Piece of Chicken, New York City, New York

Living in Seattle my choice for fried chicken is a place called Ezell’s. Honestly, it’s not as good as everyone claims. The texture of the coating is nice and crunchy, but the non-spicy chicken I had there was essentially flavorless. The spicy was, well, spicy, but not much else.

But this week, I’m in Manhattan. My friend has been bugging me to try his favorite fried chicken place, but we haven’t stopped there yet. Instead, today we found ourselves outside Piece of Chicken in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Tucked down a sidestreet (W 45th between 8th and 9th). To her credit, Jenny spotted it out of the corner of her eye and said “let’s go”.

A large kitchen sits behind a rectangle cut into the wall. That’s where you order, that’s where you pay, that’s where you get your food. Where you eat is your problem. We chose to eat a few feet away on a stoop, ignoring the sign that disallowed us from sitting there. Luckily we didn’t get caught.

The menu is not small, but the star is of course the chicken. You can get a piece of fried chicken for a dollar. Yep. A dollar. Jenny being from the south ordered Chicken and Waffles for us. Despite how many places I’ve eaten I’m still really dumb about lots of culinary traditions. Southern food is no exception. I don’t know what I thought chicken and waffles would be. Maybe a drumstick wrapped in a waffle? (McDonalds I expect royalties if you follow through on that.) Nope. It’s exactly what it says, three pieces of golden fried chicken and four waffles (and two tubs of syrup).

Like many non-obvious food combinations, to me chicken and waffles is evidence of evolution at work. When you have diversity (lots of different food combinations), reproduction (lots of different restaurants making dishes over and over), and selection (customers going to restaurants they like) you get evolution. And I’m sure there were countless combinations tried, but chicken and waffles stuck. And it works.

The waffles had corn meal in them. They had sort of a rustic quality about them. And the fake maple syrup (a guilty pleasure of mine) was perfect on top. The chicken was super flavorful. We had white meat. To me, white meat is the true test of fried chicken. It’s not hard to make dark meat juicy. Unfortunately, here Piece of Chicken was a little more mixed. Of our three pieces, one was dry, one was juicy, and one was in the middle. In some cases the juicy factor was different in different bites of the same piece. I will say though that the savory flavorfulness of the crispy skin did a lot to compensate.

Juiciness inconsistency aside, we quite enjoyed Piece of Chicken. Maybe we’ll get to compare it to the Korean fried chicken place my friend raves about before the week is up.

9 Responses to “Piece of Chicken, New York City, New York”

  1. Paul G says:

    Stroud’s makes the most delicious fried chicken in America. It’s in Kansas City. It totally blew my mind into space. Now, sadly, all other fried chicken is a disappointment. Why is it sooo good?

  2. David W. Cowles says:

    I first had chicken and waffles at (now defunct) Well’s in Harlem back in the early 70s. I always thought that’s where the unlikely combination began.

    But Wickipedia has a slightly different take on the subject, going back as far as Thomas Jefferson. Check out this webpage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_and_waffles

  3. Erin says:

    For amazing fried chicken in Seattle visit the Kingfish Cafe. I have never had better there.
    Enjoy Manhattan and definitely check out the Korean fried chicken, you won’t regret it.

  4. chicken and waffles…unlikely but delicious.

    but check out the korean fried chicken for sure.

  5. Anita says:

    ooooh, why did you have to say “chicken and waffles”?

  6. jp 吉平 says:

    A few years ago, the best fried chicken in Seattle was at Quick Pack Food Mart; it was an African lady who has since passed away. The chicken there is still pretty good (better than Ezells) but a little overcooked, nowadays.

    A while ago, when Ezells was closed with fire damage, a Stranger food reviewer got so depressed, she went to Takohachi on Jackson and ordered karaage to get her fried chicken fix. Since then, I have been obsessed by Takohachi’s karaage… but of course now they’re gone too…

  7. jp 吉平 says:

    oh, sorry, Quick Pack Food Mart is at the corner of MLK and Jackson, and all they sell is chicken and drinks to go.

  8. hillel says:

    Thanks for all the great comments. Guess what, we went to Bonchon last night for Korean fried chicken. Writeup coming shortly. :)

  9. [...] from Piece of Chicken in Hell’s Kitchen that I’ve heard about from my friends at Tastingmenu and Midtownlunch. Took the trek there but no luck, no waffles. I had to do something. Ashley did [...]

Leave a Reply