What is the size of two chubby fingers, varies in spiciness, and is often eaten during the Superbowl? Chicken wings!!
Love them or hate them, there is no denying that they are a staple food in the life of many — the comfort food that surpasses Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Whether you like them nose trickling hot, or you prefer them coated in sugary goodness, most pubs and restaurants will have something that suits your palate. While they vary in taste, they also vary in texture, quality, juiciness, flavour intensity, and general degree of love.
Although I am not notorious for being a chicken wing lover, opting for a juicy burger or onion rings as my pub food of choice, I’m forever keen on a challenge, especially when it involves unusual adaptations of a usual food item. Enter, Vancouver Foodster’s Chicken Wing Challenge. When Richard asked me to join him on a media tour to taste a few of them out, I jumped at the opportunity, not knowing what was in store.
Our first stop of the day was at Malone’s Bar and Grill, followed by Rogue Kitchen & Wet Bar, and Calabash Bistro. Thank goodness we were walking, because it enabled us to gobble up more chicken wings and indulge in a healthy dose of cocktails and beer.
MALONE’S BAR & GRILL @MalonesDrinkery
608 West Pender Street, Vancouver
Salted Caramel Waffle Wings with Zing ($11)
Chicken and waffles are all the rage these days, sprouting up at every other restaurant; so why not make chicken wings out of the artery clogging meal? Chef Rennie Chotalal of Malone’s decided to give it a try by taking buttermilk waffle battered chicken wings and tossing them in a spicy salted caramel sauce.
I loved these because they satisfied my sweet tooth and my salty tooth, while also throwing a little heat in to the picture.
They were crunchy, uber flavourful, and when eaten with a piece of waffle and a piece of caramel they tasted better than any chicken and waffles that I’ve had in town.
Huge points for creativity and presentation. Points deducted for pairing it with a grilled lemonade gin cocktail as I think it would’ve worked better with a beer. That said, the fact that it was free poured was pretty fantastic.
Would I order it again? Yes ma’am.
Paired with: Grilled Lemonade Gin Cocktail
Created by: Chef Rennie Chotalal @Chef_Rennie
ROGUE KITCHEN & WET BAR @roguewetbar
601 West Cordova Street, Vancouver
Kimchi Chicken Wings ($12.99)
I like Rogue because they have 20 craft beers on tap at their Downtown location and 30 at the Broadway location. I also like the fact that the tasting glasses that we drank out of had one letter on each, so that if you were really keen on it you could make friends with others and complete the set to spell ROGUE. At least that’s what I wanted to do.
Chef Cory Chapman loves cooking with craft beer as much as he likes drinking it, so it’s of no surprise that his chicken wing creation would incorporate the beverage. Since he also loves kimchi he fused the two to create a glaze for the chicken wings made from a kimchi puree reduced with honey, orange and wheat ale.
I was expecting spicy, so was slightly disappointed to discover that these chicken wings did not pack much heat at all.
I was further disappointed to discover that they used to be spicier, but due to a few customers’ requests they were tamed down, and unfortunately can not be made milder or hotter to order. I didn’t find them to be very flavorful, but appreciated the fact that they sous vide the chicken before deep-frying it, making them super moist and perfectly cooked.
Would I order it again? Probably not. But I’d go back for the beer.
Paired with: R & B Brewery Sun God
Created by: Chef Cory Chapman
CALABASH BISTRO @calabashbistro
428 Carrall Street, Vancouver
Calabash Wings ($11)
These were without a doubt the best of the three by consensus.
As it was the final stop, most people were stuffed but, like myself, still couldn’t help but eat the entire portion. The crispy batter wasn’t greasy and only left my fingers a mess because I doused them with the spicy tropical glaze that was offered as a dip. Did I mention that I like spice and crunch? The (free range) chicken was juicy from being marinated in their house made jerk and was evidently good quality from its overall firmness and flavour.
Would I order it again? Hell yeah. I’d order two.
Created by: Chef Cullin David
Paired with: Dark ‘N Stormy – also delicious, with shaved coconut, a touch of ginger ale for carbonation and heavy in fresh ginger. I had three. A refreshing pairing for the spicy wings.
For more high res photos check out my Chicken Wings Challenge set on Flickr.
Follow the challenge on Twitter: #ChickenWingsChallenge
The contest runs until June 9th and voting takes place from June 7th to 11th. For more information visit: http://vancouverfoodster.com/2013/05/14/vancouver-chicken-wings-challenge/