A wise person in our office once said “I feel like fried chicken is great because you can easily have it, like, twice a day”, and to that we say, why not three times? Few things have the same kind of presence that fried chicken does in London. From six hot wings for three quid to crispy bags of Taiwanese crunch, these are the spots to head to when you’re craving fried chicken.
People typically reserve looking in the distance and saying “when you know, you know” for justifying going back to their ex for the fifth time, but nothing could be truer or more applicable when seeing a piece of perfectly crunchy fried chicken. You just know. You know by looking at the perfectly crisp golden batter. You know from the first crunchy bite. You know from the perfectly imperfect tower of chicken of all shapes and sizes. And you’ll know from the taste of this excellent Korean fried chicken in New Malden, that it’s some of the best you’ve eaten. With seven different flavours, you can choose from honey butter, garlic soya, or yangnyeom, and although it’s on the pricey side - starting at £16.90 for a box of fried original - the portions are very generous, so it’s ideal for a sharing situation.
Inconsistency is a perennial problem when it comes to fried chicken, but not when it comes to Bao’s Taiwanese fried chicken. The batter is light but significant, more rain jacket than parka, and the ratio of white meat to crunch is pretty, pretty good. Hot sauce-wise, we’re talking a sharp vinegary number drizzled on top. Ask for some extra on the side and ask for another portion of chicken after your first. Four or five pieces won’t touch the sides.
The chicken broasted at this excellent Syrian spot in Willesden Green is the kind of thing you’d happily travel across London to get your hands on. There’s just so much about it that’s great. From the crunchy, sweet breading that clings to every succulent piece of meat, to the selection of pickles, the pot of creamy toum, and the chipped potatoes that come with it, it’s moving and memorable stuff. You might be tempted to get a single-person half-chicken order for £6. Don’t. The spices in this chicken make it taste even better the next day, so you have to make sure you have plenty for leftovers. Also, at £10 for a whole chicken, it’s one of the best financial decisions you can make in London.
The south London fried chicken shop chain is an undisputed heavyweight when it comes to consistent (and consistently absurd value) hot wings and pieces fried and coated in their peppery spice mix. A single spicy wing will cost you 80p or so and it’s pretty much an always good way to spend a few quid.
An order of Dominican fried chicken at La Barra is the food equivalent of a football testimonial. It is a glorious celebration of the fact that you will be doing absolutely eff all for the foreseeable. A five piece plate of chicken - humbly named considering it comes with plantain, a pile of chicharrones, and looks like it could feed you through an apocalypse - costs £12. And that’s an absolute snip considering the chicken, coated in a thick vortex of indefinable crunch, is superb. Just don’t forget to drizzle it with lemon, get some homemade chilli sauce on the side, and cancel all plans.
Okay, let’s get down to the facts about Kricket’s Keralan fried chicken. Keralan cuisine is known for its use of chillies, curry leaves, and turmeric. Another fact: chicken thighs taste fantastic when marinated in all of the above. This go-to dish at Kricket packs a serious punch of spice, and the skin has a crunchy, almost dusty, texture - in the best way possible. We’re also entirely obsessed with the highly-dippable curry leaf mayonnaise that comes on the side.
Equal parts sauce and crunch, the yangnyeom Korean fried chicken from On The Bab is something we’ve had a problem with for some time. Not a problem problem, but certainly an eat-12-pieces-without-blinking-problem. The chicken is perfectly moist and it’s batter shield is still crispy, despite being smothered in a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce. That sauce, by the way, is bone-dunkingly good.
Chick ’n Sours will always hold a special place in our hearts (and stomach rumblings), thanks to saucy wings and its crispy thighs.The K-Pop, a behemoth of a sandwich, is a whole fried chicken thigh topped with slaw and gochujang mayo, while the wings are thick with batter and smothered in kung pao or chilli fish sauce.
Even if your go-to chicken shop order is pieces, a burger, or strips, there’s no way you want to miss out on the hot wings at Eden’s Cottage. In fact, if you’re around Finsbury Park and getting your hot wings somewhere else, you’re missing out. They’re consistently excellent at this low-key takeaway - the bread coating is never greasy, there’s always the perfect amount of crunch, and the chicken itself packs the kind of subtle heat you only get with an expert marinade. That you can still get six for just £3 is an added extra.
Smoking Goat’s chilli fish sauce wings are up there with the very best in London. They’re sweet, they’re sour, they’ve got a crunch that can do serious damage to the top of your mouth, and the sauce - golden in colour and in feeling - is something we’d happy pour all over ourselves.
The now well-known Taiwanese chicken spot in Chinatown lives to serve London’s crispy chicken needs. We like the popcorn best, or you can get a big old flattened, crispy, breast if you’re really hungry. After that, the only decision to make is which of the 11 seasonings you should shake over your chicken. Plum and chilli is our move.