No. 16: The Chicken at XA Sweet & Savory Cafe

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Edwin Goei
Like Kasey Kasem, we're counting down the hits, except ours nourish your belly as well as your soul. Just a few weeks left in our listicle of listicles known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!

Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never fully review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...

Yes, it's not the first time, nor will it be the last time you'll see something from XA Sweet & Savory Cafe on this list. We talked about the salad already, and somewhere closer to the Top 10, you'll hear about their cookies. But I'd be doing y'all a disservice if I didn't put the chicken on this countdown.

My, my, my, that chicken! Juice-bursting, tender, perfectly cooked, an amazing feat considering it's a boneless, skinless piece of breast meat--a protein not apt to being all of the above. Shawn Xa, the man behind the dish and the restaurant, has figured out not just to cook it well so that you actually prefer it over pork, but he does it in less time than most places can make you a burger

I equate XA's chicken as the poultry equivalent of the best steakhouse steak. You can enjoy it plain. But why should you? When XA first opened, choices of spice mix dusts the chicken, but now, XA offers it with an array of sauces, proving that even perfection can be perfected.

The sauces are just as exotic and adventurous as the spices were, all of them containing some sort of hot pepper. The tamarind-based sauce has chunks of tart tamarind in it. The chile and lime sauce tastes exactly like what Thai restaurants use for their salads. And the maple and spice, my favorite thus far, tastes as if an Indian mother was in the kitchen.

Be sure to have it with whatever sauteed vegetable he has on special and also the potato pancake, a hot crispy square of starch that's not quite a hash brown, or mashed potato, but something in between. This complete and, dare I say "gourmet", chicken dinner can be yours for less than $10.

Afterwards, get a cookie. Stay tuned for that later.

See also:

The list:

17. Mashed Potatoes at Tender Greens
18. Twice-Baked Potato Purée at James Republic
19. Salmon at Tavern On The Coast
20. Omakase at Sushi Noguchi
21. Pescado Zarandeado at Mariscos Los Primos
22. Sausage Anything from Sabatino's
23. Cemita Poblana from El Camino Real Market
24. Champurrado and Pan Dulce from Las Tres Princesas
25. Grilled Watermelon Salad At XA Sweet & Savory Cafe
26. Beer Brat At LinX
27. Bloody Mary Brunch at Charlie Palmer
28. Pork Belly Slider From The Golden Truffle
29. Hot Chocolate at The Catch
30. 95% of the Menu at Confetti Italian Ice
31. Hu Tieu at Hu Tieu Thanh Xuan
32. Beef Salad (aka "The Bobby Special") at Sophy's Fine Thai & Cambodian Cuisine
33. "No Soup" Ramen at Santouka Ramen
34. Wild Mushroom Taco at Taco Asylum
35. Chivito at Puerto Madero/El Gaucho #2
36. Lamb Burger at Haven Gastropub
37. Breakfast Tacos at Chelas Mexican Grill
38. Grilled Brie With Apples And Fig Jam at Boudin SF
39. Fried Almond Shrimp Balls at Capital Seafood
40. Tulsa Potatoes At Tulsa Rib Company
41. Tiropites from Kentro Greek Kitchen
42. Pasta Salad from Crave
43. Chicken Plate at Surfin' Chicken
44. Rosemary Madeleine from Little Sparrow
45. Umeboshi Ochazuke at Kappo Suzumaru
46. Soft Tofu Soup at DooRei
47. Hitsumabushi at Sagami
48. The Fireball at Cortina's
49. Paint It Black Pie at Rebel Bite
50. Pidan Doufu at I-Tea Cafe
51. The Happy Hour Specials at Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill
52. Free Happy Hour Food at Gulliver's
53. Banh Tom at Van's Restaurant
54. Dinner at Marrakesh
55. Congee at Capital Seafood
56. Taquito Burrito at Cuca's Mexican Food
57. Clam Chowder at Billy's at the Beach
58. Volcan at Tacos Ruben y Mulitas
59. The Burger at ARC
60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave
61. Lime Curd At Playground
62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream
63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts
64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market
65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King
66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos
67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango
68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub
69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ
70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground
71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish
72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market
73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul
74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege
75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17
76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen
77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza
78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille
79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla
81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore
82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking
83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar
84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai
86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express
87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo
88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House
89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar
90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House
91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market
92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro
93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe
94. Coney Dog at LinX
95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas
96. Clayuda at El Fortín
97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express
98. The Meats at Darya in Orange
99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora
100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

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Location Info

Xa Sweet & Savory Café

424 S. Main St., Orange, CA

Category: Restaurant


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