This week, despite being on a “diet,” I ate some form of fried chicken 3 separate times. I decided diets are for squares.
My newest chicken obsession all started with a food truck called Free Range. While the food truck trend has pretty much keeled over and died a slow and painful death here in LA, this truck managed to resuscitate truck dining, for the moment. The main appeal of the Free Range trucks (besides the incredible food) is their set schedule. Following trucks on twitter an hunting them down was only fun for the people who worked at Myspace and out of work writers who didn’t really have anything better to do. For a normal person, sometimes you just wanted to eat and you weren’t willing to hope a truck you liked is still where it was supposed to be and didn’t have a Disneyland-like line. Free Range did what the other trucks should have done. You can check their website or Instagram (be one of the 23k people who current follow them) for operating hours, but they stick to an incredibly predictable schedule that is both convenient and dangerous for the hungry guy or gal on the go.
So why is this truck single handedly bringing back my desire to wait for 15 minutes on a sidewalk for food? Firstly, who doesn’t like fried chicken?! It’s crunchy fried protein! What Free Range does is make the most prefect fried chicken I’ve ever had. Yeah, I said it, and I mean it. It’s perfection. The best thing on the menu is the Original Free Range LA Chicken Sandwich which is Tempura Fried Free Range Chicken, Fresno Chili Coleslaw, Whole Grain Honey Mustard Sauce on a Toasted Portuguese Bun. I wholeheartedly urge you to add Honey Sriracha sauce to anything you order, but especially this sandwich. Free Range also has a laundry list of other things you can add to your sandwich like bacon, an over easy egg, cheese, avocado, and sausage; essentially if they have it on the truck they will put it on your sandwich. Free Range has other things on the menu (supposedly) from breakfast sandwiches to avocado toast to specials like the strawberry shortcake or beignets, but those things don’t really matter. What matters is this chicken sandwich. You can ADD other things, but if you don’t order this sandwich you’re definitely missing out.
Free Range can be found Monday-Friday mornings in front of Coffee Commissary on Fairfax Ave. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons they are in Culver City on Motor Ave. Tuesday and Saturday find them in front of Stumptown Coffee on Santa Fe Ave. Downtown. On Sunday mornings they are at the Farmers Market on Melrose Place. For more information visit their website at: http://www.freerangela.com/
*Note: I did not use my own photos because, in most cases, I just gobbled up my food before I remembered to take a photo.
My next fried chicken meal took me all the way to the San Gabriel Valley, land of Asian food. We initially decided to make the 1 ½ hour trek from Santa Monica to Alhambra, in rush hour traffic, on a quest to find a funnel cake ice cream sandwich (I KNOW!)
Unfortunately, the trip was a bust as we pulled up to find the last funnel cake ice cream sandwich being served to the person in front of us. Determined not to have felt like we made the trip for nothing, I opened my trusty Yelp app to see what I may have bookmarked in the area. I had saved a placed called Tokyo Fried Chicken in nearby Monterey Park. While neither of us wanted fried chicken (or really anything that wasn’t a funnel cake ice cream sandwich,) we begrudgingly drove over and waited 15 minutes to be seated. Mind you we were already in quite the mood. We were angry and hungry aka hangry, the worst thing a person can be. We KNEW we were not going to be happy. Then we ate. I cannot express how pleasantly surprised we were by this meal. The concept is basically a southern style fried chicken meal prepared with Japanese flavors. The main portion of the menu is set up for 2, 3, or 4 people and is $13.25 per person. The meal comes with a choice of sides, plus chicken broth rice and house pickled cabbage. Being “hangry”, we ordered a few additional items including the truffle buttered edamame, crispy fried chicken skin, battered potato chips, because we obviously needed more fried things.
We selected the soy glazed yams and upgraded to include the mac and cheese as our sides. Almost everything was a hit! A Home Run! Other sports reference! Though next time, I would probably skip the crispy chicken skin as it was completely unnecessary. We actually had a very difficult time even trying to pick a favorite dish. An early favorite was the battered potato chips, which are essentially flat French fries fried to perfection. When the main dish came out, we were already pretty stuffed. The meal is served with a spicy ponzu and a regular house made ponzu sauce that you can, and should, pour over everything. They also bring you a weird plastic glove so your chicken holding hand doesn’t get greasy, but I think that’s part of the appeal of eating fried chicken, so my glove remained unused. Another favorite was the mac and cheese with nori and rice crackers, which was gooey, rich, and very slightly briny from the nori on top. The chicken itself was coated in a thin smooth coating similar to Japanese karaage, and had a hint of sweetness which was beautifully complemented by the tangy ponzu sauce.
Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying meal. I know I would not have made the trek if I wasn’t lured under the guise of ice cream, but I’m certainly glad I did.