Passable Taiwanese Food at Chi Chop!!

Chi Chop!!Location: 2352 Yonge Street, Toronto
Website: http://chichop.ca/

You wouldn’t particularly know it from what they’re serving at Chi Chop (sorry — Chi Chop!!), but Taiwanese food is pretty great.  It has a lot in common with Chinese cuisine, but it’s also got its own thing going on in some very delightful ways.

Chi Chop!!

Chi Chop (!!) serves Taiwanese-style fried chicken, and it’s fine.  I got the Ninja crispy chicken bento box, which comes with a generous piece of boneless fried chicken, rice, a salad, three small spring rolls, and miso soup.

Nothing particularly stands out.  The fried chicken isn’t bad, but it’s made from white meat, and it’s predictably dry.  It’s also a bit too aggressively battered, with an overly thick exterior.

Chi Chop!!

Still, I didn’t dislike eating it.  It’s nicely seasoned, and there’s nothing blatantly wrong with it.  It’s missing the sauce from the photo on their menu (which would have been nice), but… I don’t know.  It didn’t offend me.  It’s a shrug.  An edible shrug.

Chi Chop!!

It probably doesn’t help that the set is a bit muddled; the chicken is Taiwanese, the soup is Japanese, and the spring rolls taste Filipino (they have a separate section of the menu dedicated to Filipino cuisine).  It definitely feels like a “Jack of all trades, master of none” situation.

Fried Chicken and Spaghetti at Jollibee

JollibeeLocation: 800 Boyer Boulevard, Mississauga (inside Seafood City Supermarket)
Website: http://jollibeecanada.com/

Jollibee opened locations in Scarborough and Mississauga in the last couple of years, and they were both immediately swamped.  People love Jollibee with a passion that’s unusual in the world of fast food.

I tried visiting the Mississauga location a couple of times when it first opened, and both times the line was way too intense.  But I figured it was safe enough to give it another shot, and yeah, the extreme crowds have died down.  I showed up at around 11:20 AM on a Friday and was able to order immediately, though by the time I left a line had already formed.

Jollibee

I ordered the Crispy Chicken Perfect Pair, which comes with a piece of fried chicken, Jolly Spaghetti, and a drink.

I assumed I’d like the fried chicken (and I did), but the spaghetti was a bit more of a question mark.  It’s topped with meat sauce with chunks of hot dog mixed in, and it’s notorious for being quite sweet.  I was expecting something in line with Chef Boyardee.

It’s interesting; the sauce is, as advertised, quite sweet.  But it’s also tangy, and kind of reminded me of a cross between a traditional tomato sauce and barbecue sauce.  It feels like it shouldn’t work, but it kinda does.  The salty hot dog slices help to round out the sweetness, as does the cheese on top.

Jollibee

The spaghetti itself isn’t exactly al dente, but it’s not mushy, either.  The whole thing is oddly compelling.  I liked it.

The fried chicken is more straightforward.  It basically tastes like KFC original recipe, but with a slightly more subtle flavour.  The chicken was nicely crispy on its exterior and very juicy inside.  It’s a quality piece of fried chicken.

Jollibee

Even the gravy is a bit more unique than you might think; it’s definitely not the typical brown gravy you’ll find at a fast food joint.  It’s a little bit sweet, and there’s a spice in there I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  It works really well with the fried chicken.

I ordered the peach mango pie for dessert, which is crispy and fried, as it should be.  The filling is basically a fruit-flavoured goo (there were maybe like two or three tiny bits of fruit in there), but it’s still quite tasty.  It’s basically impossible to go wrong with a deep fried pie.

Jollibee

Okay: I get it.  I get the lines.  It’s certainly not the best thing ever, but I can see why people who grew up with Jollibee have a deep fondness for the place.  It’s pretty unique.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich at Chica’s Chicken

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

Last summer, I tried just about everything on the menu at Chica’s Chicken, and decided that it was probably the best fried chicken in the city.

It’s still probably the best fried chicken in the city.  The Buffalo fried chicken sandwich is a newer addition to the menu, and it was every bit as amazing as I was hoping it would be.

It’s normally served on a brioche bun, but since they were out of those, it came on sliced bread instead.  I’m sure it would have been delicious on the bun, but the bread didn’t feel like a detriment.  It was an outstanding sandwich.

Chica's Chicken

The fried chicken was as crispy, flavourful, and juicy as ever, and the zingy Buffalo sauce just enhances it.  It’s topped with coleslaw and blue cheese sauce, and it’s absolutely perfect.  It’s the perfect Buffalo chicken sandwich.  I can’t think of a single thing I’d change.

Actually, that’s a lie — it’s only mildly spicy, and I wish it were a little bit hotter.  But the sandwich was so thoroughly satisfying that I only barely missed the spice.

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy'sLocation: 1520 Aimco Boulevard, Mississauga
Website: https://www.wendys.com/en-ca/home

The Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich from Wendy’s has pretty much everything I like in a fast food sandwich; it’s got gooey cheese (with both a melty cheese slice and cheese sauce), bacon, jalapenos, crispy fried onions, pickled jalapeno slices, and a smoky japaleno sauce.

So yeah, it’s good.  They’d have to work pretty hard to mess it up.

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's

The worst part about this chicken sandwich is, funnily enough, the chicken.  The sandwich features their Spicy Chicken patty, and they keep it in one of those warming drawers (AKA the fast food ruiner).

So it’s dry, of course.  It’s also a little bit too salty, and thoroughly infused with a vaguely unpleasant processed flavour.

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's

The toppings are so abundant, however, that it’s barely even an issue.  I only had one or two bites that weren’t crammed with stuff.

You’ve got the richness from the cheeses, crispiness from the fried onions, zestiness from the sauce, a nice meaty bite from the bacon, and a good amount of acidity from the jalapenos to help cut through the sandwich’s richness.  It’s quite tasty.

It also has a decent kick to it — it’s nothing too aggressive, but for something from a fast food joint, it’s not bad.

Delicious Fried Chicken at Union Chicken

Union ChickenLocation: 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://unionchicken.com/

The common refrain is that you should give a restaurant at least a few weeks before you pass judgment on it.  It often takes a little while for the kitchen to work out all the kinks.

Union Chicken is a perfect example of this.  Last year, I went there within a couple of weeks of its opening; it was absolutely, positively awful.  I tried a few things and they were all horrifically bad.

Union Chicken

In the meantime, I’ve heard basically nothing but good things, so I figured it was probably about time to give it another shot.  And it was night and day.  Everything was really, really good.

The Buffalo and blue cheese fried chicken sandwich was delicious.  It’s got everything you’re looking for in a fried chicken sandwich: that amazing exterior crunch, a juicy piece of chicken (the fact that it’s thigh instead of breast helps mightily in this regard), and a zingy sauce that makes it all sing.

Union Chicken

There’s something about the magical interplay between vinegary Buffalo sauce and creamy blue cheese dressing that just works, and Union Chicken only elevates that — the blue cheese dressing on the sandwich is seriously tasty, with a mild garlicky bite that sets it apart.

I had the baked beans on the side, and they were also well above average.  Sometimes baked beans can be a bit of a sweet overload, but these had a nice vinegary punch to round things out, and a decent amount of spice.  The texture was a bit soupy, but they were otherwise top-shelf beans.

That sandwich, though.  I was honestly surprised at how good it was.  It definitely belongs on a list of the best fried chicken in the city.