Golden hot, often saucy and with the potential to make you very sweaty, there’s something absolutely appropriate about eating fried chicken in Brisbane. Besides, the Queensland capital attracts all-kinds, from Korean students to North American ex-pats, so rest assured there’s a rub for every occasion. Here are ten of the very best exponents.
Jacob Knauth’s hero is American dude food doyen David Chang, which should give you an idea of what he’s aiming for with Lucky Egg. Knauth serves up crisp-fried, free range chicken from a tiny shipping container in Fortitude Valley. Fair warning: the entertainment precinct gets rambunctious on a Saturday night, but it’s worth braving the crowds to wolf down a Lucky Egg Buffalo Crispy burger with American cheddar, garlic pickles and spinach.
322 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Phillip and Michael Tan drew upon years of experience in Brisbane’s food scene to last year create KaiKai, an unlimited Korean, American and South East Asian-style fried chicken joint in bucolic St Lucia. Located just a stone’s throw away from the University of Queensland, dinner here means you’ll have a never-ending supply of students for company. They come for bottomless dirty fries and never-ending pasta but most of all the chicken: giant baskets of crisp-fried wings and tenders served with a selection of exotic mayonnaises and hot sauces.
1/225 Hawken Drive, St Lucia; 0490 793 890
King of the Wings
You need to work to catch King of the Wings. This award-winning fried chicken operation doesn’t have a bricks and mortar, instead popping up around the city at different bars and market events. Wherever you find it, be prepared for chicken cooked one of four ways. The buffalo wings earned the official plaudits but for our money the dry rub southern fried recipe is best — just like the Colonel’s but lighter, crispier and with a touch more spice.
Various locations; 0433 177 478
It’s a 20 minute drive out of the city but Seoul Bistro has nevertheless become a south-side destination for Korean fried chicken. It means this small corner eatery is always lively, students and ex-pats piling in to sink cheap beer and order unlimited buffets of wings. The chicken comes a number of ways but, understandably, it’s the Korean style that’s most popular — lightly fried, the wings are crispy, succulent and delivered with your choice of seven different sauces.
2/152 Turton Street; (07) 3345 6360
Best known for its never-ending rotation of independent beers, Tippler’s Tap also peddles some of the best dude food in town. The Reubens and burgers are good, but it’s Tippler’s wings that are a favourite with regulars, a light, dry, spice-rubbed treatment offsetting the heavy brews it serves from its neat little bar. Sharing a basket with a couple of pints and a side of blue cheese sauce is a favourite afternoon pastime for South Bank hipsters.
5/182 Grey Street, South Bank
Bird’s Nest Yakitori
Busy, buzzy Bird’s Nest is best known for its fabulous yakitori, but away from the skewers this West End restaurant also does terrific karaage chicken. Think free-range thigh meat fried crispy and golden with traditional seasoning and finished with wasabi mayonnaise. Mix it up with some skewers or sides of kyabetsu and wombok salad, all washed down with imported Japanese beer and sake.
5/220 Melbourne Street South Brisbane; (07) 3844 4306
The Coop Bistro
To be Brisbane’s best chicken pub. That was the unvarnished intent of The Coop Bistro when it opened in a subterranean space in Fortitude Valley in the middle of 2017. It’s not messing around either: you can take your bird as drumsticks, tenders, breast, burgers, schnitzels, parmigianas or even popcorn chicken. Regardless of your choice, the use of tapioca flour gives the meat a light, crispy and very satisfying crunch.
388 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3172 6109
MoMo Chicken City
MoMo opened its doors on Albert Street in the city early last year and has been overflowing with office types and international students ever since. They come for ten different types of fried chicken, including boneless sets, cutlets and a very spicy “fire chicken” (you’ve been warned). Each is served with spiral potato chips, although you’d be wise to order a salad to help offset the gigantic portions.
87 Albert Street, Brisbane; 07 3012 8238
Yard Bird Ale House
Besides its sunny, warm, brick-lined courtyard and rotating roster of craft beers, Yard Bird is best known for its wings, served in a variety of styles. Original buffalo tends to get most of the attention but a southern-styled fried version is just as good — a well-balanced dry rub producing a bird that’s mild, crispy and crunchy and a perfect accompaniment to a schooner of Four Pines or Monteith’s. There are Yard Bird restaurants in Paddington and Stones Corner if you feel like venturing further from the city.
6/24 Martin Street, Fortitude Valley; 07 3852 6413
4Fingers Crispy Chicken
If you’ve spent any time in Singapore you’re likely familiar with 4Fingers, this fried-chicken chain last year landing its Korean-style bird on Albert Street in Brisbane’s CBD. The international students who live in the area regularly pack out its tiny shopfront, snacking on boxes of crispy chicken finished with either soy garlic or hot and spicy sauce. The antibiotic and hormone free bird is delivered daily, with sauces coming from a family-owned company on Penang Island in Malaysia.
108 Albert Street, Brisbane City
Detour doesn’t actually serve fried chicken. Not quite. Instead chef Damon Amos has invented Kentucky Fried Duck, a meal inspired by his mother, who refused to buy him KFC when he was a boy and would fry off some duck instead. Now KFD is one of the signature dishes in Amos’ slick, brass-lined Woolloongabba restaurant, two tender slabs of duck cooked crisp and served with jalapeño cornbread and sour cream. If you’re in Brisbane and into fried bird, it’s essential.
6/11 Logan Road, Woolloongabba; (07) 3217 4880
Top image: The Coop Bistro