Hot Star is possibly one of the most flocked to fast food joints in Taipei. It started in Taipei’s famous Shilin night market serving Taiwanese fried chicken steak which is one of the better “junk foods” on the planet.
As mentioned in a previous blog, fried chicken steak or XXL chicken, is a flattened chicken breast coated in a mixture of tapioca flour and spices and then deep-fried. I have read that Hot Star in Australia uses locally-sourced chickens with all of its other ingredients (like flour and spices) imported from Taiwan in order to replicate the flavours of its famous product sold in Taiwan.
I didn’t want to venture to Sydney’s Hot Star alone so I enlisted The Apprentice to make the sojourn with me for lunch. The Apprentice knows his fried chicken. He used to live on the American friend chicken stuff so much so that he was once the splitting image of Meatloaf. After some hard yakka (and cold turkey resisting The Colonel’s eerie smile), he now has the figure of Leonardo. Dragging him along took some coaxing because he thought that one whiff may lead to a fried chicken bender where there would be no escape.
Sydney’s Hot Star Chicken is set in a small street front space with just enough room for staff to cook, season and bag, and when we arrived at its Liverpool Street store there was already a queue along the street. The menu features the Large Fried Chicken ($7.90) but also some sides (for smaller appetites who don’t want to go XXL or those who want to really increase their cholesterol levels and have then as an accompaniment). These sides are curly fries ($3.90); chicken bites ($5.90); fried sweet potato ($3.90) and fried mushrooms ($4.90). You can get a XXL chicken and a soft drink combo for $9.90.
I ordered the large fried chicken (spicy) while The Apprentice ordered a combo – a drink and a large fried chicken (original flavour). Within about five minutes our numbers were called and the flattened 250g chook breasts were put into a paper bag and then placed in a carry bag for us to take away.
The Apprentice went into a cold sweat as soon as he saw the enormity of the task he was to undertake – I forgot to tell him that Hot Star Chicken is about the size of your face (it’s at least 30cm long). He attempted it and left half. I, on the other hand, managed to get through mine (just). It was true to form – the batter was crispy and well seasoned and succulent and juicy inside. The spicy powder gave it a good hit – but I think I prefer having the original as the chilli can be a bit overwhelming when indulging in such a large piece of fried chicken. It would be ideal if you could get a half and half.
So, was it true to Taiwanese form? Yes, it brought back memories of the original experience at Shilin, but after such a feat I will need to wait at least six months for my cholesterol to lower before undertaking the task again (or sooner if I take up weigh-lifting and need a protein boost). As for The Apprentice, he has just got out of rehab.
The verdict: The Apprentice can’t believe Taiwanese don’t have physiques of Samoan rugby players. I’m happy to see yet another Taiwanese favourite come to Australia.
What: Hot Star Chicken, 6 Liverpool St, Sydney NSW 2000. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11am to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11am to midnight. www.hotstarchicken.com.au/
Ate there: April 2014.