KJ’s (fried) Furikake Chicken
Upon reading a local discussion board on the “Best Fried Chicken”, several folks highly recommended KJ’s Local Grindz in Kaneohe.
First let me come clear and say, I’m not a huge chicken fan. But like the next guy, I’m always game for a great piece of golden, tasty breasts and thighs when the mood arises.
Well, yesterday I just so happened to run a business errand in Kaneohe, so while there, I made it a point to check KJ’s out.
Reinforcing what everyone was raving about, the young man working the front counter also recommended the “standard” fried chicken and the Furikake Chicken as their most popular items.
Done. order up 2 plates of that, to go
Now let’s see what we’ve got.
Diner “E” ordered a plate of straight Furikake Chicken, which ran $6.99, and here’s what he got…
And I ordered a mix of their signature Fried Chicken and Furikake Chicken combo plate…
Diner “A” also ordered several pieces of the same two types of fried chicken, Ala Carte.
So. The first thing to expect upon first bite is an outstanding batter, right? Neh. No big deal.
First let’s have a close inspection of their “standard” fried chicken…
This thigh has the bone-in. The meat was tender and cooked through, but the outer part was just borderline dry; not dry, but one more reheat and it will be. Most importantly, the batter just wasn’t anything special. As far as I could tell, this could have been “Shake ‘N Bake” if given a blind taste test. There was perhaps a slight hint of Paprika, but otherwise just salt and pepper in there. The crunch factor was slightly flaky, slightly glutenous. I really think it’s just flour with a few simple seasonings.
Now let’s move on and take a close inspection of the (fried) Furikake Chicken…
Notice this is basically chicken katsu. It’s bonless pieces, cut into strips and coated with panko. Then from here it gets a bit interesting. After they fry it, it’s dipped into a slightly thick, slightly sweet teriyaki sauce that has a strong garlic accent and also sesame oil and sesame seeds.
The “Furikake” is the part that disappoints me. I really was expecting some interesting batter that had the Furikake mixed in it. But in reality, all they do is sprinkle Furikake over the fried chicken after it’s done. What the? I can do that! Shoots, next time I go order a chicken katsu plate at anytown L&L, I can do that! And that doesn’t really do much to validate the name “Furikake Chicken”. This really is more a type of Karaage Chicken that just so happens to have Furikake sprinkled on top.
Aside of that, we all unanimously preferred the “Furikake” over their “standard” fried chicken. Still, even that wasn’t “all that”.
Now I did confess that 15 minute detour, which may have eaten some time out of the “fresh crispness” of these plates. But this isn’t any excuse. I can eat KFC chicken (when it has meat on it) a day or two later and it still rocks.
When you order a plate at KJ’s, they offer either “Mac” salad (that’s what the guy said), or you can opt for steamed corn (kernels; not on-the-cob) or grean beans. I ordered “Mac”…
Mac? No way! That’s Spaghetti noodles! And there’s Tuna in it. Bleck! To top that off, they didn’t put enough salt in it, and it was bland as heck. I don’t even think they use Best Foods Mayo’, but probalby some generic warehouse brand. Not to fear, I drizzled a little olive oil and hawaiian salt on it and it was A-OK! Ah, nothing like doctoring what’s broken.
And of course the plate lunch standard of 2 scoops rice. Which to me is kind of a shortcoming as well. Personally, when I eat fried chicken, I prefer it with mashed potatoes and gravy, southern style. Plain steamed white rice just doesn’t work.
But rice can be a good thing with the Furikake Chicken. If you scroll back up and look at the first picture, you’ll notice the presence of sauce on the plate that dripped from from the Furikake Chicken. I would highly recommend if you go to KJ’s to ask them to put some of that sauce on your rice. That was essentially was the best part about it.
So that’s that. Diner “A” gave the Furikake Chicken a 3-SPAM rating , while giving their standard fried chicken a 1. Diner “E” gave the Furikake Chicken a 2. I’ll go on the average of those scores with a 2.
Part of their name IS “local grindz”, and with that, check out the rest of their menu…
Establishment-wise, they’re your typical hole-in-the-wall plate lunch stand, dominated by a utilitarian service counter, surrounded by about 8 dining tables and multiple chairs…
KJ’s is located on the backside (east) of Windward City Shopping Center in Kaneohe, in the same area where Long’s Drug’s is…
Adjacent to Genki Sushi, Taco Del Mar and Pizza Hut.
I’m not saying KJ’s fried chicken was bad, but it wasn’t outstanding either as others claimed it to be. If they’re open to suggestions, I’d highly recommend adding mashed potatoes and brown gravy (or white gravy!) as an option for their standard fried chicken. That would totally enhance the eating experience of that chicken. Doesn’t have to be “from scratch”. Even the packaged (just add water) stuff would work. But offer it. Local plate lunch places sometimes need think outside the “2 scoops rice and mac’ salad” box sometimes. Especially here.
If I lived in the area, I’d go back and try some of the other “local grindz” on the menu, such as that “Stuf’ Cabbage”. Now that sounds good right about now!
KJ’s Local Grindz
Windward City Shopping Center
The Tasty Island Rating:
(2) I’m glad I tried it.