You may have seen El Gallo walk the streets of Santa Monica. He was a canary yellow 1973 Oldsmobile 98, with a rooster’s head fastened to the roof and a curled feather tail attached to the trunk. His deep red wavy honeycomb has an extra paw on the top of his head.
Or, you may have heard him. At stops, or whenever owner Tommy Kendall sees people staring, he plays the song “Chicken Techno” out loud from the exposed CD player he inserts in the glove compartment. . It involves a series of croaks, cries, croaks and crows layered over electronic music. A low voice repeats “delicious” throughout the song. People stop, stare, laugh, slam their phones away, and give some exorbitant thumbs up.
On a recent Wednesday, National Fried Chicken Day, I found myself behind El Gallo, humming “Chicken Techno.” I was on my way to the first stop of 10 fried chicken restaurants with Kim Prince, the head chef of Hotville Hot Chicken at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
The National Fried Chicken Festival is started in 2021 by About Her, a women’s restaurant organization. (I serve on the funding committee that blindly selects grant recipients based on anonymous entries.) The goal is to get as many women-run restaurants serving fried chicken in a single day as possible. . This year, Kendall agreed to take us around El Gallo to collect information.
At 11 a.m., Kendall parked El Gallo first Very promising, chef Kat Turner’s sunlit cafe in West Adams. We were there for Li’l Chicky Sando (that’s the real name). Toast and fry a chicken breast with tempura batter and place it on a Kewpie buttermilk bread with labneh, mint, and pickled red onion. It’s a first class chicken sandwich with a soft, delicious bun.
She also offered an experimental version of the Buffalo fried chicken sandwich that still hasn’t made it to the menu. It consists of dipping fried chicken breasts in Tangy Buffalo sauce, then adding a chewy blue cheese sauce. It’s a wonderful order of Buffalo wings in sandwich form. Here’s hoping both are on the menu when you visit.
With our tongues still tingling from the Buffalo sauce, we headed back to El Gallo and headed to Gritz N Wafflez, Jurni Rayne’s anytime brunch restaurant operates from a ghost kitchen in Pico-Union. Rayne guided us through her two-day brine process consisting of brine followed by buttermilk brine. The wings and veins are impregnated with a light, hairy coating to create an additional cover.
This is what I like to call drip chicken. When you take a bite, the juice actually runs down your chin. We dip our bids into Rayne’s Creole gravy, a traditional thick gravy with her secret Creole spice blend. And I glide a wing over her cheesy smile, which is rich, smooth, and satisfyingly cheesy.
At this point, I was able to use a nap, but the data collection continued.
Next stop is Annie’s Soul Delicious, a soul food restaurant in Little Ethiopia. If you’re into party outfits, then this is the place for you. Owner Annalisa Mastroianni Johnson makes Buffalo, bacon, BBQ, hot Nashville, lemon pepper, classic fried and wings dripping in a sweet and hearty Hennessey sauce. The classic fry is the gold standard and Johnson’s hot honey favorite. We feel it’s our duty to try at least one of each flavor.
With the sweaty chicken kicking in, we left Cake Oui to sample one of the best Los Angeles fried chicken sandwiches in the city. Chef-owner Casey Felton created a sandwich that combines turmeric-dyed chicken katsu, a garlic spread similar to everyone’s favorite at Zankou Chicken, and elements of a delicious bread, with cucumbers. salt and pepper, fresh herbs and pate. There’s kale on it, too.
We made the short trip up Cahuenga Avenue through Hollywood Boulevard to stop at Harold’s Chicken Hollywood. You can imagine the eyes and the waves as we drove down the starry street. It felt like we were on a parade float.
Inside Harold’s, we find another giant rooster, looming near the restaurant’s entrance. The Chicago-based chicken brand is best known for its fried chicken and red sauce. We did an order of both wings and fries completely submerged in a light sauce, a sweet, fiery red, ketchup-like concoction with a hint of mild vinegar. The coating is thin, crispy and golden, even under that sauce. Wanting to survive the next five stops, we tried our best not to touch the fries, but half the basket was happily consumed anyway.
I was still wiping the sauce off my fingers with a wet towel as we climbed back to El Gallo and headed west to Otus Thai Kitchen and Coffee on La Brea Avenue. When we arrived, chef-owner June Intrachat was in the middle of a busy afternoon. Her waiters hurried around the dining room wearing chicken hats for the occasion. We ordered “happy chicken”, also known as Hat Yai fried chicken or Intrachat’s for southern Thai fried chicken.
The chicken is bathed in fried shallots, and it’s hard to tell where the finish ends and the fried skin. It really doesn’t matter. We broke each piece of sticky rice with our hands, dipped the chicken in a sweet chili sauce, and eagerly popped the pieces into our mouths as if we’d stopped by five other restaurants along the way.
Since it’s a chicken holiday, Intrachat also prepared a special dish of fried chicken skin with crème fraîche and caviar. It’s as good as you’d imagine (the most elegant chip and dip), made better by the tight and dry minerality of a Christophe Mignon, Champagne Brut Nature ADN De Meunier, hand-picked by Jill Bernheimer of Domaine LA Bernheimer with Her hand, Champagne, and caviar may not be there every night, but you can order happy chicken anytime.
Kendall drove El Gallo south 101 past Grand Central Market for our next two stops. Lucky Bird changed the city’s breakfast burrito landscape when Chris and Christine Dane introduced their fried chicken burrito in 2019. Chris ladles onions and jalapeños into chicken fat, then folds them into soft scrambled eggs. He added coriander, American cheese, Yukon golden fries, and lots of chopped fried chicken. It’s a great combination of ingredients and textures and it makes me wonder why so many people don’t include fried chicken in their breakfast burritos.
We also snacked on some fried chicken skin in a paper bag. Pro tip: Put some crust inside the burrito for extra crunch and drizzle with hot sauce. Also, burrito is only available on weekends.
Across the boardwalk and about five steps west is Shiku, Kwang Uh and Mina Park’s food stall specializes in dosirak and banchan. It was a fully open kitchen, and on that day, there were piles of fried chicken on the counter, fresh from the fryer.
This is the kind of fried chicken I can eat in a full bowl, cut into bite-sized pieces like nuggets with a crispy coating that’s almost nonexistent. It’s great on its own or in a Shiku KFC lunch box. For the uninitiated, KFC means Korean Fried Chicken. It has nothing to do with the colonel or his chicken. Uh quality KFC on top of steamed rice with zigzag lines of Sriracha aioli, aji verde and galbi yeast. We managed to polish most of the chicken and some rice before heading back to El Gallo for our next stop.
We headed west on Sunset Boulevard to Ototo, or what my colleague, restaurant critic Bill Addison, calls “LA’s Best Sake Bar”. It is also known for its excellent karaage. You can usually find a set of Japanese fried chicken on the menu, lightly breaded and sprinkled with curry salt. For the holiday, there is an option to add Imperial Ossetra caviar and truffle crème fraîche. Instead of serving extras on the side, the crème fraîche and caviar are combined into a luxurious, grainy topping that is spread on top of the chicken. The truffles are present but not overpowering and the caviar is salty and fatty. It’s decadent in a way that elevates the chicken, though I’ll be happy with the naked chicken next time.
When the sun went down, we drove to All day Baby, Silver Lake Restaurant by Lien Ta and Jonathan Whitener. Seven hours and nine restaurants later, we somehow got hungry for more chicken. It’s the restaurant’s monthly fried chicken night. Each month, Whitener makes a different style of chicken. That night was devoted to cockfights.
They look more like fish and chips than tenderloin, served with a cup of honey mustard and barbecue sauce. Whitener beats the chicken in a way that completely envelops the tendons in a crispy crust that melts into satisfyingly large bricks. It’s the perfect end to a day fueled by poultry, adrenaline and a few more.
Likely Coffee Shop, 4310 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 622-4550, ithighlylictures.com
Gritz N Wafflez, 1842 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 905-7822, gritznwafflez.com
Annie’s Soul Delicious, 1066 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 424-7402, anniessouldelicious.com
Banh Oui, 1552 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 645-7944, banhoui.com
Harold’s Chicken Hollywood, 6523 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 645-7049, haroldschickenla.com
Otus Thai Kitchen and Coffee, 1253 N. La Brea Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 969-8611, otusthaikitchen.com
Lucky Bird, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, luckybirdla.com
Shiku, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 265-7211, shikulosangeles.com
Ototo, 1360 Allison Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 784-7930, auto.la
All Day Baby, 3200 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 741-0082, alldaybabyla.com
https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2022-07-25/fried-chicken-crawl-chicken-car The ultimate fried-chicken crawl in L.A. Here’s where to go