Tasty Chicken at Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice

Yang's Braised Chicken RiceLocation: 780 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Website: http://yangschicken.ca/

Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice is a Chinese chain that recently opened seven simultaneous locations in the GTA.  Opening one restaurant is tricky enough; I can’t even imagine what must go into opening so many at the same time.

Whatever kinks they had (and there must have been kinks) since opening in September have clearly been worked out; the food and service were both top-notch.  Apparently they have over six thousand locations worldwide, so I guess opening seven more is no big deal.

Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

As you can probably guess from the name, Yang’s specializes in braised chicken rice, a dish in which tender, saucy braised chicken is served with a bowl of rice.

You can either get it standard or boneless (I went with the former), and you can pick your spice level (I picked “authentic,” which was actually quite mild; I’ll probably go spicier next time).

It seemed a bit simple at first, but it really grew on me; by the time I was done, I was 100 percent into it.

Yang's Braised Chicken Rice

The chicken is quite tender, and has a nice soy-sauce-infused flavour from the braising liquid.  Combined with the rice and the richly flavourful sauce, it’s surprisingly addictive.

Oddly enough, however, the chicken wasn’t the highlight — it was the slices of mushroom in the sauce.  These things do an amazing job of soaking up all the flavour from the dish; they’re basically chewy little flavour bombs.  They’re delightful.

Amazing Shawarma at Shawarma Frenzy

Shawarma FrenzyLocation: 1011 Pape Avenue, Toronto
Website: None

I think the shawarma wrap at Shawarma Frenzy might just be the best deal in the city (it’s in the top five, that’s for sure).  It costs a mere $6.75, it’s the approximate size and heft of a small baby, and it’s crazy delicious.  There’s no downside.

Shawarma Frenzy

The chicken shawarma itself is absolutely outstanding; it nails every element.  Most importantly, it’s got a surfeit of the dark crispy bits that makes great shawarma so satisfying, but it’s not dried out at all, with tender, juicy meat.  And it’s really nicely seasoned.  It’s amazing.

Shawarma Frenzy

And the wrap features a very, very generous amount of meat, not to mention a good balance of fresh veggies, zingy pickles, and tasty sauces.  It has a nice garlicky hit, but it’s not so aggressive that you’ll be tasting garlic for the rest of the day.  I wish it were a little bit spicier (it’s just barely spicy), but that’s a very minor complaint.

The pita bread is great too — it’s fresh, a little bit chewy, and nicely crisped up in a sandwich press.  It’s a top notch shawarma wrap.  And it’s $6.75!  That’s ridiculous.

Stellar Ramen at Kyouka Ramen

Kyouka RamenLocation: 2222 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: https://kyouka.ca/

The Beaches is a bit of a culinary wasteland; there are a lot of restaurants along the main stretch of Queen, but almost none of them are particularly good.

There are exceptions, however.  One of them is Kyouka Ramen; it easily serves some of the best ramen in the city.

Kyouka Ramen

I ordered the namesake Kyouka ramen: “daily chicken + pork broth, kombu dashi, aromatic sesame oil, green chives, bean sprouts, pork + chicken chashu, egg, naruto fish cake, wood ear mushroom, chili paste.”

The broth — a mixture of chicken and pork — is delightful.  It’s got that rich roasty, meaty flavour that you want from a top-shelf bowl of ramen, and it’s got it in spades.  It’s really nicely seasoned, with a good level of salt that helps all the other flavours sing, but never feels overwhelming.  It looks a bit greasy, but it doesn’t feel oily at all.  It’s top notch stuff.

Kyouka Ramen

The rest of the bowl is hit and miss, but the soup itself is so good that it barely even matters.

The noodles were probably the biggest issue.  They were slightly overcooked, and didn’t quite have that satisfying chew that you’re looking for from a great bowl of ramen.

The pork chashu was tender and delicious, with a mild smoky flavour that was quite tasty.  The chicken, however, was slightly dry and a bit tasteless.

Kyouka Ramen

The egg was perfectly cooked, with a nice gooey but not runny yolk — but it was underseasoned and bland.  Everything else was quite good.

Still, that soup was tasty enough that the bowl would easily be in my top five in Toronto.  It’s so good.

Chica’s Chicken: The Best Fried Chicken in the City

Chica's ChickenLocation: 2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.chicaschicken.net/

I’ve said a few times that Chica’s probably serves the best fried chicken in the city.  Well, I take it back.  At this point, I can confidently say that it’s not probably the best fried chicken in the city — it is the best fried chicken in the city.  It’s insanely good.

I just tried the Small Fry Sando, which is Chica’s “small” sandwich (it’s small only by their standards; it’s quite hefty) that comes topped with coleslaw, pickles, and Chica’s Sauce, which they describe as a Thousand Island-style dressing.

It’s so good.  I mean, just look at it.  What’s that?  You want another angle?  Well, okay.

Chica's Chicken

The fried chicken itself is almost improbably delicious — the exterior is crunchy and amazingly well seasoned, and the chicken is profoundly juicy.  It’s weird how good it is.

Everything else complements it perfectly, particularly the sauce, which is clearly about a million times better than any Thousand Island I’ve had before.  It’s a top-shelf sandwich.

Chica's Chicken

I also tried the fried pickles, and hey, wouldn’t you know it — they’re outstanding.  The thinly-sliced pickle chips feature a perfectly crispy exterior; I’ve had some fried pickles where the crisp-factor isn’t quite there, but these are amazing.  The zippy, slightly sweet seasoning complements them perfectly, as does the delicious ranch dipping sauce (which, like the Thousand Island, is way better than your average ranch).

Lay’s Bar-B-Q Tenders at KFC

Lay's Bar-B-Q Tenders at KFCLocation: 3015 Winston Churchill Boulevard, Mississauga
Website: https://www.kfc.ca/

Coating a piece of fried chicken in flavoured potato chips is pretty bizarre; it’s also obvious enough that I’m surprised KFC or some other fast food chain hasn’t done it sooner.  This is particularly odd in a post Doritos Locos world, where mashing up two seemingly disparate but complementary flavours has revealed itself to be a gold mine.

Lay's Bar-B-Q Tenders at KFC

Anyway, KFC has finally done it, and yeah, it’s good.

The Lay’s Bar-B-Q Tenders, according to KFC: “Canadian farm raised chicken tenders coated in Lay’s sweet and smoky Bar-B-Q potato chips”.

Lay's Bar-B-Q Tenders at KFC

The flavour is pleasingly familiar, with a nice balance of sweetness and tanginess; if you’ve had Lay’s BBQ chips, then it tastes as you’d expect.  The whole thing is exactly what you think (and hope) it’s going to be.

I will say, however, that these taste like they were made with plain chips and then seasoned post-fry.  This is mostly not an issue, aside from the fact that the seasoning is a bit uneven.

Lay's Bar-B-Q Tenders at KFC

Still, it’s a good quality chicken strip; the BBQ flavour complements it well, and the chip pieces add a nice crunch.  It’s one of those things that sounds weird on paper, but mostly just tastes pretty good (i.e. it’s not a Double Down, which is a fun gimmick until you actually eat it).

This is entirely down to the luck of the draw, but my order was hot and fresh, which definitely helped.  The chicken could have been a bit more tender, but for white meat, it’s not bad.