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Perfectly Fried Chicken
From Colombian Milanesa to Szechuan Là Zi Jī, this sizzling flock’s got serious pluck
Filipino: Pritong Manok
Filipinos like their chickens batter free, fried whole, and hacked up for serving with a side of tangy banana ketchup. Fiesta Sa Barrio bathes theirs in garlicky lemon juice before tossing them into roiling oil. Emerging like giant winged gribenes, the birds have a dramatic crunch. » 4326 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323-256-4380.
Was it the Germans or the Italians who inspired Latin America’s love for schnitzel-style cutlets? No matter —the version at Café Colombia is close to poultry perfection. The lime-marinated breasts are a half-inch thick, with a microthin batter that puffs as it crisps. » 222 S. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank.
Korean: Yangnyeom Tongdak
The Kyochon chain leads the crowded field in fried chicken-obsessed Seoul. Here, as there, it employs a nontraditional double-frying technique that yields explosively juicy flesh in a fat-rendered shell as deliciously brittle as a fresh croissant. The wings and drumsticks can be drenched in a sauce of your choice: hot sweet or soy-garlic. » 3833 W. 6th St., Koreatown, 213-739-9292.
Szechuan: là zi jī
At Chengdu Taste chicken chunks, sliced garlic, and whole Szechuan peppercorns are deep fried together until everything crackles. Pan-tossed with handfuls of tiny (but lethal!) red chilies, the popular off-menu dish called là zi jī delivers a searing, tingling jolt to the palate. (Tip: Don’t mistake this dish for #82, a stir-fry). » 828 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, 626-588-2284.
Honduran: Pollo Mesada Estillo Mercado
The bird has graduated from homey to haute at Honduras’ Kitchen. Artfully presented on fried plantains, flanked by bouquets of pickled vegetables and salsa, a golden, meaty leg reflects its Central American roots. Firm, juicy flesh lies within a crystalline crust, which we prefer without sauce. » 2409 E. Slauson Ave., Huntington Park, 323-582-9139.
Indonesian: Ayam Goring
Merry’s House of Chicken lives up to its name, offering hits from the archipelago’s avian repertoire. Ayam goring kremsan, a split game hen, rests beneath fried batter shrapnel. Ayam penyet, turmeric-seasoned thighs, are arranged in a stone mortar with chili sauce. » 2550 E. Amar Rd., Ste. A5, West Covina.