So so versatile,
Chicken done many ways but
Freebird doesn’t soar.
Chicken is omnipresent in the world’s cuisines. One probably could devote a blog to just poultry dishes and never worry about running out of things to write about.
My favourites preparations are any variation of Asian white cut/poached and deep-fried. I like the white cut style because it’s all about the natural flavour and tenderness of the bird. Deep fry’s selling points are its crunch, seasoning and juiciness.
Freebird, in the upcoming area of New Westminster, offers both on their menu, which is devoted to chicken with an Asian flare.
I tried the small/regular order of Khao Man Gai “Hai Nan” first. This essentially is the Thai version of Hainanese chicken, which is why it came with the traditional sides of chicken rice, pickled vegetables and chicken soup.
My plate of poached chicken had both boneless white and dark meat. Overall the meat was tender and slightly juicy. However there was an odd dispersion of salt in the white meat. It was too salty on one side of the slice but the seasoning was just right on the other side. Due to the uneven salting, I preferred the more flavourful dark meat that was hidden under the mound of white meat.
The sides for this plate were pretty good. The chicken rice was infused with savouriness from the poaching liquid. The soup had depth and umami. The pickled jicama was a nice crunchy change from the usual daikon.
I thought the portion of food given was fair. The Khao Man Gai was good but not the best given the salt issue.
My second visit was more disappointing. Given my preferences, it should come as no surprise I went with the small/regular turmeric fried chicken plate. The chicken was served in the form of two thin cutlet of white meat that had been marinated with turmeric.
One could see the tell tale yellow colour of the spice ringed around the meat. However, I thought the meat to batter ratio was off. Some bites of one cutlet were just the crunchy batter. Compounding the problem was the schnitzel like chicken may have been left in the deep fry for too long. Where there was meat, it didn’t yield any juice to counter the dry crunch.
The curry that came with the plate was not great either. It was greasy, and primarily tasted like coconut milk. I’m not sure what the garlic chips were there for either. The curry was missing aromatics and varying pops of flavour.
This was just poor execution as curry and deep-fried foods works; for example, Japan’s CocoCurry chain is all about curry and deep fry, and it’s delicious.
Normally this plate comes with roti but they had run out and I was offered their chicken rice instead. I was a little relieved I got the more neutral rice. With the heavy chicken and the greasy curry, I’m not sure if I could have handled a flaky roti. The same pickled vegetables from the Khao Man Gai plate are given with the fried chicken but they weren’t enough to offset the heaviness of the food.
After two visits, I’m very blasé about Freebird. I do wonder if the rotisserie chicken is the winner on the menu. However based on my previous experiences, I’m not willing to specifically trek out to the eatery to find out.
Freebird Chicken Shack
810 Quayside Dr
New Westminster, BC V3M 6B9
Telephone: (604) 553-1382