London's best fried chicken
Ok, it sounds like sacrilege, but we actually think some of the best bits at this glass-sided airy branch of Bao are not the legendary fluffy buns at all. In particular, we’re thinking of supporting acts such as the not-so-small Taiwanese chicken chop – a spiced, crumb-coated deep-fried beauty served alongside a glistening whole egg yolk floating in a soy dressing that adds some extra oomph.
They may be the unofficial ‘chicken burger’ champions of London, but Butchies’ delectable buttermilk-fried ‘sandwiches’ are regularly outdone by their moreish ‘strips’. Although these come with the house ‘OG’ sauce as standard, we strongly suggest ordering some extra dips at 50p a pop (don’t be put off by the weirdly watery blue cheese version). A great shout for fast fried chicken in Shoreditch.
Fried chicken heaven for hardcore fans, Chick ’n’ Sours in Covent Garden serves its chooks in various forms (including ‘tenders’), but nothing beats the K-pop sandwich/burger. Looking a bit like a Jackson Pollock sandwiched into a brioche bun, it comes with squirts of fiery gochujang mayo, Asian slaw splurging out and crisply bubbled batter coating the buttermilk-bathed thigh meat. This is mercilessly messy stuff, so don’t go dressed in your date-night finery.
This sociable Japanese joint in Dalston and Covent Garden specialises in ‘yakitori’ – otherwise known as delicious chicken-on-a-stick. Not on a skewer, but still great, is the koji fried chicken; indulgent deep-fried chunks with a dry, crisp coating, served with nori salt and lemon. There’s plenty of other good stuff on offer here, so grab some mates and try as much as you can.
Yes, it’s a deep-fried breaded dish with the initials KFC, but the Keralan Fried Chicken served at this teeny Soho Indian is no laughing matter – especially as the meat is marinated in tandoori spices, then rolled in a mix of masala, flour and buttermilk. Served with pickled mooli and a dinky pot of curry-leaf mayo, it’s just about perfect: crunchy and grease-free on the outside, mouth-wateringly soft and juicy in the middle.
These days it’s all about conventional starters and mains at this buzzy Mayfair hangout, but there are snacks too – including a playful twist on a ‘coq au vin’, made with fried chicken, served on a base of the house lardon mayo and pickled onions (steeped in red wine, obvs). They also do a rockin’ sandwich/burger version of this classic as part of their set lunch menu – and it flies out.
Dude-food burger slingers MeatLiquor have established themselves as brand leaders with a cult following to match, and they’re also up there with the best when it comes to fried chicken. We could point you towards their ‘monkey fingers’, but nothing beats the Tower Block burger – a mighty pile-up of fried chicken fillet, cheese, hash brown, jalapeños, slaw and Russian dressing, all crammed into one of their firm, bouncy buns.
A stalwart of the street-food scene, Mother Clucker can often be found at Kerb, Hawker House and Flat Iron Square, but it also serves its delicious tea-brined, twice-battered buttermilk chicken from a converted US Army ambulance just in front of the Old Truman Brewery. Strips of tender white (halal) meat are encased in a crunchy southern-style crumb and splashed with zesty lime juice, chilli sauce or cool homemade mayo.
Brixton’s Nanban celebrates the ‘barbaric’ side of Japanese cuisine with the emphasis on boundary-bending ‘soul food’, which means panko-crusted tea-pickled eggs, Padrón peppers with ponzu, deep-fried jackfruit and a stonking version of karaage-style chicken thighs – crispy marinated meat served with lashings of miso and honey mayo for dipping. Need an extra zesty nibble? Try some fried chicken ‘scratchings’ sprinkled with Japanese curry salt.
At the Covent Garden branch of Korean street-food supremo On The Bab, crunchy morsels of tender chicken breast are served doused in chopped peanuts, with a choice of four add-ons – a ginger-soy drizzle, sweet and spicy gravy, garlic mayo or a shed-load of fresh shredded spring onions. Whatever choice you make, it will be a good one. Just be sure to team it with an ice-cold beer – in true Korean style.
Red Rooster’s inspiration may be historical Harlem (rather than its location, Shoreditch), but the reality is more like super-bling. Never mind, fried chicken fiends can share the legendary Bird Royale feast, scoff the fried ‘yard bird’ or get sticky with Sammy’s soft-fleshed Harlem-style chicken (circa 1930) in a wheaty waffle accompanied by drizzles of hot maple honey and fiery Rooster sauce… oh, and some pickled cucumber on the side.
‘Fried chicken and wings, but not as you know it’ – that’s the pitch from main man (and ex-racer) Matt Harris at Thunderbird. The wings are done three ways, while the fried chicken comes in boxes, buckets and buns – we like the Chipuffalo, a mash-up of juicy meat, buffalo, chipotle, iceberg lettuce, pickles and blue cheese sauce. Find Thunderbird’s wares at Giant Robot and Dinerama.
As the first London outpost of a global ramen chain, Yamagoya in Waterloo is all about those thick, creamy, unctuous bowls of noodles, but we’re also big fans of its juicy chicken karaage – nuggets of crisply coated thigh meat served with yuzu mayo for dunking. They count as ‘small bites’, so you might need a double helping if you’re a fried chook addict.
Venue says Japanese Ramen since 1969!
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