LA Fried Chicken Fest Recap

The Coop: Chicken Lava Rock

A few months ago, someone asked me why comfort food was such a big thing in the States right now. I have a theory that with the bad economy, people were less focused on fine dining but that didn’t mean they didn’t still like good food. It’s amazing how quickly food trucks, gourmet burgers, gourmet pizza, ramen and now fried chicken became popular. Yes, people always liked those things but it’s another thing when they become chic and almost normal to pay over $10 for “comfort food.”

I have always liked fried chicken though. I even did a fried chicken crawl a few months back. My childhood fried chicken was Pioneer Chicken. And I loved the chicken from Lucky Deli in Chinatown. Although I don’t eat fast food (with the exception of In N Out pre or post road trips), I still eye every Louisiana Fried Chicken and Popeye Fried Chicken every now and then. While I like Korean fried chicken and karaage (Japanese fried chicken), fried chicken means American fried chicken to me. Still, I’m happy to eat it in all forms and speedily bought my ticket to the first LA Fried Chicken Fest. It’s a good thing I did because it sold out and there was a massive waiting list.

The Coop –  Chicken Lava Rock

Held at the new “permanent pop-up” The Coop (which officially opens September 21), the former Japanese restaurant Gonpachi saw 600 plus people waiting to eat fried chicken. Chefs from Border Grill, The Spice Table, Baco Mercat, Picca/ Mo-Chica, Jitlada, MB Post, Mozza and of course Marcel Vigneron and Haru Kishi from the Coop served served fried chicken.

Border Grill – aji amarillo fried chicken

I’m not going to try to pick favorites because everyone’s going to be mad at me if I said I have an ultimate favorite. No, seriously. Some people are really into fried chicken. Let’s just say though I did have a top three.

Starting with the Coop’s Chicken Lava Rock, this was the most unusual looking fried chicken. The batter had been darkened and it was served with a thick, creamy sweet sauce. I heard quite a few people declare this to be their favorite.

Border Grill’s Chef/Partner Mary Sue Milliken was on hand to serve the aji amarillo fried chicken with a generous heirloom bean salad tostadita. It was the most substantial side of all the vendors I tried that day.

Josh Goldman: Knob Creek & Watermelon, El Tesoro Punch

Josh Goldman and crew from Mess Hall were serving punch to the thirsty crowd. I really liked the new Knob Creek rye. The Knob Creek and watermelon was refreshing and the El Tesoro Punch was much needed after some of the spicier fried chicken pieces.

Jitlada – kao mok kai

Over a Thai favorite Jitlada, the kao mok kai (fried chicken) was served with yellow curry rice and and a daringly hot sauce. Well, daringly because it seemed like the 5 people around me dared me to add the hot sauce. I felt it was necessary though if that’s how Chef Jazz Singsanong wants you to have it. Her fried chicken wasn’t breaded like American fried chicken but it’s still so good.

Picca / Mo-Chica – crispy quinoa coated chicken

Chef Ricardo Zarate of Picca and Mo-Chica created a special crispy quinoa coated chicken. I liked it but I like his chicken chicharrones more.

Mozza – fried chicken & buttermilk biscuit

I give Mozza points for the best presentation. Though they did have an advantage of being situated next to the koi pond. With individual buckets of chicken, they ran out first leaving some severely disappointed chicken fiends. I was able to try the fried chicken though and it was very good. Do they do fried chicken nights? I might have to find out as I haven’t been there in a long time (so long in fact I don’t even have a proper post for them).

Spice Table – Curry fried chicken

Unfortunately my only picture of the Spice Table’s curry fried chicken is extremely blurry. I apologize. But true to their name, their chicken was spicy! And it made me laugh they encouraged you to use even more hot sauce with it! Good thing it was served with mashed potatoes and a delicious lamb gravy.

MB Post – honey truffle laced fried chicken

I give Chef David LeFevre the award for being the most humorous and cheerful chef that day. While I was trying to cut my chicken lava rock, he came over to “help” me. But he really just meant to steal a bite! I really need to make it down to MB Post again soon. I was so in love with my meal there and I still haven’t tried brunch. I wonder if he would consider serving fried chicken for brunch? I need to get some more honey truffle laced fried chicken.

Baco Mercat – Moroccan Spiced Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Okay, I know I said wouldn’t name an ultimate favorite. But…my favorite was Baco Mercat’s Moroccan Spiced buttermilk fried chicken. It was just juicy and tender. I may have to go tomorrow. Actually, I am going tomorrow. They only serve fried chicken, cheese and charcuterie during the hours between brunch and dinner on weekends.

I am looking forward to next year’s fried chicken fest!

LA Fried Chicken Fest

© The Minty 2012