#GreatDebate: Who’s got the best fried chicken?


The other day a few of us were talking about KFC, the fast-food chain that specialized in fried chicken.

We noticed that many of the local restaurants, operated by Kazi Foods, were closing, namely the ones on Kapiolani and Dillingham boulevards, on Kapahulu Avenue and in Niu Valley.

The conversation centered around the Kapahulu location. It closed a few months ago and, in its place, will be Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, KFC’s fiercest rival.

I was sad to see KFC good. I’m partial to Col. Sanders’ secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. But others in the group protested, saying Popeyes, which was founded in New Orleans in 1972, was superior in taste and quality.

It was interesting what a lively debate it started — and all over fried chicken!

I took this debate to others and found that a lot of my friends have very strong opinions about fried chicken. Some swear by Zippy’s popular version, others are passionate about the one served at Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering in Waipahu. Some still love the fried chicken plate served at Rainbow Drive-In — which, by the way, takes 15 minutes to prepare, so you should order ahead.

Fried chicken isn’t really a staple food here, but versions of it — like mochiko, garlic and katsu-style — certainly are. So maybe there is room in Hawaii for this debate.

So I’m throwing it out there: who’s got the best fried chicken in Hawaii (and elsewhere)?

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24 Responses to “#GreatDebate: Who’s got the best fried chicken?”

  1. matt October 4, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    popeye’s is much better than kfc, imo.

  2. Jason October 4, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    KJ’s in Kaneohe has some great chicken. Call ahead because it’s not always available, or they need to cook a new batch.

    Elsewhere, you can’t go wrong with Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in LA.

  3. edw October 4, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    When I was much younger, KFC had great chicken mash potatoes and gravy but somewhere along the line after it was sold to PepsiCo and then whomever it seems to have lost it’s way. The original recipe chicken is still good but the gravy and mashed potatoes have gone way downhill.

    Now given a choice btw Popeye’s and KFC I’ll choose Popeye’s. The product is more consistent. and has a little better flavor.

    Here in Maryland there is any number of local restaurants that do fried chicken and most of them are better than both franchisees.

  4. Kimo October 4, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Ohhh so miss Pioneer Fried Chicken!

  5. Scott October 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I’m always down for Popeyes. It has better flavor and crunch. But KJ’s in Kaneohe is definitely worth mentioning as well.

  6. Stephanie Mah October 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I’m Singapore, I chose 4fingers over KFC .

  7. Dennis October 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    I love the chicken at Zippy’s but you can’t beat the Chicken Pot Pies at KFC. I had to order 15 minutes before picking the Pot Pies up. I miss the Kapolani KFC where they knew every Friday to reserve 2 Pot Pies for take out!

  8. 808Dad October 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Can’t beat Woolworth’s at Kahala Mall.

  9. M October 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Hello Cat!
    Fuud pixs Friday?
    I miss Chico’s Pizza Parlor fried chicken

  10. lena October 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Foodland Deli

  11. rayboyjr October 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Hey Cat: … if the debate is between KFC and Popeye’s … I prefer KFC … but I like Popeye’s too …

    … I look at it this way … there’s other places that serve a type of fried chicken that’s a little like Popeye’s … in flavor and crunch …

    … I don’t know another fried chicken that tastes even remotely like KFC … or with a battered coating that’s done the same way …

    … Popeye’s style chicken is not unique … the old Church’s fried chicken was similar, without the spicy flavor …

    … KFC stands alone …

  12. Bruddah Shaun October 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    The best is the one that just wen lose because da buggah is fresh.

  13. aaron porlas October 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    I think my dad makes killer fried chicken, then again i’m biased!

  14. Ed Oshiro October 5, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Pancakes and Waffles at the City Square Shopping Center has the best fried chicken.

  15. David Jackson October 5, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    I make the best fried chicken. Southerner. Born and raised. Any questions?

    • Bruddah Shaun October 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

      So you are from the Honolulu area?

      • David Jackson October 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

        Six years, now on mainland. Want to come home. and yes, Honolulu is the real south.

  16. mike hamada October 5, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    like one of the earlier responses it seems that KFC has changed their recipe as the taste and flavor just isn’t there anymore. my family and i live in Aiea but, drive out to Haleiwa to eat chicken at Paala Kai Market – great taste along with their prices.

  17. Eric October 5, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Disagree….Fried Chix has always been a staple in this Okinawan family. My Grandmother used to make great fried chicken for family get togethers cooked in a cast iron skillet.

    Best local chicken was the broasted kind like from the old Chico’s and Hana Chicken.

    The old Chicken Alice on Kapiolani was great too!

    Now days…probably Zips & Taniokas.

  18. Eric October 5, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    KFC vs. Popeyes….KFC original recipe hands down. I once had Popeyes that just oozed oil when you took a bite….Yuck!

  19. Cara October 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    MinitStop Maui Chicken – da bestest!!!

  20. A.T. October 7, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Here’s my list:
    1) Dirty Lickin’s Chicken (best hot wings ever, don’t forget garlic/blue cheese sauce)
    2) Bigway Burger broasted chicken (no mo any mo)
    3) Mililani Restaurant broasted chicken (no mo any mo)
    4) Byron’s broasted chicken (no mo any mo)
    5) Tankokas fried chicken (no forget the cone sushi)
    6) Popeye’s fried chicken (no forget the red beans and rice)
    7) Foodland fried chicken (cheap and convenient)

  21. guest October 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    KFC is good, I think the taste is better than Popeyes. Church’s Fried Chicken Stadium Mall circa 1980’s is the best. Today it just not as good in Pearlridge food court. Popeyes was better in the 80’s also, not so good today.

  22. lance October 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Tanioka’s. Melt in the mouth crispy skin boneless.

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