Our Top 5: Fried chicken 2.0

Nearly three years have passed since Diane Seo wrote about her insatiable lust for fried chicken. She laid out her standards for the perfect piece: “It must be juicy and tender, but not overly greasy. It has to be flavorful, yet not gamey or salty. And for me, it’s all about the skin,” she wrote. I concur.

In honor of National Fried Chicken Day on July 6, I initiated a fried chicken cleanse (haven’t you heard? It’s the latest trend) to find the crispiest, juiciest, most flavorful fried poultry on Oahu. Let it be known that not all fried chicken is created equal. You’ll see it in many forms — from crumbly deep-fried drumettes and wings to boneless nuggets and luscious thighs. One thing is certain: We can’t keep our hands off fried chicken!

Although I'm not sure what's "new" about New Hanagasa Inn, I'm well aware of the fact their fried chicken is habit forming and delicious hot out of the fryer.

Although I’m not sure what’s “new” about New Hanagasa Inn, I’m well aware that their fried chicken is habit-forming and best enjoyed hot out of the fryer.

Honorable mention: New Hanagasa Inn

There’s just something about the incredibly crisp, almost transparent skin on the tasty morsels of fried chicken ($13) piled high on a plate at New Hanagasa Inn. Served pupu-style, these chopped-up thighs still have bone remnants, but it doesn’t take much work to get the goods.

New Hanagasa Inn • 1343 River St • 531-5988 • Nuuanu

 

Mitsuken bento

The Mitsu-ken Bento ($7.25) comes with hot dog, teri beef, Spam, egg omelette and three pieces of garlic chicken on a bed of furikake rice. — Photo by Maka Kahawai

No. 5: Mitsu-ken

Mitsu-ken has been turning out their signature garlic fried chicken for over 20 years, and the line out the door is a testament to it. The juicy, slightly sweet boneless pieces are worth the wait, especially those crispy bits of skin. Once the scent wafts out of the box, expect aku birds to da max. Word of advice — eat fast or be prepared to share.

Mitsu-ken Okazuya & Catering • 2300 N. King St. • 843-5573 • Kalihi

 

A full order ($20.99) of Von's Chicken number one selling crispy fried is where it's at! Photo by Grant Shindo

A full order of Von’s Chicken’s top-selling crispy fried ($20.99) is where it’s at! — Photo by Grant Shindo

No. 4: Von’s Chicken

My love for Korean chain chicken was my dirty little secret when I lived in L.A. Secret trips to Kyochon after work were frequent but never documented. Now that Korean chicken has infiltrated our shores, I’m forced to come clean about this affair (after I lick the sauce off my fingers).

Von’s fried wings come in a variety of coatings and seasonings, but it’s the plain crispy that I flock to most. Once you’ve worked your way through a half-order in under 10 minutes, you know you’ve stumbled onto something good. You’ll also do well by stocking up on kimbap sushi rolls and a bottle of Hite beer for a night of serious mukbanging.

Von’s Chicken
1070 N King St • 845-9510 • Palama Market Kalihi
1670 Makaloa St • 447-7700 • Palama Market Ala Moana
1102 Pensacola St • 800-3359 • Makiki

 

Two orders of Sam's (not the club) fried chicken wings because one ($8.95) won't be enough.

Two orders of Sam’s (not the club) fried chicken wings because one ($8.95) won’t be enough.

No. 3: Sam’s Delicatessen

Reminiscent of Von’s crispy fried wings, Sam’s takes their chicken a step further by marinating it in a shoyu-garlic-ginger mix before dredging in egg and seasoned flour and deep-frying to golden brown perfection. The result is a flavorful, succulent interior and a crisp exterior that nearly crumbles when you touch it. I love that you can order eight pieces on the side ($8.95) or a six-piece entree ($9.95) with four banchans and rice.

Sam’s Delicatessen • 1627 Nuuanu Ave #2 • 524-7777 • Nuuanu

 

If you're looking for some seriously tasty fried chicken and waffles, look no further than the 3 piece honey butter chicken and waffles meal at Pancakes and Waffles ($11.49). Photo by Grant Shindo

Pancakes and Waffles’ three-piece honey butter chicken and waffles meal ($11.49). — Photo by Grant Shindo

No. 2: Pancakes and Waffles

Making the list once again, Pancakes and Waffles is home to my second favorite fried chicken. Here we swap out rice and veggies for a thick Belgian waffle piled with fist-sized golden nuggets covered in sweet honey butter. Grab extra napkins because once you dig in, you won’t come up for air until they’re gone. Lick your fingers, I won’t judge.

Pancakes and Waffles
City Square Shopping Center • 847-7770 • Kalihi
Waimalu Plaza Shopping Center • 200-7556 • Aiea

 

At $27, Fete Hawaii's fried chicken entree isn't your average fast food three-piece special.

At $27, Fete Hawaii’s entree isn’t your average fast-food two-piece special.

No. 1: Fete Hawaii

At Fete Hawaii, Robynne Maii’s take on this southern classic goes well beyond a typical fried chicken entree. Half a Mary’s chicken (minus the wings) is twice fried, resulting in moist meat encased in a thick, crunchy shell of battered skin. The pleasure of biting in is heightened by the cheesy Charleston grits and tangy tomato jam it’s served with. Winner winner chicken dinner.

Fete Hawaii • 2 N. Hotel St. • 369-1390 • Chinatown