More Fried Chicken to try.
Vons Supermarket (Santa Monica)
We would've never thought about trying this but since @tailbacku and @JeetKuneBao mentioned it, we figured why not?
The key aspect about Vons' Fried Chicken that stood out to us was that as @tailbacku and @JeetKuneBao said, the price is insanely cheap for the product: Normally it's $7.99 for 8(!) pieces of Fried Chicken (essentially a Whole Chicken), and on Fridays it's $4.99 for 8 pieces of Fried Chicken! They also have a standard price of $3.80 for 4 pieces of Fried Chicken (7 days a week)!
The other key thing is trying to get there when they make a fresh batch. We called ahead of time and the deli dept. said that they make a guaranteed fresh batch in the morning (before they open), and then after that, all bets are off (it just depends whenever they run low, they'll start making a new batch).
For this branch, we called ahead of time and they said they had just made a batch maybe 30 minutes ago (sitting for 30 minutes isn't ideal, but better than for hours).
Trying the Fried Chicken Breast, it's piping hot and the crust is crunchy, slightly crispy and the Breast is only slightly overcooked (generally moist). The one issue is that it's too salty (just a bit too much). Otherwise, very solid.
Fried Chicken Thigh:
This piece was sitting around for hours! When the person at the deli started pulling pieces of Chicken out of their stack, they were randomly grabbing, so I'm guessing they grabbed a piece that was sitting around since the morning? It tasted soggy, greasy, old.
Fried Chicken Leg:
This piece tasted like it was part of the recent batch (made 30 minutes ago). Piping hot and crispy as well, it was quite juicy. But like the Fried Chicken Breast, it was a little too salty, otherwise it would've been pretty great.
Vons Supermarket (Pasadena)
To make sure how Vons' quality might be across different parts of the city, we decided to visit another Vons (in Pasadena) when we were hanging out with friends in the area.
Like before it was indeed the ridiculous price of $7.99 for 8 pieces of Fried Chicken (and $4.99 on most Fridays).
Fried Chicken Breast:
The Fried Chicken Breast is only slightly overcooked, still juicy, but just like the Santa Monica location, it's just a bit too salty. It was thankfully pretty hot (tasting like they cooked it within the hour).
Fried Chicken Wings:
Both Fried Chicken Wings were obliterated (cooked too long), being dried out.
Fried Chicken Thigh & Legs:
These were also crunchy, hot, and juicy. There were bites that were just the right amount of salinity (and it was delicious), but these mostly were too salty as well (just a bit).
If they could dial back the Salt a bit, these would be fantastic Fried Chicken any night of the week. You just have to make sure you call ahead and ask if they recently made a batch or not. And even then, you might get stuck with random pieces being given to you that were sitting around for hours.
Regardless, it's a ridiculous PQR given the Half a Fried Chicken (4 pieces) for $3.80 or a Whole Fried Chicken (8 pieces) for $7.99 (or $4.99 most Fridays).
710 Brd. Way
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: (310) 260-0260
2355 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91107
Tel: (626) 744-2615
Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. (Revisit)
We wanted to give Tokyo Fried Chicken another try, so off we went on our 4th visit.
Sauteed Lotus Root (Kinpira Renkon):
These were pretty tasty! They were the cleanest, lightest dish we've had at Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. so far, and definitely a good counterpoint to most of the offerings (which are heavier).
Fried Chicken Dinner:
The ex-Nobu alum's Fried Chicken tastes very similar to the last 3 visits: It's crunchy, generally juicy, but on the oily side. I'm not sure if it's the type of oil, or the batter, but we always leave with the feeling that it's greasy, but it tastes fresh and juicy otherwise.
The Fried Chicken Wing, Leg and Thigh are all spot-on for juiciness. The seasoning is still a bit on the sweet side (just a touch of sweetness), but generally savory.
Fried Chicken Breast:
Chef Yamanashi cuts the Breast into two, and fries it in 2 pieces, so that it cooks more evenly perhaps. It is generally moist, and pretty consistent: Slightly crunchy, with a sweet-savory aspect.
Looking over the offerings, I can see Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. being a great local hangout for those that wanted Fried Chicken, and didn't want to drive too far, and wanted it for dinner (since Howlin' Ray's doesn't open for dinner, you're stuck looking for alternatives in the process). For fans of a Fried Chicken that's a touch different from the classic Fried Chicken flavors (the Yuzu Pepper Sauce is noteworthy to dip it into), you might consider TFC.
Tokyo Fried Chicken Co.
122 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (626) 282-9829
Located along a popular stretch of Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock is a new restaurant Eater LA was talking about a few months ago. Red Herring is an American Small Plates type of restaurant, but they have a Fried Chicken dish on the menu, so it was time for a visit.
An Exaltation of Grapefruit:
Made with Stiegl Grapefruit Radler, an Austrian Beer with Natural Grapefruit Juice added, Jalapeno and Thyme, this was a fizzy, citrusy way to start the evening. It was quite refreshing actually.
Baked Mac & Cheese (Cheddar &Gruyere):
This was not very good at all. Dried out Macaroni Shells on top (and burnt), it lacked any gooey cheesiness (it was all separated into semi-melted chunks inside). There was no creaminess either.
Brussels Sprouts (Lemon, Dates, Cashews):
These were much better, nicely sauteed Brussels Sprouts, a nice lemony kick, good balance of nuttiness from the Cashews.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles:
First, when you pick up a piece, you're shocked by the strange, chunky shapes of the Fried Chicken. It also feels hefty.
When you take a bite, it's a super crunchy Fried Chicken. It's also a bit thick and dense. The kitchen must have gotten sloppy because there are pieces where the Buttermilk Batter is over 1 inch thick! Just pure Batter. There's clumps of Batter in portions of the Fried Chicken here and there, and it's off-putting.
The actual Chicken itself is decent. Mildly seasoned, the hard, chunky Batter is what takes away from the enjoyment. After having airy, crispy and crunchy, going back to a pure heavy, crunchy Batter that's dryish isn't enjoyable.
The Waffles that accompany the Fried Chicken are awful: Tasting like store-bought, Frozen Waffles, they are dry, soft, and bland. They are the complete opposite of the Waffles found at Howlin' Ray's.
1661 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Tel: (323) 739-0004
Dulan's Soul Food
Since @Aesthete was asking about this place, mentioning that someone had said it was better than Howlin' Ray's, we couldn't wait.
Fried Chicken Dinner:
Walking into the restaurant, you can overhear the friendly staff greeting many of the people in line by their first names; it feels like there are many regulars and everyone's excited to get in line (you order at the counter).
Fried Chicken Breast:
The Fried Chicken Breast has a crispy-crunchy crust, which is good. However it's a bit salty, and one note. The Breast itself is overcooked (slightly dry).
Fried Chicken Thigh & Leg:
The Leg and Thigh are much better, juicy and moist. However, the crust tastes like a basic "standard" Batter, and it lacks the airy crispiness that Howlin' Ray's has. This isn't even close to Howlin' Ray's.
Totally salty. Tasting like a typical offering, we've had similar Greens at many of the local Soul Food restaurants in the area over the years.
Black Eyed Peas:
Another salt bomb! I stopped eating after the first bite.
This was OK. Tasted like a store-bought mixture. Rather basic, sweet, dry, crumbly.
Dulan's feels like a great neighborhood spot for locals that don't want to drive too far. But we'd rather have a few other places' Fried Chicken before Dulan's.
Dulan's on Crenshaw Soul Food
4859 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Tel: (323) 296-3034
Stevie's Creole Cafe
Thanks to @TheCookie for the recommendation, I knew I had to try soon, if @TheCookie was happy with it.
Unsweetened Ice Tea:
First, it's important to note that they prepare and fry the Fried Chicken to order (as in, even the dredging, etc.). It took a solid 30 minutes for the Fried Chicken to arrive. But I'm glad they're making it from scratch, fresh-to-order.
Fried Chicken Breast:
The Fried Chicken arrives piping hot, just out of the fryer! Taking a bite, there's a crispy-crunchy batter, on the thin side, but having a nice balance of some crunch and some crispiness.
The Breast is overcooked, however. It's somewhat moist, but also overcooked on the edges. You'd think for the kitchen taking the time to make Fried Chicken completely from scratch when you order it, that they take the care to do that, it's unfortunate that they don't realize when to finish cooking the Breast vs. the Thigh and Leg.
Fried Chicken Leg & Thigh:
Nice and juicy! The crust is as crunchy and crispy as the Breast, but now, there's juicy, not overcooked Chicken. And it has that taste. It has the familiar "American Diner / Coffee Shop Fried Chicken" taste that is nostalgic, delicious, and classic. This is like a better executed version of Pann's Fried Chicken in some ways.
Fried Chicken Wing:
Unfortunately, the Fried Chicken Wing was obliterated (overfried). We're hoping it's a fluke, and that the Wings will be better next time, but these were clearly left in the fryer too long, being overcooked and dry. That's one area Pann's does well (their Fried Chicken Wings are spot-on).
Mac 'n Cheese:
Their Mac 'n Cheese is pretty tasty! There's a decent cheesiness, some creaminess, and it's piping hot.
Their Steamed Broccoli was also very good, clean florets, steamed just right (not overcooked).
Based on the classic taste, and the perfectly cooked Fried Chicken Leg and Thigh, we were pretty happy with trying out Stevie's Creole Cafe, thanks @TheCookie. The overcooked Breast (slight) and way overcooked Wing are disappointing, but the sides and Leg & Thigh and the great classic crust taste makes it something worth trying again if we're in the area for sure. If they can get their Breast and Wing to a more consistent cooking, this would easily be one of the more noteworthy Fried Chicken joints. We're hoping they continue to improve over time.
Stevie's Creole Cafe
5545 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tel: (323) 503-2318
A few weeks ago, we were out in Eagle Rock and figured we might as well see how Honeybird is doing as well since it's kind of in the area?
Collard Greens (Applewood Smoked Bacon, Brown Sugar, Apple Cider Vinegar):
This is OK. It's better than Dulan's for sure. There's a nice Bacon undertone to each bite (they use plenty of it in the cooking), maybe a touch too acidic from the Apple Cider Vinegar.
At this point, being many months after our initial visits and their Grand Opening, and this being our... 5th visit, it seems like Honeybird has settled in on the same type of frying of their Fried Chicken as we saw in the Grand Opening (and throughout our 5 visits).
It is cooked at the wrong temperature. The crust is always very dark (and unappetizing looking), as if they don't even clean out the oil and parts of it burn.
The actual Fried Chicken (Breast, Thigh, Leg) are all well-cooked, and juicy. The Batter has a crunch to it, but not too much, but it lacks the airy crispness. They use an Organic Chicken, and there is a cleaner taste in general.
Chicken Rice (Texas Long Grain Rice, Louisiana Sausage, Roasted Chicken, Scallions):
There's a new menu item, Chicken Rice, that's been added. It sounded delicious and exciting, but tasting it... it's dryish. There's some Chicken taste to each bite, but not very much. Also the chunks of Chicken taste overcooked and dry, like they were leftovers from the previous day.
Phil Lee O Fish (Crispy Whitefish, Lemon Dill Aioli, Homemade Pickles, Tomato, Cabbage):
But really, at this point, the reason to go to Honeybird is their amazing Phil Lee O Fish! As mentioned last time, it's a funny play on words with Chef-Owner Phil Lee's name and the McDonald's Filet O Fish Sandwich. This is as awesome as it was last time!
Perfectly crispy, light, airy Whitefish battered and deep fried. It's crunchy, light, delicate, the crunch of the Slaw, the creamy Aioli and the light fluffy Bun! This is SO GOOD!
Pecan Pie (Toasted Pecans):
They are now making all their Pies in-house. The Housemade Pecan Pie looks amazing, so we had to try a slice.
First, the Toasted Pecans taste fresh, extremely nutty and so aromatic! I could eat them by themselves with a dab of Honey. Sadly, the Pecan Pie is too sweet! It seriously had like 200% of the Sugar needed to make this a great Pie. If they cut back the Sugar by half it feels like it could've been something worth ordering.
In the end, considering Chef Lee's pedigree with Water Grill, you'd hope he could whip his kitchen into shape and produce a cleaner, lighter, crispier Fried Chicken. They're part of the way there, and to their credit, I've never had overcooked Fried Chicken there. They use an Organic Chicken, and the seasoning is solid. But after all this time, I fear that's the way the kitchen intends it. At least we have their Phil Lee O Fish Sandwich.
714 Foothill Blvd.
La Canada, CA 91011
Tel: (818) 415-0489
Thanks to a report on Eater LA, it looks like a relative of the owners of Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville (the supposed creators of Nashville-style Hot Chicken) has opened up a place in L.A.
While initially exciting-sounding news, it also seemed suspect in a way. Why wasn't it called "Prince's Hot Chicken"? The answer given by owner Kim Prince (that the "Prince's Hot Chicken" name isn't known here, so they called it something else equally unknown by Angelenos "Hotville"(?)) seems like a copout. But regardless, the important thing is in the taste, so off we went.
Update: I just got off the phone with Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville, Tennessee. I spoke with the owner who confirmed that it is their niece, who is running Hotville Chicken, but the owner said, "No, no, it's not the Prince's Hot Chicken. She's got her own thing and recipe. There's only 1 Prince's Hot Chicken, right here in Nashville..."
While they are just starting out (they've been open a few weeks), they are currently an exercise in futility: We were the 10th people in line (granted some of the people ahead of us placed orders for their friends), but it took us 51 (FIFTY ONE) minutes to finally place our order!
As we got closer to the order taker, it was clear why it was so bad: They take all the orders by hand, writing down and spelling out the entire order by hand ("Breast Plain" "Leg Medium" etc.), instead of abbreviating.
In addition, they manually type in the credit card # for each order. Some people ahead of us wanted to split their check, so she was manually entering in 5 credit cards for one of the orders! AND, if you wanted a receipt (text, email), she asked for your email address, or phone number for text, and it was a painfully slow as it sounded: "Blah Blah Blah (Underscore)" "Wait, underscore?" (shuffles through her small smartphone to find it and enter it) "at Gmail / Yahoo Dot Com".
And the order taker was also the Dessert cutter! So every time one person ahead of us ordered a Dessert, she stopped everything she was doing, put on gloves, took out the Cake, carefully sliced a piece, plated it, delivered it to the customer, took off the gloves and then proceeded to take another order!
And there were no busboys. She she would stop, run back to the kitchen to hand off the actual handwritten orders to the kitchen, and then had to come back again.
I understand that they're just starting out, but seriously, 51 minutes from when the doors opened to take our order was absurd.
But then it got worse.
The name sounded intriguing, but it was just Lemonade, with them throwing whole sprigs of Herbs (Rosemary, Mint) in at the end, so none of those Herbs' flavors ever got into the drink.
So, 2 HOURS later (I'm not joking)...
Fried Chicken Breast - West Coast Plain Heat Level:
A Boneless Chicken Breast arrives. While it's less hassle with Boneless Breast, you lose some of the flavor without the Bones. Their Fried Chicken Breast was a completely salt bomb! I can't believe we waited over 2 HOURS for this!
The crust is super thin, only slightly crunchy, but you're punched in the face by a wave of pure Salt! It was awful. And it was completely overcooked! Dry.
Fried Chicken Leg - Cali Mild:
This is their Level 2 heat, "Cali Mild," and it already had some real heat to it. Mainly a Cayenne Pepper punch, it's spicy and probably about a Level 3 at Howlin' Ray's.
This was thankfully not as salty as their Chicken Breast, and it was juicy. But their crust is almost non-existent in places (like on the Leg):
It's also a bit soft / soggy. There's no crispiness at all.
Fried Chicken Wings - Music City Medium:
Their Level 3 (out of 4) is "Music City Medium." It's extremely spicy, much hotter than Level 3 "Medium" at Howlin' Ray's, but it's an immediate heat. It burns you really fast, but it doesn't linger. (Our mouths stopped burning after a few minutes of stopping, whereas Howlin' Ray's heat stays with you much longer.)
Like the other pieces, the Wings have a very thin Batter (almost non-existent), but what was gross was the inside: Undercooked Wings, with major Blood splotches in all 3 Wings!
Creamy Potato Salad:
Their Potato Salad was awful. Tasted like store-bought, mass-produced, one-note Potato Salad.
Mac 'n Smokin' Cheese:
Their Mac 'n Cheese was even worse. Lukewarm, chunky, not cheesy, nor creamy. It was one of the worst Mac 'n Cheese we've had in years.
We chatted with one person who had been to the real Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville, and they said Hotville wasn't even close to being like Prince's Chicken.
At this point, someone in this kitchen might have gotten the recipes from their relatives at Prince's Hot Chicken, but it takes more than a recipe to get a generations-old dish to be done right.
By the time we finished it took us OVER 3 HOURS from waiting in line (only 20 minutes in line before they opened) to finishing our meal (and we ate fast). The kitchen and the operations are simply a mess right now.
Multiple people were asking for refunds (after waiting over 2 hours, similar to us), and the quality of the product and execution isn't there. We've never been to Nashville to try Prince's, but currently, Hotville Chicken is pretty mediocre Fried Chicken. Avoid at all costs.
Saturdays Only, 12 p.m. Noon - 9 p.m.
643 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (323) 335-0373
Howlin' Ray's (Revisit)
And to confirm our taste buds again (just in case... well, mainly just to have awesome food again... ), off we went to visit Chef Zone and Howlin' Ray's to see how the Chicken is faring. (18th visit?)
They have a new Secret Menu Item! Complimentary Fried Pickles! They were handing them out to some of the customers sitting down.
Wow! These were crispy, crunchy, and the acid from their amazing Pickles were toned down slightly from the quick fry. Fantastic!
Collard Greens (w/ Pork Belly):
Chef Zone has truly perfected their Collard Greens. They were already fantastic every time we've ordered them, but they seem to be getting even better over time! Imagine tender, long-stewed Collard Greens, a perfect balance of tart, salt, lovely porky flavors from the Pork Belly, but not heavy. It tastes like an awesome "Southern Stew" in a way (flavor-wise), but with fantastic tender Greens!
Chef Zone has replaced his Potato Salad with a new Macaroni Salad. He wasn't happy with the consistency (hand chopping Potatoes, different sizes of cubes of Potatoes, etc.), and went with a Macaroni Salad. This, is just as good in many ways: There's a beautiful note of fresh Dill, a wonderful creaminess, and a cooling aspect to this Macaroni Salad (great for cooling you down if you're going for anything above Level 2 Heat ).
Fried Chicken Dark (Leg & Thigh), "Country" Style (Level 1 - No Heat):
And Howlin' Ray's classic Fried Chicken, Level 1 (No Heat). I've run out of words to describe the perfect crispy-crunchy balanced Batter. It's airy, light, not greasy, you get some crunch, and the utter juiciness of the Chicken (Breast, Thigh, Leg and Wings) every single time!
It's clear how talented Chef Zone is, and his training and experience from working with Chef Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsey is in full effect here.
Our favorite Fried Chicken in L.A. Easily! This is SO GOOD!
Fried Chicken Wings, "Medium" Style (Level 3 - "Feel The Burn"):
We wanted to try some decent heat this time (I'm normally fine with Level 2 "Mild"), to compare with Hotville Chicken. Chef Zone's Level 3 Medium is so interesting: It's nuanced spices. It's not just one type of smack of heat. For the Level 3 Medium it's got some immediate heat, but it has a trailing heat as well, lingering in the mouth and throat. There's an almost-sweetness in the way the seasonings are playing with your tastebuds.
It is as crispy-crunchy and delicious as the Leg & Thigh, and has a nice burn. Excellent!
At this point for Fried Chicken in L.A., it's still Howlin' Rays #1, and everything else in another tier far below.
I really hope they open for dinner eventually.
Initial Hours (extended Hours will be added once they settle in):
Wed - Sun
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken
727 N. Broadway Ave #128
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 935-8399