14 August 2014
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken ~ Taiwanese - Sydney
It almost feels a little disappointing when something special you ate when you travelled overseas becomes available locally. One of the best things about travel is eating and drinking things that are unique to that place, and the memory you take with you of tasting, smelling and drinking something different, unobtainable, exclusive even.
With the opening of Hot Star Large Fried Chicken in Australia, now you don't need to go to Taiwan to try this night market favourite. We tried it on our trip to Taiwan at the Shilin Night Market and loved it, but we waited a little while before we needed to try it again here in Sydney.
There's only a brief queue before ordering at this street fronted shop. When your order is placed at the counter you are given a number and a plastic bag, so when your order is ready it can be placed inside quickly and off you go on your way.
It's shorter than the queue at the original at Taiwan's Shilin Night Market and far less entertaining. Workers inside looked at their phones instead of frying up chicken, others just looked bored. Here's how hard they work in Taiwan, we made this little Street Food film while we waited in line:
Watch how the dude with the moustache preps the flattened chook pieces in a red marinade and coats them, then the guys next to him fries them up in batches. They are spiced and parcelled out according to how many plastic bags you have.
And the comparison? They seem as big as the original, which is pretty big. It's a lot of fried batter to chow through, and there are bones in the piece of chicken so watch out if you are biting in expecting flesh only. The original doesn't have much spice on it, not even a little plum powder. But it's a big piece of chook for $7.90.
There are only two main flavours on offer at the Sydney store, original or spicy. Occasionally they have a special (BBQ Lemon was on at the time of posting).
If you are looking for spice then order some of the sides as 'chilli'. These red hot looking numbers are fried mushrooms ($4.90 for a serve). The chilli is hot and takes away from the flavour of the mushrooms, which are nice and moist inside. I'd keep these plain and get some chilli on the curly fries instead. It's also quite a small serve for the price.
Sweet potato fries, $3.90. The fries aren't super crispy, but they do have a nice sweetness from the sweet potato. The addition of a sprinkle of plum powder heightens the flavour. Again, its not as big a serve as a bucket of hot potato chips, but there is a big flavour.
Chicken bites, $5.90. Smaller bits of moist chicken in the same coating, a good option if you want a smaller serve of chicken. The crips-ish bits of basil included in with the fried chook bits is a tasty touch, a flavour we encountered in a few dishes in Taiwan. Beware the seagulls in the Courthouse park next door, they have a liking for a bit of chook.
Don't worry if you can't eat a whole piece, eat what you can and take the rest home in the handy plastic bag. We think it tastes especially good the next day, kinda like next day cold KFC tastes good when you know it shouldn't.
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken is at 96 Liverpool Street Sydney, opposite World Square. They appear to have lost their 'g' at the moment.