PETALING JAYA, Aug 20 — Who doesn’t enjoy a perfectly fried piece of chicken? With the crunchy layer of skin and batter giving way to soft and juicy white meat, it’s the ultimate delivery vehicle of protein, fat and carbs. From the exciting times of KFC first opening its doors in Malaysia in the 1970s to the proliferation of Korean fried chicken restaurants in recent years, we have been truly spoiled for choice. In this article, we’ll be going through everything fried chicken, from the humble Chinese fried chicken rice stall to the slightly more upscale chains from the United States and everything in between. It’s chicken time!
4Fingers is a Singaporean brand that takes its inspiration from the Korean-style fried chicken and tweaks it for local taste. It seems to have hit all the right notes as there is always a queue in front of its outlets. My office is next to a 4Fingers restaurant in Nu Sentral and it’s impossible to eat here at lunchtime unless you plan on going back late to the office. I love the crispy soy garlic wingettes and the delicious skinny fries with powdered seasoning. Price-wise it is similar to Korean fried chicken outlets (which isn’t cheap...) but that hasn’t stopped anyone from patronising the store.
Also originating from Singapore, word on the street is that a Singapore-based Korean teacher started this fried chicken joint called Choo Choo Chicken. So good is business that it has expanded aggressively into Malaysia; why, there are two outlets within 10 minutes of where I stay — one in Puchong and the other in Taipan, Subang Jaya. Here you’ll also find Cham Chi Rice Burgers and Bulgogi Rice Burgers, an interesting combination of seaweed-flavoured rice shaped into patties/buns with kimchi and either tuna or beef in the middle. It’s surprisingly yummy. I like how crispy the fried chicken is too. It’s fried so well you can even nibble on the wing tips if you’re so inclined.
Wingstop proudly declares it’s one of the fastest growing fried chicken brands in the United States. It may be popular for its Buffalo chicken wings but I tend to go for the drums. Wingstop has a wide range of sauces you can choose from, including localised options like sambal pedas. Its signature hot sauce — atomic — would come as a disappointment to most Malaysians, especially those who know a thing or two about spicy food. While it’s tasty enough, it wouldn’t register as being anything close to spicy to local taste buds used to the inferno that is cili padi. I love its mango habanero sauce, though.
Most Malaysians would be familiar with the name Kyochon. It’s one of the largest fried chicken restaurant chains in Korea and its arrival on our shores a few years ago had been eagerly anticipated. I must admit Kyochon knows what it’s doing. The prices here are reasonable, better than other Korean fried chicken franchises and even some of the local shops owned by expat Koreans. The Honey series is what I usually order — a sweet and savoury treat that comes either as wings or 1/2 chicken. Kyochon fries its chicken only upon order so it’s piping hot and crispy when it hits your table. Don’t forget to order a side of pickles; it’s complimentary but you’d have to ask for it. The vinegar cuts through the richness of the fried chicken so you can eat more without feeling sick.
Chicken Pop is a new Chinese fried chicken rice establishment, whose decadent butter chicken rice has made it the popular joint that it is. The dish is exactly what it sounds like — a serving of chicken rice topped with a square of melting butter. It’s super rich and sinful but thoroughly satisfying. It’s not something you’d want to order if you’re on a diet, though. Chicken Pop serves whole chicken legs deep fried to a crisp perfection while maintaining a juicy interior. This place also make its own “soy sauce”, a beige concoction that has umami flavour and goes wonderfully with the chicken. I tried asking the friendly owner what it contains but she naturally she didn’t give anything away.
Nu Sentral, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
LRT/MRT: KL Sentral
From the station: 50 metres
Operating hours: 10am-10pm
Choo Choo Chicken
20, Jalan USJ10/1B, Subang Jaya, Selangor
From the station: 500 metres
Operating hours: 11.30am-11pm
Lot G-05, Citta Mall, 1, Jalan PJU 1A/48, Pusat Perdagangan Dana 1, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
LRT: Ara Damansara
From the station: 600 metres
Operating hours: 11am-10pm
1 Utama Shopping Centre, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
MRT: Bandar Utama
From the station: 200 metres
Operating hours: 10am-9.30pm
9-01, Jalan Kenari 17F, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Puchong, Selangor
LRT: IOI Puchong Jaya
From the station: 250 metres
Operating hours: 10.30am-9pm