Sure, I enjoy Iberico pork and shaved Alba truffles on risotto as much as the next guy,  but sometimes you want to take a break from the wagyu and o-toro and just enjoy the simpler things in life.  Like Nutella.  Or cabeza tacos.  Or, as was the case over recent days, some fried chicken.

I’ve had a hankering for fried chicken going on weeks and so I called on Toronto’s resident fried chicken expert, Elliot Sokolsky, to lead the way.  Unfortunately, since the last time I saw Elliot, he’s adopted one of those crazy diets where he avoids sugars and starches and fried chicken, but he made an exception for the occasion. (And, I’m hearing, regretted it soon after, but that’s a story for another blog post.  Maybe on his blog.)

Ivon Bartok (who no longer eats fried chicken and, instead, opted for one of those grass and shrub smoothies) and Akemi (who doesn’t like fried chicken) joined us for moral support…

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

Our first stop was Gdous Juicy Chicken House (223 Spadina Ave.), a Taiwanese fried chicken chain that opened up in Toronto’s Chinatown about a month ago.

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

Since we need to pace ourselves, we simply went with the double drumstick order. It was very crisp, with a surprisingly light coating, and the meat was tender.  My only criticism – the flavors were restrained and I felt they could have used more seasoning.

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

The restaurant is in the midst of a soft opening, so a lot of its menu items are not yet available, but I look forward to coming back and checking out the spicy wings on my next visit.

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

Don’t we all?

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

Our second stop was one of food personality Anthony Bourdain’s favorites, the venerable Popeyes (400 Queen St. West), a ubiquitous establishment I – believe it or not – have never visited.

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

Akemi and Ivon = super excited!

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

I deferred to Elliot, the Popeyes veteran, who ordered up some tenders and Buffalo Wing sauce.  Overall, not bad but there was a notable drop-off in the quality of the chicken from Jdous.

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

Our third stop was The County General (936 Queen St. West) where we ordered their signature County Fried Chicken (buttermilk fried chicken, Texas BBQ sauce, dill ranch, honey garlic herbs, pickles, corn bread).  The chicken was delicious, although I could have done with a lot less of the accompanying sauce.  Also, not a fan of cornmeal-crusting and its occasionally gritty texture.  Akemi loved the cornbread!

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

And that was a wrap on the Elliot-assist.  The next day, however, Akemi joined me for second lunch at Buldak: Home of Hot Taste (658 Blood St. West) for their Korean fried chicken.  I was, honestly, overwhelmed by the enticing offerings and ultimately elected to go with a combo that included both their regular and spicy fried chicken.  The waiter attempted to steer me clear of the spicy version, warning me “It’s very hot.”  I told him I’d be fine.

May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (round 1)!

The original recipe was very good and served with a side of salt so that customers can presumably adjust to their preferred level (I definitely thought it needed a pinch).  As for the spicy fried chicken – wow!  I rated it a 7.5 (on 10) on my heat scale: fiery yet flavorful, sweet and savory, with a great crunch.  Akemi, on the other hand, rated it a 10 and then refused to hold my hand for the rest of the afternoon for fear I’d somehow transfer the spiciness despite the fact I used two wet towelettes and throughly washed my hands afterwards.


Home of Hot Taste’s spicy fried chicken was, hands down, the winner of this extended outing.

I fully intend to check out some of Toronto’s other contenders.  But not before I pay a return visit to Home of Hot Taste so I can sample their green onion fried chicken and their Blazing Fire chicken with cheese.  Who’s in?!

18 thoughts on “May 24, 2018: Fried Chicken Fight – Toronto Edition (Round 1)!

  1. Awww, tell Ivon he can still be my friend even if he doesn’t help you explore the package I sent. I wasn’t aware he was on the green clean machine right now. Toadt Ivon with a Kachava PB2 smoothie. I also didn’t know Akemi wasn’t a fan of heat or chicken so you’re going to have to drum up some others to support that adventure.
    I’ve also been on a fried chicken kick and don’t have anyone to participate with. George Frasher, chef of Frasher House in Phoenix is branching out to improve our tepid hot chicken scene by bringing his version of Nashville hot chicken to Phoenix. We’ll see. I mean we’ve got Lo-Lo- Chicken & Waffles, Mrs. Whites Golden Rule, Little Miss BBQ, Arrogant Butcher, Tuck..and of course Popeyes, Church’s, KFC…but yet…they call it tepid out here. We have more wing options than a good fried chicken. I’m hoping he does a good job. I tried the Nashville hot at chain Cheesecake Factory. They were ok “wings” but not Nashville Hot, they also needed salt.
    So still waiting. I might have to make my own.

    Enjoying your adventures!

  2. Have you tried kaboom chicken on 722 queen east? Enjoyed it the time I had it last year!

  3. Not sure I can handle “hot” like your taste buds like. Willing to try some spiciness, but not get carried away.

    BUT…fried chicken I’m there.

  4. As a fried chicken aficionado, I find, at least down here in the south, the best fried chicken comes from locally-owned places that look more like condemned phone company substations than restaurants. If the sign is professionally made, the chicken probably sucks. If it’s made with a Sharpie and a piece of plywood, stand back because that’s some damned fine chicken.

    As chain fried chicken goes, Popeyes is okay (but aren’t they all to a degree?), but your mistake there was getting the tenders. First off, if there’s no bone in it, it’s not real fried chicken (and if you don’t order spicy, it’s not Popeyes). Secondly, Popeyes’ buffalo sauce is a slap in the face to true buffalo sauces everywhere. If you like onion rings and they have them at the location you’re visiting, it’s worth the 15-20 minute wait. Sadly, the red beans, once my favorite side, are a pale imitation of what they once were.

    And any truly good fried chicken establishment will also have the option to get fried livers and gizzards. If you can’t get entrails, you should probably just keep on truckin’ down the chicken trail. Fried guts are the best.

    If you ever find yourself lost way down here, hit me up. I know several fried chicken places that are better than heaven itself and will blow you away. One doesn’t even have a sign, but that’s because they don’t need one. Word-of-mouth keeps them busy. Two of those places don’t fry until you order, so the wait is long, but worth it.

    1. THIS is excellent advice from a true fried chicken expert. Thanks, Tom!

    2. The only thing I ever bought from Popeyes was their chicken fried steak. It was decent considering the price. The chicken-fried steak at a local restaurant called Republic Grill is rated top 3 in the Houston area and I agree. I know, I know We’re talking chicken, but I don’t have a lot of experience with fried chicken.

  5. I have friends on that no sugar/flour diet and they get very sick after eating a single roll. I don’t envy Elliot today. On the other hand, that diet gets good results with weight loss.

    Grass and shrub smoothies? 🙂

    I’m glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing it with us! You found a few good places to take your Mom & Sis, too.

  6. I’m in! Although I think I’ll steer clear of the spicy stuff. I know you, Joe, and your 7.5 out of 10 on the heat scale would be like 75 out of 10 to me!

    As I said last time, fried chicken options in Melbourne are pretty limited. However, I did discover Belles Hot Chicken near work recently. It was OK. A colleague had the “Really Fucking Hot” and said it wasn’t that hot although it would still be way too hot for me! The get the thumbs up from the CEO of Twitter, too.

  7. Oddly, I just had a panko breaded chicken filet I’d baked in the oven. My tummy was well prepared for this blog for once.

    The HoHT sounds very good. Yum. I do not like Popeye’s chicken at all, far too salty. While on our roadtrip, we had truckstop chicken from Chester’s, which was amazingly fresh and tasty. Not greasy and not too salty. Locally, we have a little restaurant, Pig and a Jelly Jar, which does chicken and waffles, and it is absolutely wonderful. Thursdays are $5 Chicken n waffles day!

  8. Ur killin’ me! I love fried chicken, but it feels so very sinful to actually eat it. Here in the bay area we have Bonchon Chicken, also Korean. So tasty and therefore popular, they sometimes run out of chicken, as happened last time I was there. So I asked what else they had on hand, and they said “we only serve chicken”, which begged the question as to why the doors were still open!?

  9. Geesh, I get a gallbladder attack every time you report on one of your fried food adventures.

    And then I have to clean the drool off my keyboard.

  10. I’m all in! Hot Taste’s looks the best as well. I like Popeye’s well enough, but their breading can be a bit painful to the roof of my mouth. It’s VERY crunchy.

  11. Back before he had the restaurant(s), Colonel Sanders plunked a pressure cooker in the trunk of his Cadillac, spread newspaper out on the back seat, and proceeded to sell fried chicken on the side of the road. My grandmother was one of the women who would buy from him. She said it was better than she made. Imagine a line of cars snaking around curves on twisty mountain back roads waiting to buy chicken out of the back seat of a car. Alas, although I’ve been several times to the original restaurant, I am too young to know it before the great incorporation so I don’t know if it held up over the transition. Also, the grandmother that took me made the world’s best fried chicken so it would have been a high bar to achieve.

  12. I love fried chicken but there isn’t many restaurants that serve it here.
    Oow, but Kentucky Fried Chicken are doing a summer special…. fried chicken with gravy 😝
    How dreadfully English is THAT!!

    (So so sorry…😢)

  13. Wow, this is so strange. I got a call from Chicken Express today. I saw the caller ID come in and stared at the phone for a second. I then answered the phone but did not say anything. The caller hung up. Probably some kid needing his mom to come pick him up from work. But what a coincidence! You are haunting me Joe!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.