Need something to do this weekend? Here are five places around town to forget your diet and eat fried chicken.
L.A. Chicken, 11780 Thorpe Road, Richmond
With its fluorescent lighting, pink-vinyl countertops, and dated, banquet-style chairs, L.A. Chicken isn’t a place you visit for the ambience. But like fellow hotspots Phnom Penh, Parallel 49 (pre-renovation, at least) and the majority of pho joints in the city, this hole-in-the-wall forgoes the frills and lets the food speak for itself.
On the menu? Arguably some of the Lower Mainland’s best fried chicken—available in original and spicy varieties—that will make you wonder what you ever saw in Church’s and KFC. Let’s survey the goods: ridiculously crispy skin that retains flavour without entering grease-trap territory? Check. Thoroughly cooked, tender, and dripping-with-juice meat? Check. Served with a side of fries and deliciously hot gravy that rivals your great aunt Martha’s coveted Thanksgiving recipe? Double check. (If you purchase a lunch combo, anyway.)
Affordable prices and the fact that this place is family-owned—supporting local businesses over corporate megachains is always cool!—help seal the deal.
Cocoru, 2140-8391 Alexandra Road, Richmond
The Korean-style fried chicken-and-beer combo has been a popular food trend for the last couple of years, all thanks to K-drama (South Korean TV dramas, in case you didn’t know).
For those looking to join in on the tasty experience, check out this joint located on Richmond’s “Eat Street”. Its menu includes bone-in chicken and boneless chicken, with half- and full-order options. Some of its most popular choices are the bone-in soy garlic chicken (deep-fried chicken in soy garlic sauce topped with sliced garlic flakes), and boneless pa-dak (deep-fried chicken with house special sauce covered in a mountain of sliced green onion).
If you want an Instagram-worthy shot, we recommend the aptly-named snowfall chicken—crispy fried-chicken with Béchamel sauce covered in Grana Padano cheese. If you’re torn between one flavour or the other, choose the half and half order to have the best of both worlds.
Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar, 2201 West 1st Avenue and 1055 West Hastings Street
Apart from its happy hour and beverage lists, Chewies has—between its two locations—five distinct menus. And every single one serves fried chicken. Sourcing its poultry from Abbotsford’s Rossdown Farms and Natural Foods, the restaurant offers some of the freshest meals in Vancouver.
Listing the dish for lunch at its Kitsilano location, Chewies pairs the bird with Cajun honey-butter drizzle, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables, while the venue’s brunch option provides two huge chicken thighs over two buttermilk waffles, syrup, and an optional egg.
Head to Chewies’s Coal Harbour restaurant at lunchtime, however, and you’ll find its well-known meal served with bacon and chive butter and a honey-butter drizzle, complete with the venue’s house-made waffles. Dinner downtown sees its southern fried chicken placed alongside mashed potatoes, green beans, and honey-butter—and, if you’re keen to come back for brunch the next day, you’ll find chicken and waffles on the menu once more.
If you ask us, that’s a whole lot of practice in perfecting fried chicken.
Wu Fung Dessert, 3220-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
If you’ve ever meandered through Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre, then you will know that all of the good stuff is located on the third floor—the food court.
One of the most popular food stalls is Wu Fung Dessert, which in reality doesn’t offer much dessert at all. However, it serves up plenty of Hong Kong-style snacks such as deep-fried squid, curry fish balls, and hearty bowls of noodles.
But the star of its menu is the chicken wings. Deep-fried until golden brown, these babies offer a crispy layer of chicken skin that covers a juicy and tender interior. You can choose different portions (3, 6, 9, or 12 pieces), but expect a wait since they are made-to-order.
Don’t judge its modest kitchen size—this little hot spot has a loyal fan-base with dedicated followers who would gladly drive out here just for its fried chicken. There’s usually a line-up during peak hours (lunch and dinner rush), but we guarantee that it’s worth the wait.
Juke Fried Chicken, 182 Keefer Street
Sometimes names can be misleading—which is certainly the case with Juke Fried Chicken, a joint that rightly sounds like it belongs in the middle of rural Tennessee. Instead, the crazy-busy new-kid-on-Keefer restaurant is situated in Vancouver’s rapidly gentrifying Chinatown, an area that’s more interested in rewriting history than paying tribute to it.
So predictably there’s no 1946 Wurlitzer 1015 with the classic bubble tubes blaring a scratchy 78-rpm version of Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” at Juke. And because the room is all concrete blocks and gleaming glass, it doesn’t exactly leave you thinking that you took a wrong turn someplace on Route 66. And all that’s okay, because, really, you’re here for the food, not for decor that will remind your great grandparents how much they once loved Vie’s Chicken and Steak House in Hogan’s Alley.
First let’s start with a secret: true fried chicken fans don’t really care about the meat, no matter how dark and juicy. It’s all about the skin. Juke Fried Chicken, then, is where you bring that friend who can’t stop obsessing about defibrillators, cholesterol, and the fact that the only thing that fits comfortably these days is XXL sweatpants.
Thighs and drumsticks are rolled in a mixture of corn flour, rice flour, and potato and corn starches, and then deep-fried to an impossibly crispy golden brown. In a welcome change-up from how the Colonel taught the world how to do things, whatever secret spices are used, don’t start with salt and end with salt, salt, and more salt.
So tell your dining companion (whether eating in or taking out) that you won’t judge them at all for not eating the delectably crispy skin. And then have at ’er under the pretext that your motto in life is “waste-not-want-not”. The best part is that you won’t feel guilty after, because Juke clearly subscribes to the idea that classic fried chicken shouldn’t be greasier than a Virginia country fair pig. Sorry if you were misled.