On the spur of the moment, AT and I decided to go on a fried chicken hunt in the East Bay. He had compiled a list of places to try and I was more than happy to join him on the expedition. Good fried chicken can be elusive in California as there is no Roscoe’s up here and the Hawaiian crack chicken Tadao used to frequent in Redondo Beach closed down a couple of years ago. In a pinch, KFC or Popeyes will do but sometimes, you need more than a bucket to satisfy the craving for seasoned, juicy meat and sinfully crispy skin.
The first stop was Jodie’s in Albany. The signs outside were bigger than the restaurant itself. It seats only 7 but the man himself had enough personality to fill a concert hall. The first thing he told us was that they were out of chicken and that we’re totally missing out. What???! You should have seen how crestfallen we were. They only have fried chicken on weekends and sell out well before 11am or so. Apparently, people can call first thing in the morning and reserve their fried chicken but knowing that would do our hungry bellies no good. Our prospects appeared to be as dark and gloomy as the sky itself. (Cue violin music)
Since we were too weak to continue without eating something, we decided to place ourselves at the counter and share a side of country hash and corned beef hash. Jodie soothed us with a small taste of freshly made grits, so creamy and buttery…wait, I can’t believe it’s not butter! They use the yellow stuff hawked by Fabio. Really they do and I guess the name is true to itself. I couldn’t taste the difference.
While we were waiting, we spied some fried chicken still being pulled out of the giant cauldron of oil but sadly, it seemed that these pieces of deep fried goodness were already claimed by some other hungry souls who had yet to arrive. As the chicken sat there mocking us, the skies cleared and the sun shone down upon us in that tiny little closet of a restaurant. There was one piece of unclaimed chicken left and we had no hesitation when it was offered to us. Hell yeah I want that chicken!
We tore into it like rabid hyenas. It was so delicious. The white meat was juicy and the spices in the batter were great. The outside was perfectly crisp and Jodie made a point of telling us that they removed the skin before frying. You couldn’t tell. I didn’t think I would miss the skin until I spied a piece of nicely fried skin still attached to one side and wow, it was good.
The next and final stop was Bake Sale Betty in Oakland for one of their crazy delicious fried chicken sandwiches. I was already familiar with Betty and her chicken, having made several pilgrimages there but it was a first for AT. Her chicken is soaked in buttermilk and then coated in a flour mixture that results in a juicy chicken with a thick, crunchy batter. What really makes the sandwich is her vinegar based coleslaw that adds jalapeño slices for an edgy kick that goes down pretty easy. The slaw marries well with the chicken and takes everything up a notch. The staff was really sweet to us and gave us one of their strawberry shortcakes so that took care of dessert. Neen met us there and picked up an egg salad sandwich to munch on. I’ve had those before and they are rightfully eggy.
We debated going back to Jodie’s tomorrow morning for some more fried chicken but after the chicken at Jodie’s and half a sandwich at Betty’s, I decided to bow out. As it stands, it’s been seven hours since I ate and I’m still not hungry. But this is not the last of the fried chicken hunt. The list is long and we have only just begun.