Universally loved, the language of 'fried chicken' knows no bounds and even my most Adonis-esque friend treats himself every now and then. A dish which is gradually overcoming its negative stigma, generated by the joints that don't do it justice, critics have clearly never eaten at one of our picks. From classic guilty pleasures to some lesser-known gems, here are the best fried chicken joints you should flock to.
Tucked in the atrium above Chancery, Pocha has dedicated a portion of its menu to Korean-style fried chicken (nine ways) and established itself as a mecca for this crowd pleaser. The garlic butter chicken offers crunchy morsels coated in an unexpectedly sweet honey garlic sauce, the almond karaage offers big chicken pieces and an even bigger almond coating. But the winner on the day was certainly the Yang Nyeom fried chicken which is fried to perfection and then doused in Pocha's 'special spicy sauce'. Elevate your meal with a bottle of the Pomegranate Soju which is sure to provide the perfect hit of sugary sweetness.
Chancery Square, 50 Kitchener Street, CBD
Auckland's latest BYO de jour, Pok Pok is doing basically everything right — and that includes impressing wine-fuelled restaurant critics with its house fried chicken wings. Marinated in fish sauce before frying, the Pok Pok wings are tossed in a delightful second round of caramelised fish sauce with fried garlic and chilli. Anglo-Vietnamese fusion food at its finest.
261 Karangahape Road
Serving neighbourhood soul food and well-positioned to take advantage of hearty footy fan appetites, Ralph's has nailed the proportions of its awesome fried chicken. Salty, crispy, tender and moist all at once, the dish is topped off with spicy chipotle mayonnaise and a hint of citrus — made even more enjoyable by its super cool industrial décor aesthetic.
225B Dominion Road, Mount Eden
Another central-city offering with BYO capacity, Ah Ssak might not be the most glamorous joint but gosh darn they know how to serve up some fried chicken. Offering around eight Korean-style varieties which range from cheese-fried through to soy sauce and garlic chicken. Bonus points for their five-piece, half and full chook size range suitable for even the most delicate appetites.
472 Queen Street, CBD
Easily the classiest way to impress a date and still enjoy some fried chicken, Ebisu's free-range karaage is best enjoyed with an ice-cold Asahi and lashings of soy onion dressing. Doing karaage a little differently, I loved the mixed carrot salad, which gave just the right tangy/sweet injection to offset the crunchy coating and my best shot at enjoying relatively guilt-free fried goodness.
116-118 Quay Street, CBD
BONZ CAJUN KITCHEN
A cute little date joint which promises 'Auckland's only authentic Cajun cooking', Bonz Cajun Kitchen in Elliott Stables certainly delivers the goods. The Southern fried chicken looks delectable with chicken breast and extra crunchy buttermilk coating however it's the Jamaican jerk chicken which won me over — hand-rubbed with a spicy Cajun blend and blackened with mesquite smoke, Bonz offers one of the more sophisticated versions of chicken on our list.
39 Elliott Street, CBD
Maybe I am biased because Tiger Burger's K-Fries are almost beyond my comprehension of deliciousness, but their Seoulful Bites are a very close second place. Boasting free-farmed boneless Korean-style fried chicken in a tangy yang nyum glaze with a honey garlic mayonnaise, the team at Tiger Burger get extra points for being one of the coolest little neighbourhood joints and always serving with a smile.
549 Great North Road, Grey Lynn
Renowned for bagels, doughnuts and traditional 'Murica fare, it would be disappointing if Al's hadn't nailed their fried chicken. Fortunately for us, they've hit a home-run with the Plateau Bites. Boneless chicken coated in buttermilk, secret spices and served up with your choice of ranch, hot, sweet and sour, barbeque or aioli.
THE PIE PIPER
Best known for immensely sweet dessert pies and doughnuts that bite like a pillow and radiate with florescent glaze, The Pie Piper's American roots run deep with patriotic offerings like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and fried chicken. The fried chicken here is Southern style: salty, crispy and moist. Best paired with freshly baked scone-ish buttermilk biscuits, ranch dressing, cheese and iceberg lettuce.
321 Karangahape Road
One of my favourite restaurants since visiting the very cool Wellington establishment years ago, Monsoon Poon's Firecracker Chicken has held a place on the podium for me ever since. Spicy goodness which is not for the faint of heart, these tasty morsels are rubbed in Malaysian chilli paste before being wok-fried and served steaming to your table. A great place for families and workmates, Monsoon's Viaduct position is handy and their cocktail menu would be an oversight to ignore.
Lower Hobson Street
No round of up fried chicken would be complete without old mate Colonel Sanders, but you best believe that not all KFCs are created equal. Head out to the suburbs for the best of the bird, namely KFC in Mangere where the portions are generous, the coating always crispy and the details (like seasoning) certainly make the difference.