In honor of National Fried Chicken Day, these unique takes on fried yardbird display L.A.’s geographic and ethnic diversity. The only thing the preparations have in common is that they’re on the bone, utilize dark meat and are profoundly flavorful.
Izakaya Bincho [CLOSED]
Tomo Ueno trained at a yakitori bar in Saitama Prefecture before he and wife Megumi moved to Los Angeles to open their five-table, 520-square-foot shoebox on Redondo’s International Boardwalk. Sit at the counter and watch the chef work his magic on Fried Chicken Wings ($6.50), served fresh from the fryer, with miraculously thin skins and a spicy-sweet chile glaze that builds in intensity with each bite. Tomo san only uses premium free-range chicken.
The southern Thai restaurant from Chef Tui Sungkamee and sister Jazz Singsanong has become a Hollywood phenomenon, and their magic extends to fried chicken. Kai Kamin ($9.95) features bone-in nubs of chicken showered with turmeric and completely addictive fried garlic. The dish doesn’t need any embellishment, but the accompanying honey chile sauce sure didn’t hurt.
When Korea-based KyoChon Chicken opened a branch in Koreatown in 2007, the idea of eating at a 1000-link fried chicken chain seemed about as appealing as funneling a quart of Drano. They defied the odds by delivering a dynamic preparation of fried poultry. KyoChon fried chicken comes in two flavors: Garlic Soy Sauce and Hot Sweet Sauce. They sell wings and sticks, but the best way to experience the bird is by ordering a whole chicken ($17.99). The cooks hack the chicken into two-inch chunks with total disregard for joint placement. The luscious meat is jacketed with a thin, crispy sheathe. The frying process fused the garlic soy sauce into the skin, and since the chicken isn’t battered, melts away the succulent skin’s fat.
Chef Larkin Mackey’s Good Ole Fried Chicken ($10) is lightly breaded, well seasoned and expertly fried. The dark meat retains its moisture while barely betraying a hint of grease. The crust couldn’t have been more than a millimeter thin, and the skin was virtually fat-free.
The side: Aunt Carolyn’s Potato Salad, inspired by a version from Larkin’s aunt, “sweet and spicy,” studded with chunks of red and green pepper. The menu claims the potatoes inspire diners to “slap yo’ mamma.” My mamma was nowhere in sight, and my friend was bigger than me, so I’ll have to save the slapping for next time.
The best time to get your chicken fix is on Sundays, when Larkin’s offers a “Poor Man’s Buffet.” Certain Sundays, the $12.99 feast includes all-you-can-eat fried chicken (and catfish, and smothered pork chops, and mac ‘n cheese…).