There’s more than one way to fry a chicken. Deep-fried, double-fried, soaked in buttermilk, dusted in spices, glazed in hot sauce. Inspired by traditions of the Deep South, Japan, Korea and the Caribbean, perfection is a delicious, crisp crust with succulent and flavoursome meat within.
Whether you’re enjoying it as a snack at the bar after work, or rolling up your sleeves after a big night out, be prepared to get your hands dirty because these fried-chicken dishes are finger-lickin’ good.
For an authentic Southern fried chicken experience you cannot surpass Rockwell & Sons on a Wednesday night (Melbourne’s worst-kept secret). Using a family recipe, North Carolinian Casey Wall serves a whole chicken that has been cut into eight parts, brined for three days and dredged through a seasoned-flour mix before being deep fried. The result is juicy chicken pieces with good crunch. Served with biscuits, devilled eggs and side dishes that change weekly.
Gumbo Kitchen’s permanent diner on Smith Street, is known for its Louisiana-inspired comfort food and its rendition of fried chicken is no exception. Cajun-spiced wings come with a smoky chipotle mayonnaise, and on Thursdays $10 will get you fried chicken and a beer. There’s also a namesake fried chicken po’ boy comprising Cajun-spiced, buttermilk-marinated chicken tenderloins squeezed between a crusty roll and smothered with Louisiana hot sauce.
Belle’s Hot Chicken takes fried chicken to the next level – fine-dining alumni Aaron Turner and Morgan McGlone are serving it up Nashville style with eye-watering heat. Choose your meat (Turner suggests tenderloins to avoid mucking around with bones), choose your heat (novices, start with mild-medium, trust us) and the duo will fry it up before smothering it in a hot paste. Juicy inside and crunchy out, the satanic red colouring might be intimidating, but after one bite, you’ll be hooked.
A late-night bar and supper club known for its Texas-style barbeque and oyster saloon, Le Bon Ton also offers some pretty decent Southern-style fried chicken. Three large, buttermilk-fried chicken tenderloins come with a ramekin of cracked pepper, white gravy and a jalapeno garnish. Tear off a chunk of chicken, douse it in gravy and add a pepper before stuffing it into your mouth.
Proving that you don’t need to be north of the river to make worthy fried chicken, this short-order diner delivers (alas, not literally). Though Parlour Diner is keeping its recipe totally hush-hush, we can definitely report that the product is golden, light, slightly sweet and succulent inside.
This soul-food mecca mixes it up with the addition of waffles and spiced maple. Two icing-sugar-doused, savoury cheddar-and-rosemary waffles fight for room on the plate beside three slightly sweet, buttermilk-brined chicken pieces. Smother the lot with ginger, star anise, cinnamon and lemon-infused spiced maple syrup. Add further heat with the habanero chillies and cayenne spice Hot Stuff sauce.
Brought to you by the Cookie crew, Boney leans away from its Thai siblings, opting for a Japanese-style of fried chicken. Boned chicken thighs are marinated in sake, freshly grated ginger, soya sauce and white pepper, before being tossed through potato flour and deep fried, resulting in a gorgeous snap, crackle and pop. A side of miso mayo and pickled daikon and ginger round out the Japanese flavours.
Fighting Kentucky for the K in KFC, Korean cuisine is synonymous with excellent fried chicken, and Frying Colours is no exception. Offering original, spicy or sweet-soy fried chicken by the half or whole (or half and half if you want to mix things up) it’s the spicy version that really shines. The fiery gachujong will have you reaching for the wasabislaw to soothe the palate.
Tucked away behind Los Barbudos, Jabilli’s Kitchen food truck has been given a makeover, honing in on a Caribbean-Jamaican theme with a purpose-built jerk-down yard. The standout Island Fried Chicken comprises five pieces of chicken marinated in a light jerk seasoning that includes orange juice and pineapple, served with rum-pickled vegetables, preserved lemon, mint yoghurt and chilli sauce. A multi-layered flavour sensation, cleanse the palate with sugary Kool-Aid, then begin the process all over again.
No fried-chicken round-up would be complete without Gami Chicken & Beer, a Melbourne institution for late-night, post-drinking indulgence. Down thin crust, Korean-style fried chicken in original, sweet chilli, soy garlic or spicy sauce with a pitcher of “famous house beer” to truly further the experience.