In spite of being fairly frequent visitors to the Asian continent, Alissa and I have never tried Hot Star's famous Large Fried Chicken. There are branches of this famous Taiwanese chain in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, however limited time or the call of something else exciting has always meant that while we've been aware of Hot Star as a dining option, the stars have never aligned for us to visit one of their establishments overseas - or even over east for that matter. Given Perth's booming dining scene, we should have known it was only a matter of time before Hot Star would come to us. Opening in June this year, a lot of holidays and a busy work schedule delayed our visit to this fried chicken mecca, however a catch up with our friends Jason and Verity served as perfect excuse to finally dine at the Barrack St branch of this famous chain.
Having opened in June, the largely takeaway outlet must have put up with a lot of noise in the ensuing months thanks to the roadworks on Barrack St and the renovation of the State Buildings, however it had definitely paid off by the time of our visit in December - the street looked significantly revitalised, and while the State Buildings definitely cater for a more upmarket crowd, the flow on effect of the redevelopment can definitely be felt along Barrack St, with Hot Star filling a niche in this resurgent street.
Hot Star's Menu and setup is simple - a few variations on chicken and a few variations on chips, all cooked with a deep fryer, with a dusting of chilli spice and some sauces for variation.
Alissa, Verity and I all ordered the Original Large Fried Chicken. They are not kidding about the size - these things are huge, so large that it seemed like they either butchered two breasts in a way to create a massive plane of meat, or that the chickens used must be particularly massive. The outer crust was super crunchy, with beads of what seemed like puffed rice working well to ensure maximum audibility. The flavour was slightly sweet, with the spiciness preventing the sweetness from being overpowering. I liked the chilli spice and being able to customise the level to suit individual palates, however I would probably order the Extra Spicy next time given that the Spicy was itself fairly mild for my tastes. Finally, the breast meat within was juicy and succulent, adding up to a deliciously savoury serve of fried chicken that was thankfully not overly oily either. This was incredible filling, and is a substantial meal on it own.
Jason ordered the Fried Chicken Wings instead. Rather than the breaded crust of the Large Fried Chicken, the Wings had a more batter-like exterior that seemed flavoured with a different spice mix combo. The exterior was nevertheless very crispy, with the meat within similarly succulent and juicy. The smaller serve was less filling than the Large Fried Chicken, but is probably a more sensible quantity to eat with one of their sides.
My favourite of the two sides we tried were the Curly Fries. These were well fried to crunchy perfection, and they stay that way all the way to the last one - a big plus in my book. The only issue we had was the way they served the Spicy Mayo Sauce as it was squirted into the bag on top of the Fries. The result was the top layer was all well sauced while those buried within were not. This messy process could be improved with a bit of sauce on the side to dip into. Additionally, we all felt the Spicy Mayo could have been spicier, and it made us wonder if the overall spice levels were made milder for a western audience.
Alissa loves Sweet Potato Chips, and just had to try Hot Star's take. As is to be expected, the Sweet Potato Chips were nice and sweet, however its not always a given that they will be crispy. Thankfully these chips featured a crispy batter on the outside to give it some much needed crunch. Jason had also ordered the Sweet Potato Chips, and he and Alissa agreed that they could have used a bit more salt to counterbalanced the sweetness, with Alissa suggesting a sauce might also have taken it to the next level.
The Verdict: Very Good
Alissa and I were glad to have finally tried Hot Star's Large Fried Chicken. It certainly lived up to its name, being a very filling serve of Fried Chicken that was delicious and reasonably priced. Their Chicken Wings and sides were also very tasty, with all well deep fried for crispy perfection. Although the Large Fried Chicken may not be the absolute best Fried Chicken I've ever eaten (I prefer Korean Fried Chicken for instance), we could still see why Hot Star is a successful international brand. Definitely a recommended cheap eat.