Victoria has an odd thing going on with fried chicken. In the past few years we’ve welcomed several new bird-dedicated restaurants, and though we still run a surprising deficit of traditional southern-fried chicken spots, there’s been an awesome glut of Korean-style joints of late and even an option for Nashville Hot. So we decided to take a birds-eye view and mapped it all out. Which is best? That’s up to you…
If you have an opinion as to which of the following is best, please vote in the poll below. We can vouch for the varied finger-licking deliciousness of every restaurant, no matter how they stack up.
Aside from having a brilliant name, Thunderbird nails the Korean-style on several fronts; from spiced and non-spiced gan-jang (Korean soy sauce) to padak (sweet soy mustard glaze with loads of green onion) to signature salty “Thunder Original”, there’s tasty variety to play with. Though they do a brisk take-out trade, it’s also a nice room to hang in as it still exudes the 50’s diner vibe from when the space used to be Rosie’s Diner.
Located in the old Matisse address on lower Yates, Chimac (a Korean portmanteau of “chicken” and “beer”) is a personal favourite on account of how wild it can get. It has a boisterous pub vibe and some unique table situations (woody booth nooks), but the star is the fried chicken, which comes in several guises. I’ll always go for the original with its underlying hooks of salt, pepper, ginger and garlic, but if I’m already a few drinks into the evening I will opt for the spicy chili version, which puts the zap on my sinuses and sends me back into the game.
The house original here might be the crunchiest of the Korean-fried options in town. It’s on a deep menu that includes oddities like cilantro and lime and a decadently cheesy bechamel mess that might be taken by some as an affront to winged creatures everywhere. The sticky/spicy/sweet yang-nyeom style looks more fiery than it is with its neon-red fear factor glaze, but it’s a damn fine punch to the palate and it sure as hell makes you feel alive.
Empire is the best thing to happen to Cook Street Village since Prima Strada opened in the summer of 2008. When Trees launched their short-lived cannabis dispensary around the corner it was as if a golden light was being cast upon the block — the two operations like natural lovers once cast asunder finally reunited. No mind, there’s still joy in the fried chicken, which can be given a mouth-watering, lard-free heat dust in the Nashville Hot style (best chased with a butter toffee pecan donut).
Chicken on the Run was there for me so often when I was in my adolescence. A high school friend was one of their delivery drivers and she often shared the wealth! Marinated, dredged and pressure fried, the “broasted” style of fried chicken is an indulgence with a distinct taste, a not too greasy finger-feel and a loyal following. At over 25 years old, it’s become an enduring icon.
Doing proper BBQ is hard — the labour and love that goes into it is like a fetish. Those who take it on can’t slack when making brisket, sausage and ribs. At Jones they do it right, so it’s no surprise that they nail southern-style fried chicken too. This is salty, juicy, crispy and all-around delicious stuff. Bonus: it’s gluten-free if you’re into that kind of thing. Unrelated extra bonus: watermelon margaritas.