Fried chicken fans stop everything you’re doing IMMEDIATELY and get down to Kai Eatery. With its new digs set up in the CBD, just a hop, skip and a jump from Queen Street, there’s no missing out on the flavoursome adventure that is a legendary night market favourite.
“We missed Taiwanese fried chicken so much we decided to bring it to New Zealand ourselves,” says owner and founder Allen Yeh. “While we are an Asian fusion eatery, we’re careful to keep authenticity, which I think has attributed to a lot of our success so far.”
And, Allen was pretty much destined to be the king of fried chicken from the start—his Chinese name happens to be Kai, which means ‘be happy’, which links up perfectly with the Maori meaning ‘to eat’.
So, starting off at the Pakuranga and Glenfield Auckland night markets, Kai soon proved to be a stunning success. And, due to overwhelming demand, they have just set up their very own permanent venue. It’s easy to spot their new digs—just look for the bright orange container, or simply follow the sweet sweet smell of that fresh Taiwanese fried chicken.
And, trust us, you won’t know what to do with yourself after you get a taste of Kai’s signature XL Chicken.
“It’s as big as your face,” laughs Allen. And boy, he is not kidding!
It’s a big call—but we’re pretty sure we’ve found the Beyonce of fried chicken. One bite into the thick golden secret recipe coating and you can understand what all the fuss is about. Every bite is as juicy and fresh as the last. Accompanied by a holy trio of optional seasonings: original—for those wanting to stick to the basics, spicy—if you’re wanting to heat things up, and the chef’s special—a delicate blend of sweet and sour that is guaranteed to touch your foodie soul. They only add more flavour out of the already drool-worthy fried chicken.
Speaking of crunchy, Kai gives the humble kumara fry the facelift we didn’t know it needed. With quality sweet creamy kumara covered in an extra crispy batter topped off with magical signature seasonings, it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about!
Also, they also offer crowd favourite steamed buns, our pick from the Gua Bao range would have to be the Heihei which features crunchy chicken, daikon, cucumber, cabbage and chipotle mayo. This isn’t even to mention their heavenly dessert—Choconana steamed bun, every bit as sweet as the awesome team!
Why stop at just the eats? Kai also serve up fresh hot coffee, the perfect morning stop. They only use premium beans roasted in small batches so you know you're onto a good thing. For those on the go or just looking to chill out, grab a house-made specialty soda, our pick would be the refreshing grapefruit, cucumber and mint—with just the right amount of bubbles and lick-lipping flavour, it’s sure to put a spring in your step!
A game changer for the Auckland foodie scene, Kai Eatery offers flavours you won’t find any where else and, once you get a taste, you’ll find yourself counting down to kai time.
Image credit: Jaiden Bhaga