Once in a while, one has got to indulge in a little of what I like to call “dirty food”.
Doughy pizza piled with lots of oozy, melted cheese and loaded with slices of cured meat that are speckled liberally with pockets of delicious fat.
Burgers with their shiny and pillow-soft bread buns, stuffed full of doubtfully-sourced meat patty, overly-salty pickle, a plethora of sticky sauce and squeaky cheese.
Ranch fries: French fries piled like a mountain on a plate, topped with creamy mayonnaise, zingy ranch sauce, gloriously crispy bacon bits, melted cheese and a scatter of freshly chopped spring onions. Just one chip, you say? Oh, what a shame – the cheese makes them all stick together and so you end up with a handful. What a shame.
Just over a year ago after my visit to Taiwan, I had posted up a blog post of Taiwan Street Food, in which I included my once a trip indulgence at the legendary Shilin night markets: Hot Star Fried Chicken. At $1.85AU for a battered, deep-fried chicken schnitzel the size of your face; searingly hot and topped with optional chilli powder, it’s dirty food at its finest.
Look how happy I am with my chicken! How sweet and nostalgic.
So when I heard that Hot Star Fried Chicken had expanded down to Sydney – my heart stopped. As it would. Early cardiac arrest, maybe? Only a visit to the place and a taste test could establish if it was indeed the one-and-only legendary chicken schnitzel. I severely doubted it would be priced at $1.85 per piece, but hey, we are in Sydney after all…
Brother Bear and I had scheduled to see Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier that evening at Event Cinemas, and so decided to have a quick dinner here before our screening.
The decision as to what to get was pretty easy. Just one of everything, of course! There’s a choice of how spicy to have your schnitzel, from little spicy to extra spicy. Considering my relatively low chilli tolerance, we elected for little spicy. You’re given a receipt with your number and a few plastic bags so you can carry your fried goods away later on. Then you wait patiently amongst all of the other people awaiting deep fried goodness.
While we were waiting, we were trying to figure out what drink it was that we had gotten, as we had bypassed the regular Sprite and Fanta and told them to give us the red can – which neither of us could read (I really should work on my Chinese, hey :/). A mystery is always good, right??
We both had a sip – he thought it was prune juice, I thought it was grass jelly, and then when I got home later that evening and showed my Mother the photo, she said it was Chinese tea.
Anyway, after not too long a wait, our number was called, our goods collected and I suggested we cross the road into the World Square Shopping Centre, as they have a few seats in the main courtyard area. We were lucky enough to score squishy beanbags before we laid out our booty.
So – first test – was the schnitzel the right size?
Check. The Original schnitzel ($7.90) was crispy on the outside, perfectly tender on the inside, not greasy-tasting at all, and luckily “little spicy” was just the right amount for me – enough to set my nose running, but not enough to have me panting for a glass of milk. Brother Bear was surprised at how hot little spicy was, and said that he didn’t even want to think about how intense “extreme spicy” would have been. And it does have bones, so do be careful towards the end of the packet.
We had elected for the chilli mayo sauce with our Curly Fries ($3.90). They were what curly fries are supposed to be, really, and nothing much more. The chilli mayo lacked a little lustre, but it may have paled in comparison due to the kick from the “little spicy” Original chicken.
I was more of a fan of the Sweet Potato Fries ($3.90), as I’ve had them out once before when KFC decided to do them briefly (and very poorly), and these kicked the KFC attempt to the kerb. Very, very naturally and delightfully sweet, hot, and perfectly crispy. I would order this again the next time I go back.
I wasn’t a fan at all of the Mushrooms ($4.90), which consisted of battered and deep fried king mushrooms.
The mushrooms hadn’t been marinated and the batter under-seasoned, so it was very strange biting through the crisp batter to a squishy, unusually juicy centre with very little flavour. I think I had two of these and abandoned them to Brother Bear to finish off (as is the usual fashion when we eat out), in favour of the Chicken bites ($5.90):
Apologies for the out-of-focus photo; this was taken at a moment of peak excitement. If I came back to Hot Star Fried Chicken and I restrained myself to only order one thing, this would be it. Perfect chunks of juicy, tender chicken breast, battered and deep-fried before being tossed in seasoning (salt, pepper, allspice) and a light dusting of chilli powder. So convenient to eat with a fork out of the paper bag, and you’re saved the hassle of dealing with the bones from the Original schnitzel. High fives all round…
Unsurprisingly, Brother Bear and I later went into the cinema feeling quite ill. I feel that I’m supposed to attach a health hazard to this post, in saying that I only bought everything at once for the sheer sake of sampling it all for you guys. Please don’t try it alone.
Until the craving next hits….
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken
96 Liverpool St
Sydney NSW 2000
(No telephone number – just find them!)