Lip Smacking Good Fried Chicken
Nice Details at Juke
Not all restaurants begin their life running fast. Sometimes it’s a cringe worthy wobbly mess of a start. Eateries that survive and eventually thrive, figure it out and rapidly improve.
When I first visited Chinatown’s Juke, I was fairly disappointed. The fried chicken was not good. However, they had just opened, and there was something about the flavour of the ribs I really enjoyed. I made notes, filed them away, and decided to return later to see if there was positive progression.
Three months later, I picked up some take out from Juke. I was willing to give the food a fair bit of leeway because it took a convoluted journey to my dinner plate. The staff handed me my paper bag filled with a Juke Box and fried chicken sandwich, and I proceed to take it on:
- a 30 minute errand in Pacific Centre
- a 45 minute bus ride back to Burnaby
- and finally it sat 60 minutes on my kitchen counter as I fed and walked my pug, and put in a load of laundry.
Given the lengthy delay, I wasn’t expecting much. Remarkably, the food held up well, and blew me away (although it had become room temperature). There was such a massive improvement in comparison to what I sampled in the summer.
The slaw in the chicken sandwich was the difference maker. The bun and crunch coated white meat were fine but the slaw elevates Juke’s offering. The slaw was creamy, an had an unique curry-ish flavour that was complimented with tangy dill. The use of dill was so smart. It added a freshness and tart element that balanced out the sammy’s heavy components.
The Juke Box is a great way to sample the menu as it comes with ribs, a side of your choice, and the gluten free chicken.
I’m not a rib expert but I enjoyed what I tasted. The ribs have a nice bark on the outside, with tender meat on the interior. The flavour of this pork offering reminded me of Chinese Black Vinegar that my family uses to prepare food to welcome a new baby.
I’ve always liked the complex and potent flavour of the inky vinegar so when I come across a dish that uses it, I’m a happy camper. I’m not saying Juke is using it but the ingredients they are using have coalesced into something very similar tasting. Yum in my books.
Kale is not a dainty green, and it needs to be paired with bold flavours. I think Juke do that well with their Kale salad. The use of the fragrant and nutty sesame was a good match for the tough green. I also liked the cubes of vegetable – it reminded me of Korean Mu. This side was solid.
In the summer, Juke’s fried chicken was bland, not juicy and simply not soul satisfying. Good fried chicken isn’t complicated.
It should crunch with each bite – with the sound reverberating in your ears. Each chew should release liquid fat and umami rich juice. Each piece should be seasoned, sometimes salt is just enough, so that it accentuates the savoury nature of the meat.
After consuming the last morsel, one should have a smile spread across one’s face and the urge to lick the juice and grease that have glossed your lips. That’s what enjoyable, comforting, and sublime fried chicken should be.
The improved version of Juke’s chicken I got in the autumn, checked off all the above boxes for me. The positive changes to the chicken were remarkable. I was really surprised the meat was still moist after sitting for about 2 hours before I was able to sit down for dinner.
It seems the folks at Juke are listening to their customers and tweaking their food to please the masses. After my take out experience, I’m eager to return to Juke to dine in so I can have their food piping hot.
182 Keefer Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 3B3
604 336 5853