It’s official. Sydney is obsessed with fried chicken. Are we in the American Deep South? No. Are we surround by the sky scrapers of Seoul? Not really. Does that matter? Maybe. Are we doing it anyway? You’re damn right we are: this is deep-fried poultry for crying out loud, and we’re all about it. Here are our favourite joints (getit?) in town right now, doing chicken the way – our fictitious American/Korean/Indonesian – mamma used to do.
You could go the fried chicken on its own, but beware the hot sauce they smother on top which soggies up the batter. Better to go for the chicken sandwich. It’s a big piece of fried chook on a dashi-butter soaked roll paired with pickles: simple, but damn tasty, and there’s none of that hot sauce to overwhelm the flavours of the meat (which we’re told is free range, by the way – nice one Butter).
Sure, the burgers are famous here but given the choice, we’ll take the chicken wings any day. The menu calls them "freaking awesome" and they tell no lies. The crisp, golden joints are a far cry from their thickly battered, buffalo cousins. Forgo the traditional hot sauce and get the zingy and slightly sweet vinegar and green onion accompaniment. Sharing? You’d best be prepared to fight for the wings with the greatest sauce-to-chicken ratio.
Fried chicken is definitely the star here. You can have it four ways, but if texture trumps dressing every time, you’re going to want the original recipe. Half a dozen chicken portions arrive in a perfectly seasoned, crisp batter spiced with chilli flakes. A good squeeze of lime over the top and little cubes of luminous yellow pickles on the side makes fast food taste fresh and zesty.
There are plenty of other options on the menu, but the real reason you’re here is to get involved with the fried chicken. Order up a half or full serve – you can also choose wings, breast, or a mix – and get ready for some finger-licking fun. Go half-and-half and order original and a flavoured number: there's herbs and garlic, sweet and spicy or garlic soy. The extra-crisp, golden coating seals in the juicy chicken. Nab a wing or drumstick for equal parts crunch and tender meat. Add some Korean beers and you've got a winning combo.
There is so much deliciousness to choose from at this epic modern Lebanese joint in Glebe, but you really shouldn’t miss the chook. The fried chicken in the ‘LFC’ is super crisp, the meat within just cooked, keeping the juiciness intact. Its accompanying jet-black dip turns out to be squid ink infused toum (garlic sauce), complementing the meat with a sour/salty vibe.
Here at Melbourne’s beloved chicken shop, recently transported to Sydney, there’s only one thing you have to do: order the wings. The meat has been brined to seasoned tenderness and the coating is seriously crisp – so much so that it crackles as you bite into it, coming off in salty shards. Just try not to nibble at the ends where all that crunchy batter is ready and waiting for the taking. They’re served on a slice of fluffy white bread, which soaks up some of the red, spicy juices. Tear pieces off and eat them along with the meat, maybe even go rogue and make a little sambo of it.
You know Mary’s for their kickass cheeseburgers, but they do a mean fried chicken as well. Get a half, whole or even two chickens (that one’s called the Larry Bird) and they will arrive to you jointed and basketted, as crispy as you could muster on the outside, and as juicy as you could imagine on the inside. Order the silky mash and gravy on the side for maximum good times.
No soggy bottoms here: the coating on the Korean-style fried chicken is crisp and ultra-crunchy, and makes a satisfying shattering sound when you bite into it. Greasiness is not an issue, and the whole thing is seasoned just right and all the way through, so it’s flavour central with each bite. Plus nearly a dozen variations are available, including one with soy and garlic and another one covered in cheese “snow”.
This Indonesian Kingsford institution is known for its chicken, served six different ways (variations on satay, charcoal grilled and deep-fried). The grilled is something you’ve got to taste – it’s their speciality and is smoky and super tender. But the deep-fried is equally worth your time, with a crisp coating and chicken that’s been slowly cooked in spices for up to six hours before being fried, making for meat that is both flavourful and seriously juicy.
The chicken here gets an Asian twist, and it’s even free-range. We love the giant, hulking Lil Kim burger. A glossy, sweet, charred bun encases a massive wedge of crisply battered, tender-fleshed chicken, sour nuggets of kimchi, crunchy slaw and spicy Korean barbecue sauce. We’re full already, but we can’t stop eating it.