If you wanted to start an argument a few decades ago, you asked two southerners how to properly deep-fry chicken – whether it was buttermilk, white pepper, cornstarch, crisco or peanut oil. For cooks and consumers alike, fried chicken is a deeply personal issue. Buttermilk fried chicken with its long-lasting crust is too unusual for the purists who are only made from flour. Spicy chicken lovers split between the spiced Louisiana breading and the hot Tennessee chicken, which has a spicy coat added after deep-frying.
Southern Fried Chicken, dredged in flour and deep-fried, likely originated in Scotland and was perfected by enslaved African Americans. It gained great popularity when liberated entrepreneurs sold the moving feast at train and bus stations across the south.
Then came Kentucky Fried Chicken – now KFC – one of the most successful restaurant chains of all time. Whatever your opinion on the quality of the product, it was responsible for sending the southern fried chicken on an all-encompassing journey around the world. The global explosion inspired chefs around the world to play with different brines, flours, oils and coatings. With culinary innovations such as masala brine, spicy soy glazes and sumac dust, it is impossible to say which variant is “the best”. The good news in Houston is that you can try them all.
Al Aseel, 8619 Richmond: For this, oregano, za’atar and sumac are imported directly from Jerusalem Palestinian fried chicken. The herbs add depth and the sumac dust adds flavor to the crispy skin. The meat is also seasoned with garlic and is juicy and woody. It is served with crisp Cucumber and tomato salad and fluffy almond ricebut huge Hummus platters Garnished with ground beef, oil and parsley also go well together. There are also well-known favorites like shrimp kebab and beef kofta kebab, which are served on rice hills, while the stuffed pigeon is a little more adventurous. The traditional roasted one Musakhan chicken is a delicious dish that is served with caramelized onions, flatbread and pine nuts. Enjoy a shisha while you wait and save space for that Baklava.
Fried chicken and fries at the Barbecue Inn. Photo by Victoria Ma.
Grill inn, 116 West Crosstimbers: Time seems to have stood still somewhere in the 1960s in this Houston institution. Guests like to wait 30 minutes or more to enjoy this fried chicken made from a 67 year old recipe. Given its considerable crispness, this is chicken in its most audible state. According to cookbook author and former Houston Press restaurant reviewer: Robb WalshBarbecue Inn’s roast chicken is cooked with a simple flour digger, and each piece is made to order. There are also fried catfish, prawns, oysters and stuffed crabs to represent other southern favorites. For side dishes, select French fries, Mashed potatoes, green beans, a salad or a Baked potato. Restaurants that serve similar types of south fried chicken include La Lucha and Lucille’s.
Frenchy’s is a Houston institution with half a decade of history. Photo by Phaedra Cook
Frenchy’s, multiple locations: this Louisiana style chicken House opened in 1969 and convinced the Houstonians with its Creole sides Dirty rice, Kale and Red beans and rice. The spices in Louisiana-style chicken are tossed into the flour mixture instead of being sprinkled on top later. Now with 10 locations, it’s a must-have spot for authentic flavorful chicken and home cooking. Frenchy’s also serves boudin balls and rolls (an egg filled with boudin and then fried), deep-fried shrimp, hot Creole sausage, and peach cobbler. Order family boxes with up to 24 pieces.
Gus’ world famous fried chicken. Photo by Phaedra Cook.
Gus’ world famous fried chicken, 1815 Washington: Patrons are cautiously warned not to expect fried chicken with considerable spiciness at this Memphis-born eatery. Although the crunch is admirable, the focus here is on the spices. The hot chicken is usually fried in peanut oil, then covered with a hot sauce and served on a piece of white bread. It’s the only main course available at Gus’s, but there are a variety of starters to choose from, such as fried green tomatoes and fried okra served with ranch dressing. The chicken comes with sides from sides coleslaw and Beans, but include swaps Greens, potato salad or Macaroni and Cheese. For dessert, try the sweet chess cake. Similar types of hot chicken are The Cook Shack and Mico’s Hot Chicken.
Fried Chicken in Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room. Photo by Phaedra Cook.
Harold’s restaurant, 350 West 19th: Birds for this spot’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken come from Holmes Chicken in Nixon, Texas. Harold’s then doubles the meat in brine, soaks it in buttermilk and breads it with flour, cornmeal, and cornmeal. It comes with Macaroni and Cheese, made with Texas Cheddar and braised green. The Fried chicken and mash is a roast boneless breast, served with mashed potatoes, sausage sauce and vegetables. Attend Sunday brunch when the buttermilk fried chicken is served with homemade waffles. The vegetarian friendly Fried cauliflower with chicken offers a hearty alternative with vegetables from the Atkinson Farm in spring and is presented on a bowl of cheese fondue. They can all be enjoyed on the rooftop terrace, which offers great views of the Heights.
Masala Fried Chicken in the Himalaya Restaurant & Catering. Photo by Michael Shum.
Himalayas, 6652 Southwest Freeway: Owner Kaiser Lashkari’s creative fried chicken in his nationally celebrated Pakistani and Indian restaurant is called is HFC rooms, with the letters an abbreviation for Himalaya Fried Chicken. It is a whole skinless chicken (eight pieces) that is marinated in a buttermilk seasoned with ginger and masala and then dredged in seasoned flour. Lashkari recommends pairing HFC with masala waffles for an Indo-Pak version of the classic American pairing. Guests will find more fusion dishes like Parantha Dilla, a quesadilla-influenced paratha sandwich made from lamb, beef, vegetables, or paneer, along with Mutton Biryani Bourdain, a mound of fluffy savory rice and tender mutton named in honor of the late food writer, show host and Himalayan patron Anthony Bourdain.
Karaage-style chicken at Izakaya in Midtown. Courtesy photo.
Izakaya, 318 Gray: Japanese-style fried chicken means Karaage, and is prepared by marinating strips of meat and dredging them in starch before frying. The result is tender chicken wrapped in a light, tempura-like batter. In the Izakaya, Karaage is served with a light, lemony yuzu jam. Find it in the small plate section of the menu along with Miso eggplant, roasted in a hearty shell, and Kobe Beef Salad Wraps, that is marinated Korean-style grilled beef that is wrapped in crispy salad cups. Karaage chicken can also be found at Samurai Noodle and Jinya Ramen.
Korean fried chicken with dumplings and french fries at Krisp. Courtesy photo.
Krisp, 9486 Long Point: Order the from Koreatown Newcomer Korean fried chicken in original “plain” or choose from seven types of sauces such as honey butter, creamy onion, garlic and marinated veal. Other traditional Korean dishes can also be found, such as: tteok bokki, a rice-fish cake with fried dumplings and egg. Kimchi is also there, as well cheese dumplings, Sweet potato fries and Corn and cheese. Korean chicken is also available at Dak & Bop and The ToreOre at H-Mart.
Max’s restaurant, 8011 South Main: Bring a friend to taste this breaded and breaded whole fried Filipino style chicken that is fried and served with banana ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Despite the lack of breading, the skin is incredibly crispy and the meat is tender and tasty. Although Max’s is new to Houston, it was founded in 1945 and has grown into an international chain with stores across the Middle East and the Philippines. This is an authentic Filipino restaurant where you like dishes laing, taro leaves cooked with coconut milk and kare kare, braised beef shank and oxtail in a peanut sauce. The roasted ham hump is somewhat similar to the roast chicken, Max’s crispy pata, served with soy vinegar dip. Die for dessert Halo-Halo Special is a shaved ice cream made from tropical fruit jam, beans and milk with flan, purple yam ice cream and rice flakes.
Thai Fried Chicken on the road to the kitchen. Photo by David Leftwich.
Road to the kitchen, 6501 Harrisburg: “Unapologetically Thai” is the motto of this modest cuisine. To achieve an authentic taste, the owners grow their own herbs with seeds from Thailand and make homemade curry pastes. Khao Man Gai death is a cook Benchawan Jabthong painter Spin on a classic steamed Thai chicken that gets even better because it’s fried. The chicken breast is marinated in garlic, pepper and fermented mushroom sauce, then breaded in rice flour and fried until crispy. It is served with garlic rice and comes with three sauces: Spicy Green Thai Chili Cilantro, Soy Chili and Sweet Chili. Curries like that Panang pork curry are made from mild, thick, creamy curry with pork schnitzel and served with jasmine rice. The Mango sticky rice is made from sweet coconut milk, ripe coconut and a pillow made of sticky rice.
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