Opening up a fried chicken joint in Cabramatta is no easy feat — it's a part of town that tends to stick with tradition and rarely strays away from tried-and-tested Asian cuisine. So it says a lot that Papa Do's Chicken is busy. By mixing typical American dishes with Asian influences, it seems to have the schtick to appeal to both the young population ready to embrace new and the older generation that may need more of a push to do so.
This ability to cater to both types of diners is noticeable in the way the space has been decorated; a full-wall graffiti mural and a large modern painting is paired with kitschy little chicken and rooster figurines that sit on each table. The few dishes that feel classically Asian are mostly restricted to sides, like the Sichuan egg noodles ($6), which stick out on the menu like a sore thumb. These spicy, salty and lightly creamy noodles are good on their own, but don't mesh very well with the rest of the menu.
We suggest sticking to Papa Do's hero dish: the fried chicken. The basic serve — 350 grams of either wings, tenders or drumsticks and thighs with your choice of sauce — is tender, yet crispy on the outside (as all good fried chicken should be). The chilli barbecue sauce isn't as spicy as you'd think and veers more towards a plum sauce punched up using aromatics like lemongrass. A more interesting option is the pho jus, a meaty gravy laden with onions and with hints of traditional pho spices (think star anise and cardamom). Order it on the side for dipping.
Also on the menu is a burger that takes the typical fried chicken sandwiched between a soft bun and gives it a welcome Asian spin with a little pawpaw chutney and a Vietnamese-style slaw of cabbage, pickles, red onions, herbs and fish sauce ($15). Just to be clear: this is not the place to be dainty with a knife and fork — you've just got to get down and dirty and use your hands. Wash it down either the Asian or American way, with an ice-cold lychee shake ($6) or a peanut butter milkshake ($5), respectively.
Papa Do's is one of the new-wave of restaurants adding something new to Cabramatta. Without abandoning the food scene around it, the eatery succeeds in adding Asian ingredients to some of Sydney's biggest food fads — showing just how you open a fried chicken joint in Cabramatta.
Images: Katje Ford.