10 Great Chicken Dishes in Orange County (and Long Beach)

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Edwin Goei

There are lot of chicken dishes out there and I have only ten slots on this list. So I picked out my faves using my own unscientific criteria of what constitutes a chicken dish, ruling out others because chicken wasn't the star. What remains are dishes where I felt America's favorite poultry got top billing. I did mix in different kinds of prep. There are a few pan-seared birds, a few rotisserie ones, and a whole mess of deep-fried chickens, because, let's face it, some of the best chickens are deep-fried. 

But I'd like to hear yours. What's your favorite way to consume the original white meat? Comment boards are open for more finger lickin' discussions.

10. At Last Cafe's Brick Chicken The Brick Chicken is the apotheosis of what At Last Café is all about: Take a simple dish, charge a fair value, do it better than anyone else. For his poultry masterpiece, Chef John McLaughlin meticulously debones a half-chicken, cooks it under the weight of a brick, and serves it with smashed potatoes, veggies and pan gravy made from the drippings. The result? A chicken dinner that is one of the best I've ever had: crispy, mahogany skin reminiscent of the best Armenian rotisserie hen and meat so juicy it bursts.
   
9. Quan Hy's Xoi Ga
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Edwin Goei
Xoi ga is sticky rice with chicken, a Vietnamese street dish that, if I wanted to oversimplify, closely mirrors Hainan chicken--boiled or steamed hen presented usually shredded or cut-up into pieces over steamed sticky sweet rice. But what Quan Hy serves as xoi ga is not this. The chicken isn't so much "shredded" as it is compressed and fried. Fried to be one of the most delectable, succulent pieces of poultry I've had. In its uniform flatness is a shape as sleek as an iPhone where an entire, intact chicken thigh is squeezed into a compact frame. The flavor is seeped through and through from an aromatic marinade that tastes similar to what's used on traditional Vietnamese fried chicken called ga chien. The meat is well-cooked, crisped to dark brown on the edges exposed to oil, and moist everywhere else. The rendered skin crackles, slit like gills at strategic locations on the patty so that it stays attached during cooking. Then there's the sweet rice, a reinterpretation that has the sticky starch formed into rectangular spears and deep-fried. The eyes expect either a tater tot or a French toast stick; but the mouth experiences something even better: an oily, Rice Krispy-like crunch leading to a soft, rice-pudding-like center. You dip it in the accompanying sweetened soy dipping sauce, which it absorbs like a sponge.

8. Pizza and Chicken Love Letter's Crispy Fried Chicken
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Edwin Goei
Pizza & Chicken Lover Letter's "Crispy Fried Chicken" wears a crust more akin to batter than breading. But even here, the bird exhibits the common link to all Korean-style fried chicken: a skin thoroughly rendered of fat to become wisps, and often thoroughly absorbed and fused into the batter. The flavor is concentrated with a light touch of soy sauce, but the meat tastes of pure poultry-ness. Like its competitor BBQ Chicken across the parking lot at Irvine's Diamond Jamboree, Love Letter does not seem to brine their birds, letting the meat become the platform on which the flavored crust and pickles build upon. The chickens are cooked well and juicy, even the white meat. The breast pieces are cut up into smaller segments so that no one person hogs it all...which is not to say it won't still happen.


Location Info

At Last Cafe

204 Orange Ave., Long Beach, CA

Category: Restaurant

Quan Hy Restaurant

9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, CA

Category: Restaurant

Thai Nakorn

12532 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, CA

Category: Restaurant

Hungry Bear Restaurant

2219 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA

Category: Restaurant

Memphis At The Santora - CLOSED

201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA

Category: Restaurant

Pizza & Chicken Love Letter

2600 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA

Category: Restaurant

Zankou Chicken

2424 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim, CA

Category: Restaurant

Inka Grill Rotisserie Chicken - CLOSED

562 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, CA

Category: Restaurant

Da Luau

14151 Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA

Category: Restaurant

Honda Ya Japanese Restaurant

556 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA

Category: Restaurant

Thai Nakorn

11951 Beach Blvd., Stanton, CA

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
38 comments
Pamela Perry
Pamela Perry

Irene Kerley ... 10 restaurants you can take me to on my next trip. Get busy trying them out.

Angel Garcia
Angel Garcia

Seriously.... Stop trying to make Long Beach part of OC! the LA Weekly is foolish enough to not feature the LBC and it's great events and the OC Weekly keeps trying to claim us as part of the OC. We're happy just being Long Beach.

Tuan Tran
Tuan Tran

They are missing Mrs. Knotts' fried chicken. Knotts Berry Farm

Argyle Street
Argyle Street

Check out the chicken at the newly opened Celebrity Soul Food in Lake Forest. The lady and I just went there the other day and the baked chicken as well as the southern fried chicken was incredible.

Cori Jones
Cori Jones

There's a closed down restaurant on the list. Great reporting.

simplepink
simplepink

Didn't know they had fried chicken, def must TRY!!

Michael Heredia
Michael Heredia

As you exit the 55 Fwy and head down Newport Blvd, there is BC Broiler. I've been coming here since 1986 and although I no longer live in OC, if I'm going to the beach, I always stop here on the way in or out.

Michael Heredia
Michael Heredia

As you exit the 55 Fwy and head down Newport Blvd, there is BC Broiler. I've been coming here since 1986 and although I no longer live in OC, if I'm going to the beach, I always stop here on the way in or out.

JohnnyT
JohnnyT

Surfin Chicken in San Clemente is the best in California

simplepink
simplepink

Hmm....I'm so disappointed you left out some other amazing chicken joints that should have made the list!!

Chicken Maison is AMAZING!! AMZINGGG! Huckleberry's Famous Sandwiches which offers broasted fried chicken! that's pretty good too!

It's really hard to pick when you mix in rotisserie chicken with fried chicken. They should be evaluated separately IMO. Would be more fair but I'm no writer!

Rocket J
Rocket J

Chicken Pot Pie at La Palma Chicken Pie Shop

JB
JB

If this list were to have included "tastes like chicken," the battered "Save the Chicken" at Native Foods [two strips of which are speared on top of the excellent, excellent Soul Bowl] would have edged its way in.

Rick
Rick

You left off Mrs Knott's chicken dinner!........NO way!

foodgps
foodgps

Boneless breast meat rates #1? That's hard to believe, since dark meat, on-the-bone bird is almost always better than breast, but the Inka Grill, Quan Hy and At Last Cafe dishes look good.

Bill T.
Bill T.

You presented your opinion respectfully, I rate your post as 100% valid.

Note that Edwin also avoided arrogance, explicitly pointing out hat he was listing restaurants he believes to be of note, not necessarily "best", and, again explicitly, asked for your opinion.

909Jeff
909Jeff

I like their fried chicken too! 

simplepink
simplepink

I've been. Very cute shop and pies are pretty good too!

simplepink
simplepink

Mrs. KNOTT'S isn't that great!!! Not enough batter and kind of dry. Just saying.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

I think it has something to do with Boysenberries and racism.  Not sure. 

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

That's the genius of it, Josh. It really is very good.

Annie Nguyen-Habermann
Annie Nguyen-Habermann

I hate HATE "normal" chicken breast, but Memphis' fried chicken is amazing... and it does have a bone.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Oh, now you expect the Trolls to actually come up with cogent reasons for their opinions. Fat chance of that.   ;-)

Actually I get that you actually know that Artie won't be able to and are making a point in about 1/50 the words it takes me. Maybe that's why you're an editor and I'm an enginerd.

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