WaBar’s an unexpected choice for wings in Tanjong Pagar, but if you can’t wait to eat at its always-full neighbours, it’s a good alternative. There are too many chicken and sauce permutations to pick from, so we went with the crunchy wings ($12/four, $22/eight), served with fries and our choice of honey mustard and WaBar chilli sauces. The batter is dry, light and not as oily as the rest, and the sauce keeps each bite interesting.
This made-in-Singapore brand has kiosks in Tampines and Bugis for takeaways, but head to its K-Town (that’s Tanjong Pagar for you) outlet for the full chimaek experience. The options here come in Spicy Up ($18/wings, breast, drumstick and thighs), soy ganjang ($12/four) and sweet yangnyum chilli ($12/four) seasonings – we gravitate to the hits of umami from the soy garlic. Have it with the watermelon soju ($38), served in a cored-out melon, no less.
There are five different coats to pick for your wings, drumlets ($16/eight, $29.90/16 pieces) and whole chicken pieces ($30.90), but shoot for the garlic or spicy versions here. The former comes with extra chunks of fried garlic, and the latter an eye-watering hit of chilli that’s smoky and mildly sweet, though the chicken can be a little tasteless. And for cluck’s sake, don’t waste those extra bits of crunchy fried batter.
Looking like KFC got a hip Brooklyn makeover, 4 Fingers is a homegrown brand with four outlets, dishing out soy garlic and hot sauce-brushed wings á la carte ($7.95/six to $19.95/18 pieces) and combo ($9.95/six to $21.95/18 pieces) meals with kimchi- and seaweed-topped fries. The batter is thinner on its joints, giving you a dry, clean crunch and the impression of a healthier meal. The hot sauce is barely prickly, while the sweeter wing is soy sauce-heavy.
Busan-born Bonchon comes to Singapore by way of Boston, where its local franchisee, Jefferson Tandanu, first experienced chimaek. Order the hot sauce wings (from $6.95/six to $47.95/40 wings and drumlets) if you’ve still got your chilli training wheels on. The biscuity batter is coated here in a fleeting burn that bites you then yields to sweet garlic notes.
One of the first restaurants to bring ‘KFC’ (that’s Korean Fried Chicken) to Singapore, Kko Kko Nara has its chicken delivered fresh every day, before deep frying it in a secret blend of flours and draping it in spicy, garlic, or spicy-garlic sauces. Ma Neul Gan Jang ($20/eight, $35/16), its version of garlic soy, is the hot seller here, though the soy is more perceptible than the allium. There are also oven-roasted versions ($35-$40) for the diet-conscious.
The sauces here are imported directly from Seoul, and the fresh chicken carted in daily sits in the marinade for over six hours. Chir Chir’s (say: ‘chi-ruh chi-ruh’) seven piece wing sets ($26.90) are pricey, but worth it. Crispy Fried lets out a loud, gratifying crunch, Garlicky lives up to its name and the spicy sauce is racy – we had a hard time picking a favourite. Bonus marks for the extra sweet potato cubes and fried toppoki.
This tiny chicken shop is run by the folks behind Bali Lane’s Stateland Cafe, which explains the woody décor. The three flavours sauced on crackly fried batter here – spicy yangnyum with garlic and rice syrup, soy sauce and garlic ganjang, and salted egg with curry leaves – are all tweaked for local palates ($15.90/eight, $29.90/16 pieces). The salted egg is lacking punch, so our vote this time goes to the sweet and salty ganjang joints that set the appetite up for lugs of Kirin beer ($9).