Everything You Need to Know About Asian Fried Chicken

Nobody does fried chicken like America but the technique of frying chicken in fat is said to have been of Scottish origin. The first recorded fried chicken recipe was in a British cookbook titled “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” published in 1747, where you fried a floured chicken in hog’s lard. Prior to WWII, fried chicken was viewed as a “luxury dish” due to the large amount of oil required and the cost of chicken.

With war and colonization, fried chicken made its way into Asia. In fact, the origins of fried chicken in countries such as the Philippines and South Korea came by way of U.S. troops who would not be able to find a turkey for occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas while overseas and substituted it with fried chicken.

Sugarkane (Toronto, ON)

Filipino fried chicken is said to have originated in Quezon City (now Metro Manila) in the post-war 40s when a man by the name of Maximo Gimenez and his niece Ruby served American soldiers a batterless fried chicken recipe marinated in a fish-sauce base. That man is the founder of Max’s Restaurant, a global chain with restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, North America and Australia.

In Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken makes about ⅓ of its annual sales between December 23rd to 25th due to a clever marketing campaign back in the 70s which portrayed fried chicken as a staple of Western Christmas. But as the Japanese do best – taking an original idea and improving upon it led to karaage (popcorn chicken) and katsu (akin to schnitzel).

Taiwanese fried chicken (also called salt and pepper chicken) is also connected with the Colonel. It is said to have originated in Tainan City in the 70s when the couple was selling a “KFC-style fried chicken.” But seeing how it was difficult to eat full-sized pieces of fried chicken, the Yeh’s decided to downsize into smaller pieces and coat them in sweet potato flour before frying topped with pepper, salt and chilli powder for an extra kick. These days it is commonly topped with fried basil for added flavour. They were originally served with thin bamboo sticks (similar to toothpicks) which made them a better grab-and-go option. As Taiwan was under Japanese rule, their fried chicken formats are similar (popcorn and cutlet) though with different batters and seasoning. Taiwan is also known for its giant fried chicken steaks which are seasoned with white pepper, sugar, salt and five-spice powder.

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With western-style rotisserie chicken rising in popularity in the ‘60s and ’70s, this eventually gave way to the other KFC (Korean fried chicken) dipped in a sweet and spicy gochujang which has exploded in popularity both at home and abroad. In fact, fried chicken is so popular that there’s even a portmanteau – chimaek which refers to chicken (chi) and beer (maekju).

Perhaps the oddest of the bunch is Cantonese crispy fried chicken, a sort of outlier in that it does not resemble the American fried chicken which most of the other Asian fried chicken is loosely based.

For starters, the chicken is poached in a bath of aromatics and spices, coated with syrup or vinegar, before it’s deep-fried sans coating. The dish is served with prawn chips and a side of pepper salt.

Core Korean Kitchen

The Leslieville restaurant went from fine dining to Korean comfort food during the pandemic.

In addition to rice bowls and stews, you can pick up boneless Korean fried chicken – dark meat only for optimal juiciness. Get it naked or in soy or sweet and spicy sauce.

Address: 896 Queen St E. @corerestaurant

Chop Chop

Located at the corner of Bathurst and Dundas, this trendy downtown restaurant is a family-run spot featuring small plates and larger format share plates.

Serving everything from mom’s dumplings and appetizers to pan-fried onion pancake, the showstopper is for sure their Taiwanese chicken with basil.

Address: 771 Dundas St West. @chopchop_to


Having moved from its original Queen West location famed for its kamayan dinners, their new location is housed in owner Les Sabilano’s parents’ former Filipino grocery and takeout spot at St. Clair West & Wychwood, an area with a sizable Filipino population.

Here, the fried chicken comes on a pan de leche bun with calamansi mayo, sweet pickles and lettuce or as a silog plate with garlic rice, fried egg, cucumber, tomato, pickled papaya, crispy onion, chilli oil and sweet soy sauce.

Address: 634 St. Clair Ave West. @lamesato

Gushi Foods

With humble beginnings as a food stall at the Scadding Court Community Centre, Gushi Foods now has a permanent location on Gerrard Street East.

With a focus on yatai (street food) culture, Gushi is famed for its karaage chicken. They also have Nanban chicken which is a regional take on karaage from Kyūsyū topped with a sweet and sour sauce with dry chilli called and sliced onions.

Address: 296 Gerrard St East & 707 Dundas St West. @gushitoronto

Mogu Fried Chicken

Having started out as a food truck before becoming a bricks and mortar, Mogu has expanded its offering of sweet and spicy karaage and katsu sandwiches to rice bowls, izakaya fare and udon.

Address: 1012 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC @mogufriedchicken

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Seoul Fried Chicken

Located in a shopping centre, Seoul Fried Chicken definitely has a whopping 7 flavours of Korean fried chicken to choose from including SFC OG, dad’s famous Korean bbq sauce, onion lover, cilantro lime, and garlic soy.

Pair it with a selection of not-so-Korean sides like their buttermilk corn fritters, kale caesar and pesto mac ‘n cheese.

Address: 7904b 104 St NW, Edmonton, AB. @seoulfriedchicken


This local eatery is serving up all the classic staples from lechon to sisig.

Get their fried chicken on waffles for brunch or on a bun for any other time of day. Theirs come doused in a calamansi syrup to keep things saucy.

Address: 1964 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC. @juniorfilipino

Backoos Korean to Go Food

Backoos is serving up rice bowls and japchae alongside its Korean fried chicken-heavy menu.

You can even get cheese budak here – crispy chicken nuggets doused in cheese and drenched in an insanely spicy sauce.

Address: 1360 Birmingham St, Halifax, NS. @backoos_korean_food

Popular Chains in Canada for Asian Fried Chicken

(1) Jolibee (Philippines)

(2) Monga (Taiwan)

(3) Call a Chicken (Chinese)

(4) Kinton Ramen (Japanese)