“The Bucket List” is a new series devoted to the best fried chicken in Los Angeles and the people who make it. When you think about the foods Los Angeles is known for — tacos, avocado toast, Thai, sushi, Chinese — fried chicken might not come to mind. But Los Angeles is home to some of the best fried chicken in the country, and Times Food writer Jenn Harris wants to eat and share it all.
She thinks of fried chicken as the great unifier; almost every culture has some form of fried poultry — often a dish rooted in comfort and family and good times. Jenn isn’t just a fried chicken tourist: She tries to (and usually does) eat fried chicken every day. She is at a new fried chicken joint the week it opens; she’s on a first-name basis with the places that have been good forever.
Jenn is the person to tell you where to find the best Taiwanese popcorn chicken or Korean chicken wings. She opines on the realness of Nashville hot chicken and who’s making it and can tell you why broasting chicken actually makes a damn fine fried chicken.
For the next 10 weeks, Jenn will introduce you to a fried chicken to know, love and be eating right now. Los Angeles is a fried chicken town, and this series is a love letter to all the great fried chicken in the city and the people behind it.
Fiery, melt-your-face-off, totally addictive Nashville hot chicken is the focus of our pilot episode, featuring Kim Prince of Hotville Chicken at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall and Johnny Ray Zone of Howlin’ Ray’s in Chinatown. Prince is hot chicken royalty; her great-great uncle Thorton invented the stuff in the 1930s. Zone was the first to bring hot chicken to L.A. and his fealty to the Prince family’s style and ethos has won him a fan in Prince. Jenn gets a lesson in how to make hot chicken from the two as they discuss the best ways to marinate, fry and eat fried chicken.
A fried chicken sandwich can be a little like a Rorschach test: The specific imprint of grease and schmutz and stray vegetation it leaves behind are a picture of the person who made it, or at least a good look at how they take something already delicious and try to put their own spin on it.
In this episode of the Bucket List, Jenn visits with two of her favorite fried chicken sandwiches in Los Angeles. The first — an unlikely alliance of schnitzel and Texas toast and herb-spiked mayonnaise — is as distinctive as everything chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson serve at their nouveau Middle Eastern spot Kismet. Jenn and the Sara(h)s then visit the Shad’s New Cali Catering food truck in Torrance to try chef Michael “Shad” Lawless’ Kickin’ Chicken sandwich. It’s closer to Southern tradition with a fried chicken breast, slaw and pickles on a buttery bun.
Frying chicken is a science and an art form. Knowing what tastes good is easy: juicy, well-seasoned meat plus crispy coating. How to make it delicious? That’s the tricky part.
In this episode of the Bucket List, Jenn enlists the help of Sang Yoon, the guy behind Father’s Office and Lukshon, to get nerdy about frying. Sang may be best known for his Father’s Office burger, but he’s a mad scientist of a chef who Alton Browns whatever he’s making, and he knows how to make some pretty excellent fried chicken.
First, the two visit Tokyo Fried Chicken Company in Monterey Park to try the restaurant’s signature hybrid of Southern fried and Japanese karaage. Then Jenn and Sang head to his test kitchen at the Helms Bakery building in Culver City, where the chef breaks down the basics of frying and offers tips on how to make the best fried chicken. Does his method involve a secret soundwave machine? You’ll have to watch and see.
In this episode of “The Bucket List,” Jenn meets up with Jocelyn and Justine Wong to try some of the best fried chicken and boba in the SGV. The sisters, who grew up in Hong Kong and now live in Los Angeles, spend a good amount of time eating all over the SGV and chronicle their adventures on their blog and Instagram account called the Hangry Diary.
Jocelyn and Justine first take Jenn to Sinbala in Arcadia, a place that serves a version of Taiwanese popcorn chicken they say is close to what you’ll find at the night markets in Taiwan. Then they visit Tastea in Alhambra, one of Jenn’s favorite places for boba and chicken.