I was very excited for the 3rd Annual Fried Chicken Festival in Chinatown. But, at $65 a ticket (for a 3-hour event), it was just a little out of my league (and all of my money is tied up in El Pollo Loco stock right now – ticker symbol LOCO). I had to come up with an alternative, so instead I’m taking a tour of some Chinese restaurants to try out their fried chicken.
Chinese Fried Chicken is an incredibly crispy and juicy chicken dish that is easy to overlook in many restaurants. The process for cooking the chicken is traditionally complex – with a bunch of different spices boiled into the chicken legs & wings, coated with a syrupy vinegar mixture, thoroughly dried, and then fried – but the result looks deceptively simple. Some diners may think, “No thanks, I can get fried chicken anywhere… I’ll have the egg rolls”.
This was partly my perspective, as well, until last year when a friend took me to San Tung in San Francisco. This is an incredibly popular restaurant in the Sunset district, and we waited outside on a cold February night for over an hour and tried to understand San Tung’s creative system for seating people (there was a dry-erase board with names that were continually erased and reshuffled, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it at all). San Tung is well known for their fried chicken – deep fried and sauteed in a spicy garlic sauce – and I noticed that nearly every table in the restaurant had at least one plate of fried chicken. When we finally got to dig into our chicken legs, I was blown away and felt like I was kind of blowing it all of the other times when I’ve gone out for Chinese, completely disregarding the fried chicken appetizer.
Now, I HAVE to try to the fried chicken whenever going out for Chinese. So far, none of my local spots have done it as well as San Tung, but Foo Chow restaurant comes very close to that San Tung magic. Foo Chow is still using their 16-year old claim-to-fame as the location for parts of Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour on their facade: “Rush Hour was shot here”…
…and inside there is a notoriously aloof waitstaff (you may never see your server again after you are served) – and I am convinced that their marvelous fried chicken is the reason why Jackie Chan continued to film the Rush Hour series there. Foo Chow is so consistent with the chicken; their blend of spices hits the spot every time.
Foo Chow’s wall has displayed the same message for years now (and also touched up several times), but here’s what their wall should actually say: “Jackie Chan Ate Fried Chicken Here, and he LOVED it”. Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? I pity the foo’ who hasn’t tried Foo Chow’s fried chicken.
949 N. Hill St, 90012