easier to listen to the youtube!

                                                    Glad you're tracking this thread, as I may need help on some Cantonese romanization since I have no idea how to.

                                                2. Melanie reminded me to post here about the crispy chicken i had last week at Rice Broker:


                                                  1. Our favorite Asian fried chicken dish is the fried chicken bones at Sai Jai Thai. It's a challenge to eat but the salty, crispy bits are worth the amount of work, especially when you get the crunchy skin parts. For those not up to the challenge, you can also order the fried salty 1/2 chicken, it's quite as tasty just not as fun.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: M_and_H

                                                      Could you please elaborate on the fried chicken bones? I checked an online menu and it's described as "deep-fried marinated chicken bone served with sai jai thai hot sauce". Is the base a meaty chicken skeleton after the flesh has been fileted off for other uses?


                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        That's pretty much it. Bones with little bits of meat (maybe after being taken for other dishes), lightly battered and deep fried. Sinfully delicious, but probably best enjoyed in the privacy of home rather then in front of strangers. Don't usually need the hot sauce.

                                                        1. re: M_and_H

                                                          Interesting, thank you. I'll have to try it ... once I feel like eating fried chicken again after last month's marathon.

                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            LOL. I definitely need a breather too. I had a "what was I thinking?" moment after placing an order for some KFC at Ohgane this month. Luckily, when they arrived, their lack of meat and General's Chicken like flavor selected them out from having me finish them.

                                                            1. re: hyperbowler

                                                              +1 on the fried chicken bones.
                                                              Looks like I missed the train, but just wanted to give a shout out to the kfc at mom's tofu house in south sf, and the crispy fried chicken (油淋鸡) from silver house in San Mateo.

                                                              1. re: Crunchyapple

                                                                Thanks for more suggestions.

                                                                Broke my fried chicken fast yesterday with some Cajun wings then Chongqing chicken.

                                                    2. Dateline: July 5, 2012

                                                      Eight years after an initial visit to Queen House in Mountain View, I was back because of the deep fried chicken leg with garlic sauce that it's known for. Having tasted it now, I'm not sure why Queen House should have that reputation. Forgot to ask if this prep is considered Taiwanese or ??, anyone know? More here,

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        That looks really good. Is the sauce sweet or more savory?

                                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                                          Don't be deceived by appearances, it's not good.

                                                          The sauce is slightly sweet, but not nearly as sweet as a Shanghainese brown sauce would be. Mostly the sauce is blah.

                                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          I don't know if this particular prep at QH is Taiwanese or not, but the name for it (apparently menu item#92 from your photo) is described as "油淋雞" [Yale: yau4 lam4 gai1] - which can be simply said to be "oil soaked (or drenched) chicken". That's a kind of generic description which is applied, often with various additional descriptive tags, to varying kinds of chicken dishes which have an oil-based or oily coating or sauce poured over it or applied over it.

                                                          Here are two (amongst various) recipes for "油淋雞", roughly translated using google:

                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                            It's just dawned on me that this may be what's often translated as "oil-dripped chicken" on Chinese menus. That's what Pei-Mei called it in her cookbook.

                                                            I'm wondering how that differs from ja ji gai (Cantonese).

                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                              This post has an example of ja ji gai (but consumed in May, before the start of this run).

                                                              And this is what it looks like. I believe its partially cooked by steaming and then deep-fried.

                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                Maybe the difference is probably that ja ji gai is deep-fried and no additional sauce is poured on it after the frying, whereas yau lam gai is pan-fried (?) then has more sauce placed on it? (and ja ji gai is usually accompanied by the spiced salt - as seen in your pic of it)

                                                          2. I finally have a small contribution to the July DOTM fest in the form of Korean Chinese style dry fried chicken winga. This week I revisited San Tung for the first time in about 2 years and inhaled an order of the dry fried chicken wings. I had not been in a while because I felt that the quality had dropped off, but I have to say that these wings were top notch. Very juicy, a nicely crispy crust, and the sauce they had been tossed with seemed (happily) a little less sweet than I recalled. Still not much in the way of heat to them, despite their being plenty of peppers scattered on the plate. I have to say that these are near the top of my personal wing list. The combination of sweetness, garlic, a little pepper, and something tangy combined with the crispy exterior really works for me.

                                                            Then today my husband brought home a few wings from his order of So's (a sister to San Tung) dry fried wings. Though these had traveled from San Francisco to Alameda, and therefore wasn't a truly fair comparison, the wings were still quite crispy, and I liked the less sweet, more black peppery flavor of these. Price wise these wings take the lead, at something like $6.50 for an order (which I think they call an appetizer, but is a large portion), versus $10.50 for the entree size order at San Tung. I would call the portion size similar. These have less of an overall candy effect, which I really like.

                                                            Though the wings are similar, I think it is probably more a matter of taste whether one prefers the So wings to San Tung's than really a situation where one could be declared a "winner" over the other.. More garlic and pepper in the So's, a little more sweetness to the San Tung ones.

                                                            1010 Bryant St. at 8th
                                                            SF, CA 94103

                                                            San Tung
                                                            1031 Irving St. at 11th
                                                            SF, CA 94122

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jillyju

                                                              Just had So against last night as a result of this. I agree, they are pretty comparable to to San Tung. Hard to say on value, because I think 8 wings cost 6:50 and So and maybe you get more at San Tung?

                                                              Also forgot to mention Shanghai House in the Outer Richmond has wings similar to So and Shanghai. They're a good value. I didn't realize I've had so many Fried Asian Chicken Wings before...

                                                            2. Friday's excursion to Walnut Creek and the newly opened Sichuan House turned up an excellent version of ChongQing la zi ji or ChongQing-style chili chicken. With the number of dried red chilis used in this dish, some wags have quipped that it's actually chili with a little bit of chicken. More details in this post,

                                                              With many reports on the Indian or Korean versions of Chinese fried chicken, I wanted to share an example made by a Chinese chef that demonstrates the technique of marinating, deep-frying, then tossing with sauce. Here's Fuchsia Dunlop on this Sichuan dish,

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                Thanks for pointing out the name and some background for this dish. I've enjoyed it at Spices in Oakland as Chicken Wings w/ Explosive Chili Pepper and have read recent posts about it at Z & Y as Chicken With Explosive Chili Pepper. It looks like you've mentioned this dish in previous posts. Do you have a favorite place for it, or is the preparation generally the same?

                                                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                  The chicken can be boneless as well as prepared on the bone. Many versions shallow-fry or saute the wings instead of deep-frying them. That yields chewier, less juicy meat, but the seasonings tend to soak in more. They will also vary by the amount of peppercorns, dry chili pods and/or sugar applied. The version at Sichuan House is a touch sweeter than others but the other flavor elements were quite intense as well and held the sweetness in check.

                                                                  I remember a few years ago eating at China Village in Albany with a friend and noticing a change in the prep of this dish. Mr. Yao asked me how I liked it, and I pointed out the differences to him. His new chef was deep-frying instead of shallow-frying and Mr. Yao had decided that he and his customers seemed to like it better. In the timeline of China Village chefs, that might have been about the time that Chef Zhang was at CV so maybe I've had his version prior to Sichuan House.

                                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                    As my last entry for this months theme, I had the chicken with explosive chilis at Z&Y, a dish mentioned a lot on chowhound. It did not disappoint.

                                                                    The visible ingredients are minimal: boneless chicken, green onions, a few scant batter fried green onion tips, and countless whole dried red chilis. The chicken is fantastic. The meat is the juiciest of all the fried chicken I've had this month--- it was clearly marinated and had a subtle wine flavor. The batter is thin, yet sturdy and crunchy. Unlike the version of this dish I had at Crouching Tiger, this dish isn't about the heat.The red peppers are slightly charred and primarily give their flavor rather than their heat to the chicken. I'm not sure it even had any sichuan peppercorns in it. The fried green onion tops are a nice little treat of you can find them amidst the dried red peppers.

                                                                2. I really like the garlic fried chicken wings at Mr. Fong's BBQ and Noodles in the King Plaza Shopping Center in Daly City. This is the small home-style restaurant in the same center as the Tai Wu/Mr. Fong's larger and fancier dim sum and seafood restaurant.

                                                                  These wings are fried and then glazed in a delicious sauce that's similar to but darker and more caramel-like than San Tung's. John and I like these wings a little better than San Tung's and So's (though I wouldn't ever refuse wings from either of those places -- I like them both a lot!)

                                                                  Mr. Fong's BBQ is at 950 King Dr. #101 (King Plaza), Daly City, CA 94015
                                                                  Telephone: (650) 878-8882


                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                                                                    Thanks for the tip! I work at City College, so it would be easy to swing south and check it out.

                                                                  2. We ordered takeout from Aria today, a new Korean place in the Tenderloin. Here's a picture of the chicken, which I described more in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/860232

                                                                    Probably wouldn't rush back for the chicken, but some of the other dishes (bibimbap and tteokboki) are worth a try if you're in the neighborhood!

                                                                    Aria Korean Snack Bar
                                                                    932 Larkin St @Post
                                                                    San Francisco

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                                                      It was pretty decent, not amazing. Better than Kukje market in Daly City and although a slightly different style, I liked it comparably to Toyose or Shin Toe Bul Yi.

                                                                      I don't know about anyone else, but I'm really disappointed that Red Wing's closed on Geary. They actually had really good chicken and what I thought at a decent price.

                                                                      San Tung def has best Asian fried chicken though. Mouth watering just thinking about it. The right sized wings, good amount of smokiness, sweetness, and spice.

                                                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                                                        I definitely concur with Dave about the side dishes stealing the show for this takeout lunch. Agreed that this seems like a nice neighborhood option but I probably wouldn't travel crosstown for the food. I liked the red sauce better than the soy-y sauce, but I don't know what either of them was made of. The strongest thought I had from the meal was, "I want to make my own kimchi." That doesn't really say much about the fried chicken, though. Or maybe it does.

                                                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                                                          tried the KFC here as well. they use boneless thigh meat, not bone in wings. meat was semimoist, not a lot of flavor but had a little bit. no doubt the sweet & sour version would have more taste.
                                                                          went for the regular. unlike other korean places, chicken cooked only once. chicken tasted too oily, oil a bit rancid. would pass next time.

                                                                          Cafe V in berkeley, just 10 days young, doesn't carry wings anymore.

                                                                        2. Dateline: July 6, 2012, National Fried Chicken Day

                                                                          I celebrated National Fried Chicken Day (and National Hot Dog Month) at Dan Sung Sa. Details of the meal here, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6690...

                                                                          Forgot to take a photo of the menu for the exact name in Hangul, so I'm not certain if DSS calls this yang nyeom tong dak or not, referring to the spicy seasoned style of battered fried chicken. In any case, here are the characters for yangnyom tongdak, 양념 치킨 .

                                                                          My friend drew a bead on Sunnyvale's Bon Chon Chicken, saying she liked DSS's version better. She described our wings as crunchier, spicier, and having a little more sauce coating the wings.

                                                                          For devotees of this style of Korean fried chicken, here's a photo gallery and a link to a recipe,

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                            The double frying mentioned in that link is very common in the descriptions I've heard. But note that, as per my server at Kang Tong Degi (DSS's sister restaurant), KTG only fries it once. I'm not sure his chicken tale is all it's quacked up to be, but that's what he told me.

                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                              치킨 spells "Chi-Kin" phonetically in Korean :)

                                                                              Tong Dak is 통닭 in Korean. i see this alot for this dish as well as other chicken dishes on menus. Dak is K for chicken.

                                                                              1. re: drewskiSF

                                                                                Now that's funny! I saw both but the chi-kin characters were romanized in the dish name as tong dak and seemed to be more common.

                                                                                OK, let's try again, yangnyeom tongdak, 양념통닭 .

                                                                                Are there specific names for the other styles of Korean fried chicken? The whole unbattered type, garlic chicken, non-spicy soy sauce one, etc.

                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                  oh, i meant the "chi-kin" characters are pretty common. Bon Chon has it in their name / logo thing http://bonchonbayarea.com/

                                                                                  the whole fried is just Tong Dak 통닭
                                                                                  i see the garlic / soy sauce fried chicken as Gan Jang (soy sauce in Korean) Chicken 간장치킨

                                                                                  i don't think i've seen just garlic. it's usually garlic / soy

                                                                                  Maangchi has a version called Dak Gang Jeong

                                                                            2. Just tried the Arki truck fried chicken. Got there at 11:30 with only one person ahead of me in line, and ordered two thighs. I had my order within 2 minutes and up in my office around the corner within the next 3. I had a difficult time discerning anything Asian about it, and more so when i dipped into the spicy aioli. The skin was super crispy but also thick and chewy - odd... it also had an almost stick-to-your-teeth after each bite quality to it.... all that said, it was delicious and I'd go back. the meat was very tender and moist. I really only needed the one thigh - it was super plump - and very filling. the other went to a co-worker who thoroughly enjoyed it - and saved me from myself. He's vowed to get the chicken breast sandwich with mashed potatoes IN the sandwich next time, and i'll get a bite.

                                                                              1. Dateline: July 23, 2012

                                                                                For something ala Philippines, I tried Savory Chicken in Milpitas. Prepared like Cantonese ja ji gai, but served with a very salty brown gravy with a lilting Filipino sour note. More details here,

                                                                                Others interested in trying Filipino styles of fried chicken can check out Max's, Chow King and Jollibee's, Filipino chains found in various Bay Area locations. Also known for fried chicken (but I've not tried these), Maharlika in Fremont, Toppings Too in Union City, Fil-Am Cuisine in Daly City, and Barrio Fiesta in Milpitas, among others.

                                                                                And a link to Stett Holbrook's review of Savory Chicken and others (2008),

                                                                                I like his conclusion:
                                                                                "Is Filipino (or Korean or Japanese or whatever) fried chicken American? What is American food in this multiethnic land of ours? Who's to say Chinese-style fried chicken served with egg rolls and fish sauce in a Filipino restaurant isn't more American than fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy? We're a diverse country and we've got the fried chicken prove it. "

                                                                                1. I had Crouching Tiger's in Redwood City's version of ChongQing-style chili chicken a few nights ago. They offer a bone-in and boneless version. I opted for the bone-in chicken wing version. The wings were nicely cleaved, across the bones, into small pieces. It's been a few years since I had this dish at Spices, but I remember being irritated by the jagged edges of their haphazardly chopped wings.

                                                                                  In Crouching Tiger's version, the chicken is marinated and dry fried rather than deep fried. Also in the final dish are uncut whole dried red peppers, red pepper flakes, lots of sliced jalapenos, a scant amount of red bell pepper, and sichuan peppercorns. The type of spice dominating any given piece of chicken seemed to vary, and I actually liked that element of variety. The meat was juicy and not greasy.

                                                                                  Especially regarding the inclusion of jalapenos, this was a very different dish than the version sold elsewhere and that described in Fuschia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty." I can't imagine putting bone-in chicken and a red bell pepper in your mouth at the same time, so I don't why that was there. To go over rice? I wound up throwing out the hot red peppers and tossed everything else over greens the next day, making a really nice salad. I'd have to try another version of the dish before passing the verdict on whether or not the jalapenos were a good addition. One element I didn't like is that the jalapenos makes your lip burn and distract from the fun numbing sensation you get from sichuan peppercorns.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                    Jalapeños and red bell peppers? Yeah, that's what they did to the shrimp version I had there.

                                                                                    If you can extend your southern boundary from Menlo Park down to Palo Alto, you might give Da Sichuan a try. I believe that ChongQing chicken is called Manchurian chicken there. I've not had it, but it has been one of my brother's favorites. He said Da Sichuan's would be too spicy for me to order. Da Sichuan's cooking is balls to the wall, the opposite pole from Crouching Tiger.

                                                                                  2. Dateline: July 26, 2012

                                                                                    Have wanted to try Santa Clara's China Way for years, and the fried chicken quest provided the opening. I had lunch there on Thursday ordering the Korean-Chinese/Shandong standard gan pong ji aka kan pung ki (Korean). Located on El Camino Real's soondubu row, most of the clientele were speaking Korean. The wings were good enough but I've had better. More details here,

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                      干烹雞 (Yale: gon1 paang1 gai1)
                                                                                      That version you depict almost seems like another version of "油淋雞" [Yale: yau4 lam4 gai1] ?

                                                                                      Here's one rendition of "干烹雞" that you might be amused to read about:
                                                                                      (The restaurant referred to is named as "Great Seas" by the owners):

                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                        Thanks, interesting. Great Seas' lollipop version seems to be considered unusual for 干烹雞 .

                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                          The lollipop-ing, perhaps, and the lack of anything else with it - but the dry-ish, crispy-ish look of it is not. If one googles for images of it (nb: "乾烹雞" would be the same, with the traditional character used in place of "干") one see various renditions including "辣子乾烹雞" (spicy/chili version) that look similar, it seems to me. :-)

                                                                                    2. asian fried chicken has been disappointing..
                                                                                      best: yu-raku, san mateo: chicken karaage
                                                                                      *meat very tender, not fried dry, thigh skin left on. light batter. light brown colour
                                                                                      so-so: Orenchi, santa clara
                                                                                      *large portion juicy, small portion dry
                                                                                      Genki ramen, s.f.
                                                                                      *small wings, overbreaded, overcooked, semidry, neither juicy not tender.

                                                                                      korean wings: most steamed/broiled, then fried. meat tasteless, taste comes from sauce
                                                                                      -sia fusion, newark, holy moly, oakland, coco chicken, fremont
                                                                                      *99 chicken, santa clara, & bon chon chicken, sunnyvale: crunchy, tasty small wings, didn't taste the meat.

                                                                                      chinese wings:
                                                                                      -San Tung: dried fried wings had a little chicken flavor
                                                                                      -China Station: chicken cooked twice, heavily battered, semitasty, sauce very strong.

                                                                                      1. The best fried chicken I've had in my life was an ayam kalasan I had in Bali - tender, curry-marinated chicken, fried and served under a drift of what I thought was fried panko but may have been coconut. This thread sparked a search for recipes that revealed a few different cooking methods - most simmered the chicken in coconut water (not coconut milk), and one of them fried the remaining spice paste after the chicken was done.

                                                                                        I ended up going to the Straits Cafe in SF to try their ayam kalasan because I was intrigued by the cooking method in Chris Yeo's recipe in an SF Chronicle Asian fried chicken roundup last year - fried, simmered in spice paste (his uses coconut milk), then fried again.

                                                                                        Unfortunately, the version served there is a plain fried chicken cutlet with sauce poured over it - no intermediate simmering step, for sure. The sauce was ok, but not as good as the sauce made at home from Yeo's recipe.

                                                                                        If I get my act together I'll post my attempts to make this chicken on the Home Cooking Board...

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: daveena

                                                                                          Would love to read about your stab at making the recipe.

                                                                                          Also, next time you're in the South Bay, Bay Leaf in Sunnyvale has ayam kalasan on the menu.

                                                                                        2. Still crunching on fried chicken, this time at King Eggroll in Gilroy, part of the Vietnamese-Chinese local chain (5 stores). The least expensive, 50¢ for a drummette off the buffet line, and performed above its price point. Deets here,

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                            You found my guilty pleasure.

                                                                                            I always munch on a couple of fried chicken drummettes when I pick up a pork and prawn bun there. The fried chicken wings at the Gilroy King Eggroll are moist inside and have a flavorful crunchy outside.

                                                                                            And the marinated meat and shrimp in the bun are wonderfully flavorful too.

                                                                                          2. Dateline: July 19, 2012

                                                                                            I returned to Gaku in San Jose to give the jidori (earth chicken aka free-range chicken) tatsuta a whirl. While described as similar to kara-age by our waitress, this was a more finessed dish in the hands of Gaku's chefs. Not noticeably marinated, the flesh was well-salted and the skinless, boneless chunks were remarkably juicy. Very light and crispy batter, and we loved the spicy-sweet-sour dipping sauce that reminded me a bit of the dip Peacock serves with chicken lollipops.

                                                                                            While jidori tatsuta was my selection for July's dish of the month, I've had some other excellent Japanese-style fried chicken preps at Gaku on other visits, so wonderful that I've ordered them multiple times. Those include:

                                                                                            Tori sasami senbei, $5

                                                                                            Spicy chicken wings, $7

                                                                                            Crispy chicken skin “chip”, $7

                                                                                            More details here,

                                                                                            1. My month of chowing on fried chicken (and ice cream and hot dogs) ends with . . .


                                                                                              Chinese chicken salad, that is, said to be invented in California and derived from the Cantonese hand-shredded chicken. Some say that the dish originated in Los Angeles, others claim it first appeared on San Francisco menus. And while it has mostly disappeared from SF Chinese-American restaurants, this dish is still going strong a little further south on the Peninsula, specifically at Su Hong in Menlo Park, Chef Chu's in Los Altos and Ming's in Palo Alto. Proximity to the offices of Sunset magazine which first published the recipe for Ming's version some 40 years ago as a staple of the Peninsula lifestyle and Western living may have something to do with its continued local popularity.

                                                                                              Ming's Chinese Cuisine of Palo Alto was founded in 1956 and traces its lineage back to legendary restaurateur Johnny Kan and Kan's of San Francisco. I tried its version on Monday and liked it very much. Chunks of skinless, moist fried chicken, a distinctive pungent dressing spiked with Chinese hot mustard, this dish was produced with more care at Ming's than anywhere else I've run across it. More details here,

                                                                                              To get a sense of how iconic this dish is, check out the discussion on the Home Cooking board for ex-pats who crave the taste again.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                Thanks for the report! I was wondering what sort of shell the salad is in, but am now seeing the details in the other thread:

                                                                                                "A deep-fried wheat wafer crisp sporting a pinked edge and similar in texture to fried eggroll wrappers forms a cup for holding the portion."

                                                                                              2. Two recent encounters with this former dish of the month.

                                                                                                I've enjoyed the KFC at Dan Sung Sa several times, and a recent visit was pretty disappointing. Chicken was overcooked and blackened in spots. Drowning in sauce could only help so much.

                                                                                                Namu Gaji's KFC was the first KFC I've eaten that wasn't just wings. Thin crispy skin, most of the fat had been rendered out. Delicious juicy meat. I don't quite get why dashi gravy is served on the side of such an already great dish, but maybe that's the KFC answer to blue cheese and buffalo wings.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. Oh no, my favorite places for KFC wings are either booked for Super Bowl or closed early in the day!

                                                                                                  Any leads on good a saucy variety of KFC in the Richmond district? (I'm already picking up other kinds of "Asian Fried Chicken" for a party over there, so no need for tips on other types of wings).