Fried chicken is considered the go-to meal for many urban Filipinos. For one thing, its one of the easiest things to find: there are variations on the theme of batter-coated/deep-fried fowl everywhere from the humblest carinderia to the convenience store on the corner, from the mall food court to the swank-and-swish restaurants along the high streets. For another, most people love chicken. One more reason: most fried chicken plates are within the range of even some of the tightest budgets.
But while it is easy to get a meal of fried chicken and rice in the Greater Manila Area, it’s also fairly easy to get a bad fried chicken meal. You either get undercooked or overcooked chicken; the skin is limp rather than crisp; the chicken can also be under-seasoned or overly salty; and portions can also be quite scanty. Fortunately, there are places where you can get hefty bang for your buck while also pleasing your tastebuds and belly.
The Japanese kombini [convenience store] chain Family Mart has substantially portioned chicken meals where you can opt for one or two pieces as shown above (PhP 135.00 for two pieces with rice and gravy). The chicken is quite succulent in parts; drumsticks and thighs are all properly juicy. Breasts and wings, however, have this tendency to be somewhat dry and stringy; dark meat is definitely the option here but these parts are quite popular and sell out quickly. Nevertheless, it makes for a satisfying meal and the gravy tastes of butter and mushrooms – and that’s never a bad thing.
Also Recommended: the two-piece fried chicken meal at MiniStop. At P 108.00 for a two-piece serve with enormous pieces of chicken, this is one of the more satisfying options. The skin is a trifle salty, but this makes it perfect with rice. The meat – almost always dark because drumsticks and thighs are always on display in the countertop warmers) – is juicy and properly seasoned; the skin is as crunchy as potato crisps and, despite the salinity, is definitely moreish.
Korean-American import Bon Chon, on the other hand, gives diners three options with regard to the flavors of their chicken and another three options as to which parts they want.
Personally, the choice boils down to the crunchy garlic drumstick-and-thigh rice box combo (PhP 155.00). Unlike the other available variants where much of the flavor is concentrated in the crunchy glazed skin, the crunchy garlic tastes garlicky and savory from the first bite to the last. I guess it helps that there are flecks of toasted garlic scattered all over each pieces. Portions are ample and an extra PhP 20.00 lets you upgrade your plain white rice to the beefier Seoul Fried Rice which has bits of bulgogi, spring onions, omelet strips, and sesame seeds. An extra order of kimchi coleslaw is recommended.
Also Recommended: KFC in the Colonel’s original recipe; because, face it, who says no to KFC?!