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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Hey Losers! Review THIS!

What is wrong with people today??? Do you seriously need to tel your sob story online?

I realize the irony here, what with me writing and complaining about why people shouldn’t complain about things.If there was any other possible way to deal with this source of irritation besides writing in my blog, trust me, I would. I just don’t see a way around it, as much as I really don’t want to spend precious time sitting in front of the computer, trying to figure out what I’m going to tell you guys. When it comes to writing about any number of other topics, opinions and phrasing just pours out of me like poisonous vapors. About idiots online, it becomes an epic struggle just to start the first paragraph. So let me try to explain what exactly my problem with them is.

My main issue with these ignorant bastards and their nearly illiterate ramblings is how they affect local businesses and other people. It seems like these mentally handicapped assholes just start vomiting words out anytime they see a comment box. If this wasn’t bothering anybody else, if it was just about them needing to release some pent-up aggression, I would be totally OK with it. But it does affect other people. I’ll give you an example. Just the other day I was on Yelp.com reading some of the reviews on my family’s two restaurants, The Red Parrot in Locust Point, Baltimore, and the Red Parrot in Arundel Mills. People have written hundreds of reviews on both locations, ranging from “It was amazing,” to,” I wouldn’t go back there again.” That’s understandable, even if I don’t always agree with the reviews.

Sometimes you can actually feel when someone’s writing honestly, while other times all you feel is malice and stupidity. Is it really necessary for you to take the time to tell the world how your soup was a few degrees colder or warmer than you might like? Do you really think the vast majority of people are going to care that you personally had to wait a few minutes longer than normal? The answer to both is probably a resounding NO. Wouldn’t it have been much more effective for you to write your comments on the back of  your restaurant check, or even emailing the owners/managers of the restaurant? Mm-hmm.

The way I see it, when you write something it becomes an extension of you. It’s a mirror into your thought process, telling more about you than anything you might be writing about. The only reason you would write some garbage about your bad experience in a restaurant is to get attention. This isn’t always true. If I saw a rack of cockroaches coming out from under my burger at Wendy’s, I’d be pretty mad as well.

Unless it’s extremely important, I usually keep my opinion to myself.

Why can’t people ever write reviews when they enjoy their experience. The vast majority of these people can barely read and write but somehow manage to only ever bother when something has gone wrong. I feel for you, I really do, but if the restaurant can’t handle a completely packed restaurant due to lacking space or things actually getting cooked, it’s probably not going to change just because you feel like being a whiny bitch.

More importantly, you might want to approach someone who works there, other than the waiter who caused you mental anguish, and tell them what the problem is. Not only are you being helpful but I’m sure most places would be dying to make things right, rather than get your shitty review. Personally, I would never EVER mess with anyone who cooks and prepares my food or beverages.  Not that I’ve ever done this but I’m sure you’ve heard the stories. Man finds pubic hair in food. Waiter urinates in soup. Host masturbates into special burger sauce. Yum.

You don’t want this to happen to you. Trust me, retail employees are very resourceful people when they get motivated. I don’t care if you live in New York City, San Francisco, or Wichita Falls, Texas, when you write a f-ed up review blasting your local businesses, someone’s going to make you pay. It’s just a matter of when and where. Hopefully the damage you have done with your trumped-up charges of bad service or tiny portions doesn’t cause anyone to lose their job, house or children. I seriously doubt that most of these idiots haven’t even thought about the effects of those damning paragraphs.

So why don’t you all try to consider everything next time before you actually hit the post button beneath the writing box. Even if your server wasn’t very good, why don’t you just tip him badly or write him a little note instead. I’m pretty sure he can live with your bad tip, especially if they are aware of what they’ve done. What they can’t live with is getting fired, or having their customers leave because of one little mistake. That’s why some people become murderers, or at least a burglar.

It’s not like they have anything to fear now that they don’t have a job. Because they don’t have a job, they now have to figure out a way to pay the bills, pay child support, buy groceries, or even gas to look for other employment. Because of that review, now that man is probably looking at your beautiful single-family home, thinking to himself how easy it would be to murder everyone and pawn/sell your belongings on Craigslist. If your like me and watch a lot of crime shows on cable TV, you might think the police will save you.

Trust me, they won’t.

85% or more of all burglaries, theft, muggings and robberies in the US are never solved, becoming a cold case, a thin manila file in a warehouse full of files. When your daughter gets kidnapped and you find a cut & paste ransom letter dropped on your doorstep, you would never suspect that the criminal is in reality just your average server, trying to keep his family alive.

All thanks to your resume.

Ok, maybe it’s not that bad. I might have exaggerated a thing or two, just to put the fear of god in anyone who might be reading this. It’s not very likely, but it definitely could happen. We read about it in the news ALL THE TIME So don’t we all try to behave a little better, love thy neighbor and all that good stuff. It wouldn’t hurt if you gave that open-all-night diner down the street a second chance. If not for any of the reasons I’ve just described, then why not just because you r a decent human being.

Yeah right. Like that’s ever going to happen… At least not anytime soon.

 

~MSW WONG_83@HOTMAIL.COM