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 in town right now, doing chicken right.
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The best fried chicken in Sydney
Thirsty Bird comes from the guys behind Mr Crackles on Oxford Street, so these folks know how to do late night food. And boy, do they know how to fry a chicken. The coating is plentiful, dry and crisp without being greasy, and the chicken meat within is tender and juicy. It's tenderness that only comes from meat that's spent a good, long sabbatical in brine (24-hours followed by an air-dry for a further 24-hours before battering, to be precise).
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.
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.
The splendidly crisp and juicy Korean fried chicken at this Iinner West hole-in-the-wall comes coated in your choice of sauce: sticky and sweet chilli topped with crushed peanuts, garlic soy with sesame and shallots, or for the spice lovers, a dried chilli and coriander number, the ‘Spicy Bomb’. Avoid the anxiety of choice and just order them all.
Order the special here – it's only $9.90 and comes with a hearty serving of rice, salad, potato noodles and kongnamul (sesame seasoned mung bean salad). On the sauce front, our pick is the sweet and spicy (the gochujang-spiked, bright red spicy sauce is just on the right side of hot and not too sweet), but you can get hot spicy, soy or honey butter mustard too. They change the oil here every day, making for a clean tasting, extra crisp fried batter, and they use a mix of boneless dark and white meat to keep things extra flavoursome and juicy.
This Surry Hills spot specialises in things that gain a cult like following: fried chicken, sneakers and ramen. If you're here for the chook though, you'll find soft tenders coated in a well seasoned batter, accompained by an excellent hot sauce that comes in four different levels of heat. Also if you have a veggo mate that's hankering for some fried chook, they also do battered mushrooms that manage to pack in a lot of the flavour you'd get from a piece of fried chicken.
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.
Everybody stay cool: you’re about to get really, really fat. But that’s OK. You’re eating Hot Star – the largest Taiwanese-style fried chicken served in a paper bag on Liverpool Street. What started off as a popular Taipei night market staple has now hit the inner city and it’s as close Sydney’s ever come to actually having street food.
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.
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.