in Food Humor ~ read.

Seattle Fried Chicken Review

After our last post of Serious Pedantry, it's time to up the game with some Serious Pedantry. That is to say, fried chicken. Nothing can be more serious than fried chicken.

When we are born into this world, no matter what culture or era, our genetic heritage predisposes us to savor select qualia: sweet, salty, crispy. In modern society, this has manifested itself in the most glorious of foods, fried fucking chicken. You can pretend like it has a history and all, but truth is, it would've invented itself at some point or other. Basically an inevitable (and delicious) consequence of human life.

It just so happens that Seattle has a bunch of fried chicken places and that I like everyone like fried chicken, so I visited a bunch of 'em and out popped this post. A list, or more precisely, a hierarchy. How else would you tasteless nimrods figure out where to stuff your faces? Yelp?

Kidding, kidding. (he was a king, you know)

#1 - Ezell's Famous Chicken

When you were a kid, you might have went into restaurants advertising "World's Most Famous BBQ" or "World Famous Hamburgers" on their road signs. You knew you were getting some good feed. Then you got older and realized that hey, some of these world famous places aren't that good. Then, maybe you started automatically putting the words "so-called" in front of any "World Famous" place you came across. Maybe you figured out "World Famous" isn't regulated by the FDA, and that as a generic term, it can't even be trademarked.

In my current, fully evolved state as a cynical postmodern existence, I know that any self-proclaimed "famous" place screams "I'm bad," which is to say, I'm not the target demo—unless I were to consume its food ironically, as a hipster nod towards the blatant kitsch. Which I don't, and you shouldn't, shouldn't be eating McDo or BK in the first place, and if you're doing it ironically, that makes you even worse than their cradle-to-grave "because it tastes good" demo, because you're supposed to be woke, damnit, you know better, enough to know your readers will mouse over your links to see the URLs, enough to remove the metadata tracking parameters even though you know they won't click (you'd actually prefer if they didn't).

If you've been paying attention, you noticed that Ezell's Famous Chicken is #1 on this list, and you guessed that this means something. I'm here to tell you that you're correct. Don't you just love being right? That's what good authors do, make their readers feel good. Great authors make their readers feel bad, but they read on anyway, that's what makes them great—putting down Kafka says more about you than the book, see?—that and their purposive ambiguation of 3rd plural pronouns, and betting (praying) you'll read on even though they, wait for it, put the best - *gasp* - first in a listicle, and adding snarky metacommentary, and—oh, who the hell am I kidding.

Anyways, if you didn't get the message from my previous post, it's watch Annie Hall.

Ezell's

Ezell's Famous Chicken is #1 because they are able to do the impossible, which is to make food that is not bad although they are "Famous," and to actually be famous in spite of being "Famous"; a ridiculosity on par with Donald Trump of all people claiming he would run for President then actually becoming President. So inconceivable are these events that—whatever your attitude—you can't but help acknowledge their panache.

Make no mistake, Ezell's is not just not bad, nor is it merely good—it is, de facto, great. Forget its name; if you took a room of blindfolded neanderthals and A/B tested Ezell's against any other option on this list, Ezell's would vanish before they realized other options even existed. Also getting the not spicy version is worse than eating Mickey D's ironically.

Just FYI.

#2 - Harry's Fried Chicken

You'll notice that I haven't given my evaluative criteria yet, and that's because Ezell's deserves to be not so much eaten as experienced with no preconceptions of quality. Like I said at the start,

our genetic heritage predisposes us to savor select qualia
-Richard

which means you gotta eat it like you've never eaten food before. 無爲, motherfuckers.

Anyway, seeing as we're long past the Pleistocene, it's time for criteria. But first, here's Harry's!

Harry's

  • Crust—This is the part of the fried chicken that is not the chicken itself.
    • Crunch—How much actuation force is required to bite through the fried golden flour batter? How does it cleave, how does it fracture: consistently or irregularly? What's its half-life upon salivary exposure?
      • Harry's crust provides a hard, satisfying crunch. Like tectonic plates crunching the crust of the earth, you feel me? Every bite provides the rush of accomplishment for the wise gourmets who dine at Harry's.
    • Seasoning—Herbs, oils, spices, whatever. The components of flavor that abound in the crust and hopefully reach into the chicken itself.
      • Harry's is positively herbaceous with a good dose of spice. When it shoves itself into your mouth, you can't really tell whether you're being burned more by the spice or by the heat retained from the cast-iron skillet frying (a: the latter).
  • Chicken—Gallus gallus domesticus, alternatively fowls, hens, cocks, roosters, Цӹвӹ...
    • Tenderness—When you sink your teeth into the flesh of the beast, how easily does it give way?
      • Harry's is tender.
    • Juiciness—How much liquid gets squeezed out of the flesh by your masticulatory antics?
      • Harry's has a satisfactory level of juice, which means it won't squirt all over your shirt when you bite in, but also won't turn your mouth into the Sahara on contact.
    • Flavor—According to Yale neurogastronomist Gordon M. Shepherd, the emergent sensation produced by taste, orthonasal smell, and retronasal smell, with the greatest contribution coming from the last of these sensate phenomena.
      • Harry's chicken tastes like chicken. Chicken that has descended straight from heaven (Draper Valley Farms) to smite its divine buttermilk-soaked, applewood-smoked goodness upon mortal palates like yours and mine.

#3 Fat's Chicken and Waffles

What's up with these places and their counterintuitive names? The sky is blue, bears crap in the woods, and you will, yes, get fat if you keep eating fried chicken like yours truly. Or maybe they're marketing geniuses who leverage the power of Reverse Psychology! to attract customers and accrue revenue.

A lot of my friends, in their infinitely Millennial selves, have to make sacrifices such as "do I want to go to the gym to get fit or do I love food too much to care," and the latter always wins as an inevitable fact of fate in our deterministic universe. Which is to say, they like to pretend they're making a sacrifice when really the choice was decided for them all along. Silly wabbit, free willy's for kids.

Fat's

  • Crust
    • Crunch: 7/10.
      • Fat's's (lol), unlike Ezell's or Harry's, loses crunchiness upon successive chews, but this doesn't take away from the initial crunch or two, which are still impressive enough to induce joy.
    • Seasoning: 7/10.
      • The visibly dominant ground black pepper has arrived to give your taste buds a pleasant kick. Although I prefer cayenne and garlic powder, this works admirably as a welcome tangent on the usual.
  • Chicken
    • Tenderness: 9/10.
      • Whenever someone rates something a 9/10, you don't ask what makes it a 9, you ask what it lacks that it's not 10. And here is where I will disappoint my management consultant readers: tenderness and juiciness are not MECE. Think about it, is it possible for any meat to be tender without moisture?
    • Juiciness: 7/10.
      • One must gauge not only the quantity and savoriness of the stock, but the pattern of its distribution amongst and betwixt the muscle fibres (royal). Fat's' (lol) fatty juices fly with color past the first two measures, but find themselves unable to penetrate to the parts nearest the bone.
    • Flavor: 8/10.
      • Spared the Pavlovian pleasures of animal anticipation, the vegetarian must accede to a series of sublimatory rationalizations not dissimilar to those of Freud's Oedipal ontology. On the other hand, the omnivore's brain happily alights upon confirming the patterns—the warm, moist flesh, the curvature of the thigh, the saliva-inducing aromatics—associated with this most common of beasts, doubly rewarded by the consummat/oops, was that a slip? gesundheit!!/consumption of the animal, providing a further, final confirmation to the original.

A few notes are in order, for you see with Fat's the chicken is not a chicken in itself, it is a chicken with, that is, an instrumental component of a greater entity; the other half being the waffle. This basic difference does not preclude the evaluation—as I have done above—of the chicken in itself, which may be indeed be superior to other breeds, however it does change the foundations upon which such an analysis must be based, as it has here relinquished its roost of singular importance.

Even without the butter and maple syrup, this waffle was peerless to every other I have ever eaten—the perfect thickness (thin), its only lightly browned surface belying a solid crunch that harmonized with the crunch of the fried batter, an airy angelic interior, those little squares begging for condiment but more importantly supplying even more surface area for the Maillard-induced crunching—and as such elevating Fat's as a meal above the other options in this post...

But alas. Superb though this fowl is, as a chicken with it cannot as a matter of immanence surpass the ideal Form attempted by Harry's and apotheosized by Ezell's.

#4 Ma'ono

It means flavor.

Forgive me for plagiarizing the restaurant's tagline, but I didn't learn this word while I was in Hawaii so I'm presenting it here for your educational pleasure.

Ma'ono

There are a few ways of getting to this restaurant. If you're flying in from Sea-Tac, I recommend taking the Link light rail up to the SoDo stop and then Bus 50 from S Lander St. That'll run you a total of five bucks. I prefer quantum teleportation, which is instant, obviously, but that doesn't prevent them from being startled when I zap in with a puff of smoke, and the cost is my life. We're way past the Pleistocene, aren't we...

  • Crust
    • Crunch: 7/10.
      • On par with that of Fat's. Maintains its consistency throughout the chew but is a tad flakier than I like.
    • Seasoning: 2/10.
      • Although the menu claims these birds are "umami spiced," my memory draws blanks upon attempting to reconstruct any semblance of a seasoning. Visible enough (left of the rice) is the housemade glaze Ma'ono provides to drizzle, but a sauce is a condiment, not a seasoning. And if you're wondering why a batter sans seasoning scores a 2, it's because terrible seasoning merits a 1 or 0. Now I'm curious what would happen if we sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered raspberry. Guessing it'd be either surprisingly good or mock-worthy terrible.
  • Chicken
    • Tenderness: 8/10.
      • As tender as a teenager's broken heart, especially if that teen has been regularly fed on an all-organic diet of romantic comedies. Your mistake? Taking me figuratively.
    • Juiciness: 8/10.
      • You could stick a straw in here and suck. You'd probably extract a few milliliters this way. Why you'd want to do such a thing, I don't know. Eat your damn chicken.
    • Flavor: 5/10.
      • Tastes like chicken. Just, tastes like chicken. Tastes just like chicken. Just tastes like chicken. Chicken like tastes just. Wait, what?

The dish comes with kimchi which is good but merely that, and furikake rice that could've been cooked a little stickier. Kimchi's flavor profile also doesn't jive well with fried chicken, if you ask me. It's not the right kind of spicy, and the brine zing of fermentation clashes with the literally-just-fried-ness of the chicken. Nevertheless Ma'ono succeeds in capturing the Hawaiian spirit, if more Waikiki than Waianae.

#5 Buddha Ruksa

Ruksa I could write this review myself, but I expect highly of my readers and you now have all the necessary clues; any perfect logician would see one and only one possible conclusion. So, in the vein of the late David Foster Wallace, I'm placing the responsibility on you to figure it out. Deduce, m'dear Watson, deduce away!

Bonus: Aladdin Fried Chicken

Long before I ate at any of these places, my New Yorker friend Ben had been raving about the fried chicken bodega next to his abode(ga). I went back to New York to finally test its—and, in the process, his—mettle.

Aladdin

Needless to say, I was disappointed in the chicken, which was not my fault (it's the bird's or the chef's, usually the latter), and in my friend's curatorial prowess, which was my fault, I mean how could I possibly have missed the centuries-old practice of 'declaring everything close to your nest to be the best so you can be satisfied with your conception of the world.' Clever readers will discern that the actual disappointment lies with myself—woe is me!—for mismodeling Ben's picking skills.

  • Crust
    • Crunch: 3/10.
      • Fried chicken with no crust is an aberration, and only minimal amounts of breading are to be found on this alopeciac bird. What there was was no good either: soft and soggy. The skin was still firmly (unacceptably) attached to the flesh; I'm here for fried chicken, not rotisserie.
    • Seasoning: 2/10.
      • That anyone in 2016 wouldn't think to add spice to their chicken batter is like, pushing a car (when it's not stuck or broken) with your hands instead of driving it, or rubbing your finger against your teeth and calling it "brushing," or placing a piece of paper over a cut insisting it's a BAND-AID, or something.
  • Chicken
    • Tenderness: 5/10.
      • The meat had to be yanked off the bones, which were oddly greasy given how dry it was. I get the feeling the bird wasn't very fresh.
    • Juiciness: 4/10.
      • One somehow wonders whether cooking it longer or shorter would've improved its juice flow, or if the problem lies within the gallus itself. But I suspect the large part lies in the preparation, for example Harry's soaks his overnight.
    • Flavor: 5/10.
      • Superior to the sludge endemic to fast food restaurants, but I remember loving KFC as a kid and I'm pretty sure it would hold up against or surpass Aladdin's. Handcrafted food always being better than industrial grub is a popular misconception; I've had burritos much worse than Chipotle's and burgers worse than Burger King's, mutatis mutandis.

As for the rolls? Standard middle school cafeteria fare.