Fried Chicken and Me.

Yangnyeom chicken, Korean style fried chicken

Mmm… Fried Chicken.

I LOVE Fried Chicken. I think most people know this about me. I’ve always loved fried chicken, along with fried fish, most likely from growing up around the beautiful city of Baltimore.

The thing that most people don’t realize is that fried chicken, in all its greasy glory, isn’t the same everywhere you go. It’s not even the same across your state. Southern fried chicken has a thicker crust, uses rendered pork fat/lard, and is sometimes served with gravy. Gravy goes with everything in my opinion. Southwestern chicken or South American chicken often has a hint of spices &  pepper. But my favorite chicken is probably ghetto fried chicken, accompanied by waffles, fried lake trout/whiting/catfish, and either hot sauce or mambo sauce.

So what’s the difference between good chicken and bad chicken. KFC is NOT good fried chicken. Actually it’s not even chicken. It’s some sort of genetic cross between a polar bear and a cloned embryo of a chicken. These mutant monster birds are specifically designed to appeal to the largest possible consumer base, and are therefore completely tasteless, unappetizing and disturbingly disproportionate.

Popeye‘s is better than KFC by far but is still made for the the average consumer. They use the same mutant chickens but at least the chicken is usually fresh and juicy. If you really need a fried chicken fix and there isn’t anything else around, I’m not gonna fault you for picking up a 8 or 12 piece box of Popeye’s.

Good chicken is very hard to come by. Whether it’s fried chicken or chicken wings, there are so many horrible variations out there that most people don’t even know the difference anymore. We’re all guilty of eating chicken wings out of a freezer bag or getting a box of greasy over-sauced wings with our pizza delivery. Fried chicken drummies from 7-11 shouldn’t even be considered a food. Unless you’ve spent the time to search through countless online reviews, delivery sites and restaurants, you’ll probably never stumble across the perfect piece of juicy, crispy, golden fried chicken.

Well not anymore! It’s time for you to taste the difference. For your consideration I’ve chosen a few choice locations, all located within 10 min of Columbia, Maryland. If you live somewhere else… too bad, I can’t help you. The best advice I have for you is to imagine the differences I’m about to list, taking the time to remember what things you like and dislike about each variety of delectable poultry. Then try to find something similar in your area. On to the list!

BonChon Chicken: If you haven’t caught on by now, Korean fried chicken is the new KFC. It’s awesome. I thought it was all a gimmick when I first heard about their chicken wings but was an instant devotee the second I bit into a fresh, juicy, crispy, aromatic, perfectly seasoned chicken leg.  Instead of flash frying the meat to death like most other bars/carry-out restaurants, they slowly and carefully cook their wings at a relatively low temperature in order to get the meat to separate from the skin. This process causes the skin to blend with the batter to create a puffy, crispy, slightly greasy crust that protects the meat inside from drying out. This is just in preparation for final cooking. The wings are then lightly dunked in very hot oil before serving, and quickly basted with a brush in either a sweet soy-garlic sauce or a combination chili oil. Amazing.

Either flavor is explosive, without being TOO greasy or making the skin soggy. The delicate puffy skin even manages to stay crispy after being tossed in the refrigerator a couple of times. That’s the biggest thing isn’t it? Don’t you hate when your leftovers become mushy and tasteless after going into the microwave? I do, and these don’t. BonChon is relatively new to our area, with the only location in a 50 mile radius being in a terrible location in Ellicott City. Stuffed in the corner of a lonely strip mall behind the Crab Shanty, next to Sarafino’s.

Try them and let me know what you think. I would easily rate these as the best chicken wings in the DMV.

Chick n’ Friends: If you’re looking for fine dining, this definitely ISN’T it. Located in the Long Reach Village Center area of Columbia, Maryland, this is by far the worst village center in the area. It looks like a vacant strip mall in the middle of Baltimore, with boarded up windows and closed businesses. Your probably still trying to wrap your mind around it so here’s a little help.

Wilde Lake Village Center has tennis courts, indoor swimming pools, the Melting Pot, an organic grocery store, the Bagel Bin, some ghetto Chinese restaurant (Emperor Tso’s Hunan Warrior???), and Omaha Steaks. King’s Contrivance Village Center has an absolutely delicious family-owned Italian restaurant, Rita’s Ice(!), Harris Teeter‘s and a very classy wine/liquor/cigar shop. Harper’s Choice has a family-owned Mexican restaurant (Zapata’s), Safeway, the Athletic Club gym, Papa John’s, a family-owned Afghan-restaurant (Maiwand Kabob), Bank of America and a locally-owned Korean dry cleaners.

Long Reach has nothing of the sort. The sole saving grace of the entire shopping center is Chick ‘n Friends, a place so ghetto the R in Friends stopped working months ago and they haven’t fixed it. So it’s now called Chick ‘n Fiends. Which I think is a reasonable assumption. Basically, the normal clientage of this restaurant include drug dealers, drug addicts, and South American/Asian immigrants.

But who cares what the outside looks like, that’s only thinking skin deep. The true beauty of this little fried chicken shop is the fact that the chicken is melt in your mouth tender, like Colonel Sanders used to make it. The heart and soul of the restaurant is it’s reasonable prices, hand-cut, fresh-as-hell chicken pieces, delicate, flaky fried fish and homemade sides. They make Belgian waffles too, and there are few things as good as a bite of sweet syrupy waffle, mixed with salty greasy broasted chicken.

Ah, the wonders of broasted chicken. Fresh chicken cooked at just the right constant temperature in a Henny Penny with a pressurized cap is the mountain top of fried chicke.n. The holy grail of Friolated Arts. This is known as broasted chicken. When done right, it will not even resemble those awful chain restaurant concoctions, it will crunch beneath your teeth as you bite through the paper-thin delectable skin. Juice will drip off your chin and mouth, and that’s perfectly ok. The aroma of gently seasoned chicken will flood your nostrils as your teeth melt through the steaming meat.

If it sounds like this is too good to be true, you haven’t even tried their sides. There is such a stark comparison between homemade sides and regular packaged crap that you won’t even know there was such a difference until you bite into a mouthful of porky, salty greens or crunchy coleslaw. They even make handmade sweet potato/pumpkin pies, served stark naked and quivering. They also make fresh southern-style sweet tea in a large Styrofoam cup, or by the gallon.

Trust me, there is nothing better in the area. So either park in the parking lot and order it directly from the counter, or now you can actually order this simple good thing and have it delivered by using Carryoutmenu.com. I don’t usually like using this service since they not only charge you 5 dollars a delivery, they also charge 20% to the restaurant in question. Per order. LivingSocial.com’s fees are even worse to the small business, but there are places like Grubhub.com or Delivery.com that give you more bang for your buck. AND a pick-a-card game every few orders that gives away discounts and FREE FOOD!

By now you’ve realized that I am completely insane for food. I have probably ordered every type of possible food in my life, from Ethiopian to Cambodian and everything in between. Nothing is more satisfying than stuff from my mom’s house(a professional chef), or great fried chicken. If you live in the area and you enjoy finding little gems that can rival fine dining, without the price tag, I’m your guy. You can reach me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/kyarnboy or on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/kyarnboy. Feel free to drop me a message anytime.

Onto my final recommendation of the article. Sometimes the places I mentioned will be closed. I’m pretty sure Chick n’ Fiends is closed by 10pm daily, while BonChon stays open til 12am (Until they get their bar license. It’s BYOB Btw.) So what can satisfy that craving for good fried chicken at, let’s say, 3 in the morning?

Royal Farms: Don’t look at me funny. I’m almost positive that if you live within 300 miles of Columbia, there’s gotta be a Royal Farms nearby. Yes, the same place you can buy gas at sometimes, or cigarettes or magazines. Even though there are hundreds of these convenience stores, and even though some convenience store clerk is going to serve you your fried chicken, there’s no denying it. Their chicken is DAMN GOOD.

The key is that they fry their chicken in peanut oil. They have automated Henny Penny-fryers, so even the convenience store clerk can’t fuck up your order.  Don’t even bother wondering if you can get a healthy-version, I promise you there is no such thing. It’s bad for you, but oh so good. For around 12 dollars you can grab an 8 piece chicken with 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and you guessed it, 2 breasts.

Did I mention the western fries? These bear no resemblance to those nasty little dry sticks you get from most drive-thrus. They are real potatoes cut into wedges, boiled and finally fried quickly. They use very little batter, so the outside is crispy and aromatic while the inside is hot, starchy and comforting. As long as your calling a Mulligan on your diet for the night, you might as well grab these with a side of gooey cheddar cheese sauce. Eat both the chicken and the western fries while they are still hot, they won’t taste nearly as good after hitting the fridge. Grab a milkshake/smoothie from the Royal Farms-automated milkshake machine and your set. (The ones with fruit flavors are a WHOLE lot healthier than the ones with cookies or smores or candy in them. Just FYI.)

You can’t really beat that in the middle of the night without taking a lot of time to drive to a diner. If you live in my area, you realize there’s only a few choices at that time of night anyways:

Simmies aka: Airiang Hill Cheese Steaks (In the Harper’s Choice area, next to the hospital),

Double-T Diner(15 minutes away in Baltimore County, off Route 40),

Denny’s (In Laurel, off Route 1, or In Arundel Mills, go left off route 1 instead of towards the mall),

or Honey Pig(24/7 Korean BBQ in the Centennial area, also off Route 40).

They all have their merits, especially Simmie’s Ehson’s Special, a 6-inch cheese steak or cheeseburger sub and 5 mambo wings w/ fries. I can’t even begin to tell you all the nights I got drunk as hell after going to the bar/club, and had to make an emergency stop at Simmies for an Ehson’s Special. The mambo sauce is a guarded secret, and good as hell. Simmie stacks paper to the ceiling off those wings. Honey Pig is the best Korean BBQ your going to get at 3am without cooking it yourself. Denny’s is, well, Denny’s, and Double-T has the hugest selection of random food you’ll ever find, and fresh baked goods. All of these are also open 24/7 except Simmies, which I believe closed at 2 or 3am.

For me, however, nothing beats fried chicken, and nothing tops the 3 choices I wrote about above. I’m so sure you will enjoy them that  I would be willing to bet them against fried chicken from any other region of the country. Yes, Bojangles and Church’s Chicken included. There’s only one way you’ll ever know though. Go grab a piece and send me a comment when you do.

~Wong_83@Hotmail.com

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Man vs Wild: Survival or a Total Crock of ()$#!

Let me begin by saying I absolutely love watching both Survivorman AND Man vs Wild, with the edge going to Man vs Wild because the show’s host’s name is Bear Grylls.

Bear Grylls? Awesome name, Awesome english or welsh accent, who doesn’t like a show host with those attributes? There is only one exception to a TV host with a similar accent.

His name is Simon from the hit show, American Idol. What a total douchebag! He has been proven wrong time and time again and what makes it worse-he continues to be the complete snotbag he’s always been.

Back to Bear and Man vs Wild.

If you don’t know the premise of the show, Man vs Wild is supposedly a semi-realistic TV show based on Bear being sent to insane and mostly death-assured, remote places on planet earth.

During these adventures, Bear and usually a single camera-man use natural resources to replicate and show numerous ways that a person, stranded in a variety of wildernesses, could survive and even perhaps reach civilization and therefore be rescued.

During these replications, Bear often has to forage and/or hunt a variety of animals, insects and vegetation, sometimes having to choose whether or not to eat said object(s).

Now I do not have any objection in the least to who or what he chooses to eat. What really got on my nerves happened during Episode 2, Season 9, the Dominican Republic.

In this show, Bear and his camera-man came across a wild fowl, some stinking remnant brought to the Dominican Republic by thoughtless, disease-ridden European explorers.

Bear finds some random heavy stick out of the foliage and proceeds to sneak up on the unsuspecting creature, finally managing to ‘stun’ or ‘crush’ it after multiple attempts.

He proceeds to hand clean the bird, ripping feathers, entrails and what not. His field dressing is just fine and in no way strays from the expected actions of what someone in his situation SHOULD do.

He then does the unthinkable, pulls his field knife out and tears out the breast of the bird, tossing the rest of the carcass to the ground.

I guess some hungry animal would have a very excellent meal.

Are you kidding me?! Why, in a survival situation, would you tear out and cook/eat ONLY the breast, the leanest and least-nutritious portion of the carcass?

The legs, the organ-meat, the brain, any of the fatty portions and even the belly/ribcage meat would have made a much more fundamentally correct meal to eat given the horrid and nearly-impossible survival situation Bear is supposed to be in.

It doesn’t stop at that.

In other episodes he takes a bite of organ-meat, particular a sheep’s heart in Ireland, and then takes only the most delicious part of the corpse to cook later over his -survival- camp-fire, the tenderloin.

I know it’s probably just to make good television, but in my opinion, from the view of someone who has watched and enjoyed just about every show ever made on survival or people attempting to portray the correct way to survive in hostile situations, WHY oh why wouldn’t you just eat the whole bird or eat the whole sheep’s heart.

All I know is this.

If I were in a horrible situation in which I had almost no chance to live, I would have eaten just about every bit of that damn bird/sheep.

At least the bits that wouldn’t make me sick and/or were rotten.

-Kyarnboy, wong_83@hotmail.com


Random retarded thoughts from restaurant.

Honestly, do any of you really like Kabobs. Like “REALLY” like kabobs, not just “meeeeh, they aite.” Look at it this way, a kabob, by definition, is some variety of meat/vegetable or both typically skewered on the end of a long pointy metal or wooden stick. Some mundane Afghan versions of the kabob include: 1. Kofka ‘bab – ground beef mixed with assorted spices. Hurray, that’s out of the ordinary.  2. Chicken ‘bab – zomgz zomgz, chunks of “chicken” on a stick.  Similar to a satay except imo the satay tastes better and is smaller. 3. Lamb ‘bab – I bet you can guess whats on this stick. 😀

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t HATE kabobs. They are just generic food. Like you eat them when you have nothing better to eat. It’s also pretty expensive to eat kabobs, for some nasty rice with raisins in it, some salad with questionable sauce on it and kabob, it costs like 9-11 bucks. I can eat MAD food at some other place for 9-11 bucks. Or feed a family of 5 at Mcdonalds.

Now I know that in certain places in the world, the kabob is probably a blessing from the gods, especially when you and your family have been starving for 9 months out of the year, and you sacrificed your only pet goat to feed your family. Can you guess what they call that dish? “Goat ‘bab.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you put the chunks of meat on a pointy stick you won’t burn your hands as you pull the prehistoric delicacies out of the fire.

Let me cite you a few examples.

Italian food, in the form that we know it, ie. Pasta, Olive oil, Artisan bread and cheeses, has been around for at LEAST 800 years. Probably closer to 1000 years. That is 1000 years that they have used to make any and all of their favorite dishes into culinary masterpieces that are beloved around the world.

Chinese food, NOT in the form that we know it (here in the US), ie. Spectacular sauces and flavor combinations that are easy to make and even easier to eat, has existed for well over 2500 years. I’m not talking about the sauce you get on your General Tso’s Chicken, exactly, but you get the point. Ever go eat dim sum at a chinese restaurant? I’m talking about marinated chicken feet, buns stuffed with curried chicken or roast pork, tender pan-fried radish cakes and so many different dumplings, each with it’s own special sauce.

So let’s recap. Meat and the occasional small chunk of onion or pepper on a stick or……. AMAZING DUMPLINGS WITH THEIR OWN SAUCE.  Which one would I rather eat? Unless your a barbarian with a club wearing some stinkin’ animal rags, your probably gonna pick choice b.

Now, just for the record, right next door to where I work there is a kabob place and we are very good friends with them. They are not bad people, they are very nice. I have nothing but good things to say about them as friends and people. But ANYONE, EVERYONE, little kids, retarded people, monkeys, whoever knows how to make a kabob. They just don’t call it a kabob, they call it what it is, meat on a long stick. It’s not so much a cuisine as a tool so you do not hurt your fingers in the fire that you use to cook. I think every race and culture has made something like that, close to when we used to have fur and could not speak.  The only difference is that with time, over thousands of years, they seem to be the only race that takes pride in not evolving.

I am sorry my friends, if you are reading this, I ❤ you. No hard feelings, maybe you should think up new ways to cook.

Guy Fieri and Tyler Florence: Long lost siblings from birth

Oh, where to begin…

I have watched food network shows for a very long time, I believe the show that really got me into the channel was the original Iron Chef series, which has now been revamped and turned into Iron Chef America(Which is not quite as good IMHO). I’m just gonna say what alot of people are thinking and blow the lid off this elephant in the room. What the hell is wrong with these two so-called chefs?

Let’s start with Guy Fieri, the gayish looking dude with the blond spiky hair. His show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is the actual dive, in which he travels around the country gorging himself on every greasy, typically fried, substance he can find, all while food network foots the bill. It must have been a bad day at the office… like really bad, when the people in charge of putting the new line-up for the season decided to actually put this show on the air. No offense to the probably very hard-working, dedicated food service people who he interviews on a weekly basis, but the show doesn’t really do any of them credit anyways.

If that was just the one thing that Guy was remembered for, I wouldn’t really be raising a fuss. Sure it’s bad, but whatever, it’s not on me. Someone else has to look like a complete idiot for that decision.

No, there’s more.

Somehow the spiky blond short, somewhat chunky dude wrangled himself a chance to do a television ad, and although his culinary prowess is always in question when his idea of good food is a mint mud pie covered in “crushed oreos” (some random episode of Dinner Impossible), it certainly has been kicked and tossed into an early grave when he got into bed with the gigantic restaurant conglomerate, TGIF.

For those of you who don’t watch the travel channel, a certain show host of the No Reservations series, not naming names, calls TGIF quote: T-G-I-McFunsters. Not only is the food there a horrid mockery of the different culinary cultures that they claim to represent, but from time to time they add something “new and exciting” to their menu. This year I believe it was some sort of Jack Daniels championship menu, on which TGIF and Guy decided to go rip off the winners in a JD BBQ contest and toss their winning entrys onto their menu. What people probably are missing or have forgotten is that TGIF has had Jack Daniels style items on their menu for quite some time now, certainly way before this “new and exciting” menu was added. Not that I have anything at all against the JD people, It’s just the restaurant and blondie’s credibility that really enrages me.

This brings us to our other unwanted not so red-headed step child of the culinary industry. Tyler Florence. He kind of reminds me of Bobby Flay, except that he is alot heavier, not quite as talented, and I typically only see him on TV during holidays, making his bid for cooking credibility. Somehow every year, he hooks up with some of the other network chefs and by leeching off of their hard-earned respect and skill, he fools the good people at home into thinking, hey, I think he’s a good cook too.

He is NOT. That is my claim and my opinion. He is about as good a cook as the spanish guy at my restaurant who cannot understand the different cooking times of frying shrimp and frying yams.

His slutty companion of a restaurant chain is the TGIF knockoff, Applebees, making him even lower on the food chain than blondie. This mind-boggling reject of Americana is IMO only good as a place to drink cheap beers and mixed drinks when the other good bars are too crowded on football Sunday. For some odd reason, they have some type of rib tips item on their happy hour appetizer menu, I would bet anyone who is reading this that they are probably just sliced bones smashed into the middle of questionable processed meat. This place is so terrible that they cannot even do spinach dip right! Their menu, which consists of anything you can think of from TGIF but simplified, could easily be served as a replacement for high school cafeteria food and very few kids would notice.

Yet, as bad as that sounds, the tip of this festering waste poking above the toilet bowl water is that Tyler Florence, you know, that guy from such regular food network shows as NOTHING, endorses them with his chubby smile 100%.

Fake-panko breaded panko shrimp(panko is supposed to be japanese bread crumbs)? Check. Cheesy mind-numbing americana and festive buttons? Double check. Recipes fit for zombies living in America who don’t want anything exciting to disturb their eternal undead slumber? If the answer to this is yes, and it is, you’ve got yourself an unholy trifecta, where budding middle-aged chefs go to throw away any shreds of credibility and dignity left.

Congratulations on street-walking and bedding yourselves to the highest bidder. Tyler and Guy, come down and receive your presents. For not really having any culinary skill, and somehow sneaking your way both onto television and into commercials, a DNA test that confirms that you both are actually children birthed from the same set of corrupted loins. Also, for dragging down the credibility of the food network by basically accepting bribes from horrible conglomerate restaurants, please accept these shiny new .357 magnum handguns, complete with bullets. These will come in handy when the suicidal thoughts begin to claim you.

When your children are old enough to understand how your whole life, you chose to stand for nothing, chose greed over principles and respect, you will finally understand what to do with these guns.

Thank you, for helping to remind us, the regular people who cook and work with cooks for a living, what we should do the exact opposite of.

Mikey, Wong_83@hotmail.com

(PS: You still have time left. You can change! Maybe!)