Chocolate plus chicken? At the time of ChocoChicken’s recent soft opening in Downtown L.A., I didn’t really know what that would equal. What thoughts does one conjure up in their mind when they hear of chocolate and chicken, and not in the mole sense? Wonder no longer, because if you haven’t gotten a chance to try it for yourself, here’s what the ChocoChicken experience is like:
Walking in, you’re greeted and get seated at a table (or at the bar) in the expansive space right in the heart of downtown. The fork and knife sit criss-crossed on a napkin, and the menu, which is minimal and focused is presented to you. Here it is, in all its glory– food on left, drinks on right– since they haven’t posted the menu on their website yet (and possibly may modify it before the grand opening):
From there, I chose to order the chocolate breast piece combo, and chose the caramelized bacon biscuit and duck fat fries as my sides (of the two days I had visited, they didn’t have the white chocolate mashed potatoes nor the stuffed peppers available, morning nor evening… bummer).
As you can see below, there is a dusting of the ChocoChicken cocoa spice on the duck fat fries, which were quite rich and on the softer side (vs. crunchy). Although the chicken itself was a bit small for the price (the combo is $13), the sides are quite heavy and make it a hearty meal, at least for me. The chocolate ketchup that comes with the fries is also tasty, and tangier than you may expect. It really does taste like a thick ketchup with unsweetened chocolate melted into it! Other sauces include a habanero-honey sauce, a miso-ranch sauce, and a more traditional gravy.
The bacon biscuit had buttery layers, and these are especially known to have copious amounts of Paula Deen’s favorite ingredient to create the golden, uniquely moist interior. The bacon was not super noticeable, and if anything it was on the subtler side. I’d have loved to see a little more bacon in there, but it was still delicious, with a very slight sweetness. The honey butter it came with aso complemented the biscuit nicely.
On to the main event… the chocolate chicken! Although the name suggests that it would be quite sweet and chocolaty, the only hint of chocolate I got was from the deep cocoa flavor, and a very subtle sweetness. There are quite a few spices– 20, to be exact– in the crunchy coating, which add a nice depth of flavor to the chicken. The chicken itself is also super moist, as the Jidori chicken is brined for 36 hours. So, although I don’t think you’d immediately think of chocolate if you were to blindly taste it, it’s a craveable, unique and overall solid piece of chicken.
Although it makes sense once you taste ChocoChicken, to open such a seemingly outrageous concept with so much initial buzz takes guts… and Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman’s credibility definitely helps. Fleischman’s partner, Keith Previte, gave me a little sneak peek into what’s in store for ChocoChicken. They plan to stick to their signature protein, but will be expanding the ways that the flavors of chocolate and chicken play off one another. Additionally, Previte revealed that “during football season, ChocoChicken will open at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and we also plan to add seasonal drinks and food items to the menu.”
With TVs inside and an L.A. Kings flag waving just as the city’s NHL team was about to win the NHL Stanley Cup, it’s clear that they’re excited to reach a sports-loving audience with their casual concept.
With an innovative and solidly executed new concept, ChocoChicken represents what Tanaya’s Table stands for, in a sense. Taking seemingly eccentric flavor combinations and opening people’s minds to the harmonious possibilities that take the taste buds to another level. Taking something classic, like hearty comfort food, and elevating it to create something complex and unique is actually an art and a science. Which is a big part of why I personally love food, classic techniques and reinvention so much. Perhaps this is another step towards opening people’s minds to the positively unthinkable, in food and in life!