ALLAN REID: Chicken bonanza, Korean style

ALLAN REID: Chicken bonanza, Korean style

Simple Victoria restaurant knows how to please if your go-tos are chicken and fries

You’ve spent the afternoon swimming at Victoria’s Crystal Pool with your kids (or grandkids, as the case may be), and they are starving, and who doesn’t love fried chicken?

Lucky for you, Chicken 649 is right across the street. That little white box of a building on the corner of Quadra and Queens, the one with the sunshine yellow entrance? Don’t be scared, for it offers some mighty fine fried chicken.

Allan Reid, Monday restaurant reviewer

And this is budget dining. No expense has been made that wasn’t absolutely necessary. A stub-wall and short ramp turn arrivals toward the small counter, where a much amended menu is presented and orders and money are taken. Behind is the kitchen. A pair of beverage coolers stand to the left. The rest of the space can only be described as utilitarian and spartan.

A single relevant movie quote (from The Help) adorns one wall: the sole concession to decor. Otherwise the place is painted in peeling black and white. Wood-veneer tables and long-ago painted wooden chairs with well-worn white leather seats and a long grey wooden bench complete the room. Oh, and the pair of portable electric heaters by the window. But the place seems clean enough.

I ordered the 649 Original Lunch Special ($9.50), which offers five pieces of chicken, six jumbo potato wedges and a can of pop with ketchup and mayonnaise for dipping. As an adult, I noted the absence of greens, and so ordered a green salad ($3). I then selected my pop of choice (or choose from a decent selection of local craft beer for extra cost) and returned to my seat.

Moments later a personal-size pizza box arrived at my table with a plastic take-out container of salad fresh from the fridge (only an odd fork is ever dirtied in this dining room). I suspect I got the coleslaw (same price), for it was not very green: shredded cabbage with flecks of carrot, celery and kale. It came covered in an unappetizing gelatinous substance reminiscent of congealed chicken fat but tasting like overly sweetened vinegar. I don’t expect much for $3, but I do expect an effort to please.

Of course, this is not a salad café. I’m here for Korean Fried Chicken, which, FYI, is lightly breaded in panko, pre-fried to reduce fat before deep frying, and has minimal seasoning. This chicken is light, crispy, toasty and neither too greasy, nor too salty. Salt is available if you need it. Same crust on the wedges, which are adorned with fresh minced herbs. My five pieces of chicken contained just two bones and plenty of soft and juicy meat. And those six wedges must have equalled one whole russet potato. A big meal and, honestly, I’ve never enjoyed better.

But if plain friend chicken seems, well, too plain, 649 offers six options to liven it up: sweet and spicy Yang-Nyeom, Soy-Garlic, Sweet Honey, Pa-Dak (topped with shredded green onion), Cilantro-Lime and Creamy Cheese (fried chicken is dipped in a cheese sauce and sprinkled with minced herbs).

Chicken can be ordered in eight or 16-piece boxes that are perfect to take home, to a park or to a party. In any case, arrive with a box or three and bask in the accolades. Dine in or take out, you and the kids will love you for at least as long as the flavour lingers and the bellies are full. Just slap down your inner adult and leave the salad in the fridge.

Chicken 649, 2224 Quadra St.

250-590-6491 chicken649.ca

*****

Also by Allan Reid:

Like fresh food? Find it in Cook Street Village

A good time for Thai in Estevan Village

Authentic Mexican molé hits the spot

FoodRestaurant review

 

ALLAN REID: Chicken bonanza, Korean style

Just Posted

Tim Sutherland Sr. likes to go down to Harbour Quay and feel the breeze on his face. On stormy days when the wind whips the rain into his face, he thinks of his son Tim Sutherland Jr., and wonders whether he is warm and dry. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Finding shelter from the storm

Search for housing a journey of false hope for Alberni father and adult son

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Nuu-chah-nulth nations on Vancouver Island hit hard by COVID-19

Eight nations dealing with positive tests, hospitalizations and death

Port Renfrew lies within the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. Could the town be B.C.’s next municipality? CRD director Mike Hicks is considering it. (File - Portrenfrew.com)
Rural Island official upset municipalities get 25 times the amount of COVID-19 relief

CRD director ‘almost speechless’ as Juan de Fuca receives small amount of COVID bailout money

A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)
New restrictions unmasking Vancouver Island’s belligerent

Businesses recount customer anger about mask edict, as police pledge fines and enforcement

The president and chief executive officer of BC Ferries promises additional reviews to help sustain BC Ferries. (Black Press Media File)
BC Ferries to review expenditures following 43 per cent passenger drop in 2020

Promise from CEO follows new figures showing significant decline in passengers

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

BC Transit confirmed on Dec. 1 that a Langford employee has tested positive for COVID-19. (Courtesy of BC Transit)
Langford transit worker tests positive for COVID-19

Island Health is conducting contact tracing for the case

Island Health is expanding COVID-19 testing in Nanaimo with a new testing location at Vancouver Island University. (News Bulletin file photo)
Island Health expands COVID-19 testing in Nanaimo

Health authority opens new testing site with double the capacity at Vancouver Island University

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for Colwood man last seen in September

Geoffrey Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

North Island mayors say their voices should be heard by DFO before final decisions are made about fish farms. (Black Press file photo)
North Island mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

DFO evaluating 18 Discovery Island fish farms and transitioning from open-net farms

Most Read