The Best Fried Chicken in the World
So before I dive into the deats of this place, I want to tell you a story about my childhood and why I connect with fried chicken so much. When I was younger, my grandmother from Taipei would visit almost every year during the summer for at least a month or two each time. She helped my mother out by taking care of us, cleaning the house, and making us the most delicious home cooked dinners we’ve ever had. One of my favorite things that she made was fried chicken. It was always a drumstick, perfectly fried in a wok. Never undercooked, never overcooked. If you ever tell my grandmother that you love one of her dishes, she will never forget it and she will make that dish for you EVERY single time she sees you. She had more love in her heart and soul than any other person I knew (tears will always well up in my eyes when I think of her). To this day, I haven’t found anyone that cooked fried chicken better than her, let alone even close - until I visited Kushiro, Hokkaido.
Finding the restaurant was especially fun. Tucked away in a small alley lies a wooden sliding door with a navy blue curtain, displaying the japanese characters name of the restaurant, Toriyoshi. There are MANY reasons to visit Hokkaido and if you love fresh fish and fried chicken, you MUST visit.
You walk in and there is a bar, like a sushi bar, with only 6 or so seats. It seems that they have added a small section next to it that can seat two tables of four. Behind the bar were two men, father and son. The son was cooking and the father was socializing, taking care of orders and passing beers over the bar. So what makes this fried chicken so good? It's in the marinade and the batter itself. Little tid bit; in Japanese, fried chicken is karage but in Hokkaido, it's zangi. Unlike regular American fried chicken, this is marinated in soy sauce, sake, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, honey, and garlic - it all comes together in this perfect balance of sweet, salty, acidity, and earthiness. Secondly, the batter has a higher starch content. This causes the batter to build these ridges when it's frying, essentially creating pockets, bursting with flavor.
Their menu only offers Zangi Fried Chicken. You have the choice of fried boneless white meat chicken, fried boneless dark meat chicken, and fried chicken quarter. Get. Them. All. We ordered two rounds of the boneless meat and I absolutely regret not ordering the chicken quarter. With my health problems, eating fried chicken in large quantities is the last thing I need but here I am, months later, still regretting it.
It’s not easy or cheap getting to Kushiro, Hokkaido, but gosh darn it, I’m going back someday. Let me know if you want to come.