It took six years, but Raph Rashid finally has his chicken. “The plan was always to open a little fried-chicken joint,” says the owner of Beatbox Kitchen and Taco Truck. “Fried chicken was the first thing I ever decided to do. But each new project kind of sidetracked me.”
The most recent distraction was All Day Donuts, the shop he’s been running at his Brunswick headquarters since this time last year. With the opening of Juanita Peaches there’s an extra logo on the window and three nights a week the deep-fryers take a break from swallowing dough to crisp up bits of chicken.
The free-range birds arrive at Juanita whole, to be jointed by Rashid and his crew. This way, the wings actually get a decent bit of meat left on them. The pieces are then brined overnight and dusted in a mixture of potato and self-raising flours, plus salt, pepper, coriander, lemon and cayenne. It’s only mildly spicy.
This will be some of the best fried chicken you’ve ever eaten. It’s moist, zesty and actually tastes like chicken, rather than last week’s oil. It almost doesn’t need the optional honey mustard, chilli vinegar or horseradish cream. But you definitely should try it with them.
In supporting roles there’s fries, a beef taco and three kinds of “burro” – not a donkey, just a kind of slimmed-down burrito which might hold chicken, beans or fish. “It's not a brick,” Rashid says, alluding to the size of a typical Californian-style burrito.
A small fridge is stocked with Rockies sodas, plus cans of Melbourne Bitter and Mornington Pale Ale. There’s also a five-drop wine list, divided up with such descriptions as “White” and “Other White”, but no brand or variety names.
And if you’re wondering about the name Juanita Peaches – no, it has nothing to do with the diner’s country-and-western/hip-hop soundtrack. Actually, one of Rashid’s mates had long planned to christen his first-born girl with it. When the friend had a boy, Rashid decided to keep the name alive. And if a girl comes along later? “She'll be named after my fried-chicken joint!” he says, laughing.
12 Edward Street, Brunswick
(03) 8060 6664
Thu to Sat 5pm‒10pm (may be extended during summer)