Juicy, Crispy Japanese Fried Chicken Made with Love and Care - Pikunico - Grand Opening [Thoughts + Pics]


#22

Went today and had the ‘classic’ 3 pc chicken thigh. Keep in mind these are small boneless thighs. Very juicy, natural tasting (no brine flavor) chicken. Pretty sure I fall on the other end of the salt spectrum from @Chowseeker1999 and felt they could have used a little more somewhere in therie. The crust didn’t stand out but no obvious faults. What really was a highlight for the juicy thighs were sauces -the parsley almost like a japanese gremolata was fabulous with the chicken as was the ponzu. Yuzu-aide was excellent nicely balances not too sweet or tart.

Hit up Hidden House Coffee after for a Cortado, My first time there and really excellent. Will return. Over all I really enjoy walking around the Row DTLA complex and wish I had set aside more time to do so.

For me Pikunico is good but not close to the level of Howlin Ray’s but def worth checking out.


#23

Hi @aaqjr,

Thanks for the report back. Yah, we really liked how juicy they were. I don’t really compare it to Howlin’ since that’s American Fried Chicken (w/ all sorts of amazing Nashville-style heat levels (that all taste different)).

For Karaage, I think Pikunico’s are pretty standout compared to most places we’ve tried recently (various Izakaya, etc.). Yah and we loved the sauces as well. :slight_smile:


#24

Update 1:

We suddenly felt an urge for more crispy Japanese Fried Chicken so off we went… :wink:

Walking in, Chef Kuniko Yagi was still in the house, cooking and prepping along with her staff.

Housemade Yuzu-ade:

Wonderful. Same as before: Japanese Yuzu CItrus imparts such a distinct lightly floral, aromatic note to each sip. So refreshing. :slight_smile:

(Fried Chicken) Wing Basket (3 Whole Wings):

For this follow-up visit, the batter on the Fried Chicken Wings were noticeably crunchier (nice!), with the Chicken Wing interior still moist and cooked just through. It was a touch more savory than before, which was still spot-on and delicious. :blush:

Daikon Ponzu Oroshi, Parsley & Sesame Sauce, Lemon Aioli:

The 3 Housemade Sauces are still excellent, adding an additional layer of flavor and really changing up how the Fried Chicken Wings turn out. We liked all 3 Sauces this time, but our favorite might be the Parsley & Sesame Sauce. :slight_smile:

Ginger Onigiri (Seasoned Steamed Rice Ball, Soy Sauce, Ginger, Garlic):

The Ginger Onigiri still had the soft Nori (Seaweed) wrapper, unfortunate, but the actual Seasoned Ginger Rice was delicate, with a subtle Ginger note and savoriness.

Pikunico Slaw (Cabbage, Kale, Red Onion, Seasonal Vegetable, Sesame Vinaigrette):

Their Pikunico Slaw was even more savory and tasty than before! :open_mouth: :blush: I don’t know what magic Chef Kuniko is doing here, but she somehow makes all of those simple ingredients combine together into something far greater than the individual parts.

Outstanding Coleslaw, tasting nothing like the usual renditions. :slight_smile:

Classic (Fried Chicken) (3 Pieces of Thigh):

Chef Kuniko has been adjusting the batter on her Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken). During the Grand Opening, it was all crispiness, with no crunch, which was fine. Taking a bite on this visit, there’s a noticeable crunch and crispiness! :blush:

Also, perhaps taking feedback from @aaqjr or others, her Karaage today was slightly more savory (but not overly salty (not even close), and still quite delicious! :blush: It was still so juicy, with a more robust flavor coming through that it could be enjoyed on its own, without the 3 Housemade Sauces.

And all 3 Sauces worked quite well as well: The Lemon Aioli might’ve finally hooked me, definitely conjuring up memories of eating Karaage with Kewpie. :smile:

Taking another bite, they are just so satisfying and well prepared and flavored, they are our favorite Karaage in L.A. right now! So good! :heart:

Fingerling Fries (with Negi Salt):

Deeply earthy, tasting of real Potato flavor (sometimes you get those Fries that just taste like salt and crunch (which isn’t bad), but here, it tastes like you’re enjoying a hybrid of a Baked Potato and French Fry in some ways. I love her Negi Salt. :slight_smile:

(Secret Menu) Zosui (Housemade Chicken Rice Soup)(!!!):

It finally happened! We had mentioned to Chef Kuniko how amazing her Chicken Egg Drop Soup might be if it was the basis of a Zosui (Japanese Rice Porridge / Soup), and she said multiple customers asked her about this, and on this visit, she was making Zosui as a secret menu item! Woo hoo!

Taking a sip: SERIOUSLY.

That perfectly balanced, soulful, heartwarming Housemade Chicken Broth with tender chunks of Free-Range Chicken, Egg, Green Onions and then cooked down with her Ginger Rice.

It is OUTSTANDING! :heart: :heart: :heart:

Definitely the best Zosui we have right now in L.A., and Chef Kuniko was just doing this on the side. (@bulavinaka @J_L @PorkyBelly and others don’t miss out on this.) :blush:

We’re glad the Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) is still excellent at Pikunico. Chef Kuniko seems to be iterating on her Grand Opening batter and seasoning, with a slightly more crunchy (but still crispy) exterior, and more savoriness in the meat, while still delivering juicy, tasty Karaage that stands out from the competition.

Add in the excellent, more refined (and better tasting) Pikunico Slaw and that Zosui (if it’s not available, don’t miss out on her Chicken Drop Soup instead), and you have the makings of a new rising star in L.A.

Pikunico
767 S. Alameda Street, Suite 122
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 278-0407

http://www.pikunico.com/


#25

My 3 piece thighs was not very good. One piece was DRY as fuck. None were crispy or well seasoned.
Fries - great
Slaw - ok

Maybe a bad batch.


#26

Hi @CiaoBob,

That’s terrible. Sorry to hear. :frowning: did you bring it up with the staff? Definitely give them feedback.

This second visit was just as good as the first for us. I overheard them asking some customers as they left how the meal was, if they had suggestions.


#27

Loved everything here except the fried chicken.

Sweet potato salad, egg drop soup and eponymous cabbage slaw are ridiculous. Fried chicken, not so much.


#28

Thanks for the report @ipsedixit. How did the Karaage turn out? What didn’t you like about it? Thanks. (And love their chicken egg drop soup and the slaw! Glad you liked those items.) :slight_smile:


#29

Agree (but did not have the soup).
The chicken sucks.


#30

Only had the thighs, but they were very bland and chewy (not in a good way). Reminded me of a Whole Foods Rotisserie Chicken. Ever had those things? The words “chewy” “bland” and “stringy” are all adjectives that come to mind. It’s what I’d imagine a waif Rotisserie Chicken would taste like

The real redeeming quality of the Pikunico chicken is that they are a fabulous excuse to slurp up the ponzu oroshi dipping sauce.

Call me crazy but I much prefer the karaage at Marugame Monzo.


#31

Thanks @ipsedixit. Bummer. Seems like they lack quality control (or are already handing off the cooking to other lesser skilled staff).


#32

When I was there Sergio was there.
The scraps of thigh were small and dry.
There was virtually no flavor to the coating/crust and it left a filmy taste on the tongue and in the mouth. There was no crispiness factor.
It was not tasty fried chicken to me.
Might be that the Gluten Free nature of the coating-crust is just is not for me.


#33

Just came back from a quick dinner here. Overall, a mixed bag and I’m surprised how different all the experiences have been so far.
We got slaw, sweet potato salad, 3 piece thigh basket with onigiri, and egg drop soup.
Overall, the texture of the sides was sublime, the potato salad was creamy, but interspersed with a few chunks of unincorporated potato that broke up the sameness. The slaw had a bright crispiness and it just tasted fresh, despite us arriving almost as they closed. Still, for me, the flavors were not super impressive. The sweet potato salad, and this is probably just a personal thing, was just too sweet which is unusual because I usually like the Japanese/Korean style potato salads that have a good does of sweetness. The slaw was too salty, which was really disappointing.
I was really excited to try the egg drop soup, but it tasted under salted and overall, with the exception of the small pieces of chicken, didn’t really have much of a chicken flavor at all. The egg in the soup was delicious though, almost custardy in texture.

The chicken itself I thought was slightly undersalted but texturally and flavor wise it was fantastic. It was crisp and juicy, with a perfect crust (and I think I could taste dashi in the chicken? It was smokey and delicious). The onigiri were wonderful, perfectly cooked rice with a distinct but not overpowering flavor of ginger. My partner thought they could have been slightly dryer, because they fell apart in her hands but I don’t know if that is something that onigiri should not do.


#34

Thanks for the report back @AlwaysHungry. Yah, we had the same feeling about sweet potato salad (as noted in my post above): Like you, I have an image / expectation of what “potato salad” is, so when you taste something sweet (naturally sweet from the sweet potatoes), it just throws off my expectations and it’s a turnoff for me. :sweat_smile:

But bummer about your slaw being a bit too salty and the chicken being slightly not enough for you. Glad to hear your karaage had a great crust and was crisp and juicy.


#35

The food was rather enjoyable given the price but Chef Kuniko, who was in the weeds the entire time I was there, clearly needed more help in the kitchen. I sat for almost 30 mins before I got my food…


Busy as hell on Sunday and the restaurant was really stuffy.


sweet potato salad | sweet potato, broccolini, ume creme, pumpkin seeds, lemon vinaigrette
Great texture contrast between the soft but chunky potato salad, crunchy chopped greens and crispy pumpkin seeds. But like many noted, the potato salad’s too sweet. It needs to be topped with more greens to tone down the sweetness.


seaweed & cucumber salad | wakame, cucumber, watermelon radish, arugula, ponzu vinaigrette
A very fresh and fine salad. Tons of crunch from the cucumber and radish which goes well against the tender wakame.


pikunico slaw | cabbage, kale, red onion, seasonal vegetable, sesame vinaigrette
A touch salty but another flavorful salad with just the right crunch. I’m starting to see a theme here. :smile:


chicken egg drop soup | house-made chicken broth, chicken, egg, green onion
Not particularly strong in chicken flavor but tasted quite comforting and homey especially with the fluffy egg drop.


ginger onigiri | seasoned steamed rice ball, soy sauce, ginger, garlic
The delightful essence of chicken engulfed each rice grain with mild ginger and garlic notes. I just wish the seaweed isn’t soggy.


fried chicken | chicken thigh, fingerling fries
Fans of Tokyo Fried Chicken will notice that the chicken here can be more juicy and the crust can be much more crunchy and crispy. But it doesn’t mean that the fried chicken’s bad here. The chicken itself is already brined and crust at Pikunico is quite flavorful but a little lacking in crunchiness and crispiness department. Perhaps the lack of flour have something to do with it since the fried chicken is gluten free here? Anyway, the parsley sesame dipping is really good!

Fries is a hit and miss here with some being crispy and some just plain soggy.


golden chicken sandwich | golden tumeric bun, pickled daikon, watercress, alfalfa sprouts, lemon aioli, jalepeno, miso jam
I really enjoyed the chicken sandwich here. The combination of miso jam and spicy jalepeno really kicked the sandwich up a few notches.


miso de leche cookie | shorbread cookie with miso de leche and matcha powder
Buttery. Crunchy. Sweet. Salty. A touch of bitterness. What’s not to like?


#36

Sounds like an episode of Top Chef


#37

Catch the all new episode of The Last Chance Kitchen…


#38

Thanks for the report back @moonboy403. Wow, that looked super busy compared to the last 3 times we went (which was about 75% full). Yah I think the gluten-free consideration might be what’s reducing the amount of crispiness she can achieve with that chicken, but compared to Karaage (not regular American fried chicken), it was one of the best ones we’ve tried recently (better than most local izakaya’s Karaage).

Totally agree that Chef Kuniko should consider using regular potatoes (and not sweet potatoes) for the potato salad.


#39

Congratulations @Chowseeker1999 you’re famous. Evan mentioned your review of the chicken soup. Don’t forget us lil folk when you become big.


#40

Soon in the “overheard” thread: “can I get this karaage grilled instead?”


#41

Thanks @PorkyBelly. I don’t think Evan was talking about me. :sweat_smile: But if she was, I wished she had mentioned Food Talk Central. It might’ve been a great opportunity to get some exposure for our tiny little forum, in the hopes of reuniting with our lost friends and other posters when we transitioned from our old board. :cry: (@Servorg! @Dasubergeek! and so many others)