If we could only eat one dish for the rest of our lives, there's a good chance it'd be fried chicken. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and even better when accompanied by something saucy (especially if there's some spice involved), it's the feel-good food we never get tired of.
Once only the territory of KFC, now there's a myriad of options for this mouthwatering treat, taking inspo from Japan, Mexico, Korea and beyond. So grab the napkins and dig into some of this tasty goodness at one of the following restaurants, as chosen by you—finger licking 100% guaranteed.
Gochu's fried chicken game is strong, and we have chef Jason Kim to thank. Taking cues from his childhood in Seoul, he's created a version that combines succulent, bite-sized pieces of meat with an ultra-crunchy batter slathered in a vibrant, spicy sauce that will have you returning time and time again. Step things up a notch by ordering an even hotter version, though be warned, this one packs a serious punch, so you'll definitely want to have a bevvy or two on hand to cool your jets. Zi says Gochu have hit the nail on the head with fried chicken that's crispy, juicy, AND spicy.
Schapiro's Sports Bar
Schapiro's Sports Bar is one of our fave new watering holes and home to some of Auckland's absolute best fried chicken. Here it comes in the form of beautifully spiced, juicy chicken wings that can not, and will not, be limited to one serve (trust us, we've tried). Swanase describes it as fantastic, spicy, and yum.
Peach's Hot Chicken
Panmure & Food Truck
We're not kidding when we say that the fried chicken at Peach's Hot Chicken will change your life. Made in the authentic Nashville style from a recipe handed down by one of the owner's grandmothers, this epic interpretation is available in a range of spice levels, including the infamous Holy Cluck (which, we must warn you, is not for the faint-hearted). Let the flavours speak for themselves with a couple of pieces served simply alongside some white bread and pickles, or indulge in what has to be our fave dish here, the best-selling Baller Sandwich. Think crunchy, boneless fried chicken thigh crammed inside a soft brioche bun with coleslaw, cheese, pickles and lashings of aioli-style sauce. Chloe sums up their fried chicken in one word: unbeatable.
With a name like Winner Winner, it's no surprise that these guys are a contender for Auckland's best fried chicken. Once upon a time, we had to travel to Pukekohe to get our share of the goodness but now they have a store in Takapuna and we're beyond eggcited. Bought to us by the same team behind BurgerFuel, Winner Winner's famously delicious free-range fried chicken is brined for 12 hours, cooked in a lip-smacking buttermilk batter then served in one of three tasty options (The Basic, Hot Dipped or Proper Hot). Nat says the secret to Winner Winner's fried chicken is their outstanding sauce and pickles.
Britomart, Ellerslie, Ponsonby, Silverdale, Sylvia Park
The spot that's perhaps responsible for starting Auckland's fried chicken craze, Mexico's signature offering still tastes just as good after all these years. Little nuggets of spicy, golden goodness served with both jalapeño and chipotle mayo, this is the sole reason some people dine here. We hope this one never leaves the menu. Jen says Mexico's fried chicken is simply the best.
The Candy Shop
The Candy Shop favour the Korean style of fried chicken, which they've cheekily dubbed 'KFC'. Indeed, theirs is a far cry from that offered by the fast-food giant, but we certainly aren't complaining. Choose from the equally delish original with garlic soy dipping sauce, or spicy with tteokbboki (fried rice cakes). Yummm. Ben says you can take him to this candy shop any time you like.
My Fried Chicken
Mission Bay, Ponsonby, Takapuna
Fried chicken gets the Korean treatment at My Fried Chicken. We particularly like the Ponsonby Central store, where you can pull up a pew and watch as the chefs prepare their version of this much-loved treat, which comes in super mild, super spicy and everything in between. If you do happen to get a little hot under the collar, a can of Garage beer (of which there are a number of options available) should soon sort you out. Kate can't get enough of their fried chicken, telling us there are sooo many flavour options.
There's much to love about this funky spot on Ponsonby Road, not least it's fried chicken, which here goes by the name dak gang jeon. Once again taking the Korean route, Ockhee has two mouthwatering options for you to choose from—spicy soy and sesame glazed, or sweet chilli and roasted peanut glazed (now that's what we call Seoul food). Niki says the flavour of Ockhee's fried chicken is delicious and unbeatable.
CBD, Commercial Bay, Ellerslie, Takapuna
We know that bigger isn't always better, but when it comes to fried chicken, it certainly is. Lucky for us, there's a super-sized version of the dish being served up at Kai Eatery. Their signature, Taiwanese-style XL Fried Chicken is world-famous in Auckland, and for good reason. Think boneless, butterflied chicken breast bigger than your face with a juicy marinated inner and crispy, generously-coated outer; available in drool-worthy flavours like salt and pepper and peri peri. Jurz claims Kai Eatery has the most flavourful, tender chicken ever.
Lord of the Fries
CBD, Karangahape Road
Is it weird to feature a vegan restaurant in an article about fried chicken? Maybe, but we love the fact that there's a convincing alternative out there for the growing number of plant-based eaters. Yip, Lord of the Fries' version—made from soy protein—is about as close in looks and more importantly, taste, to legit fried chicken as you'll get (it even separates like the real deal).
We know we said 10, but we just couldn't leave these legends off the list...
Mission Bay, Ponsonby
Karaage chicken (aka Japanese fried chicken) is the business and Azabu makes some of Auckland's best. Cluck—er, tuck into this refreshing take on the fast-food classic which comes with pickled daikon, oregano or kale crisp and aji Amarillo mayo—oh, and did we mention it's also free-range?
Anything the Lowbrow. team touches turns to gold, including their fried chicken. Here it comes in the form of American-style wings, served alongside a creamy ranch sauce and some white bread—perfect for wiping up any precious juices that might try to escape. You can also get your fried chicken fix by way of a sando (burger), or even in a Caesar salad (yes, salad!).
Want to go the other way? Get something super healthy delivered right to your door.
Image credit: Gochu by Yuki Zhang, Peach's Hot Chicken by Wono Kim, Mexico, My Fried Chicken by Ponsonby Central, Kai Eatery.