The Spinoff Board of Review visited Texas Chicken on west Auckland’s Lincoln Rd to see if its Fiery Crunch Chicken was, as claimed, the “spiciest fried chicken in New Zealand”.
This was a test, right? What is stronger – the love of fried food or the fear of looking stupid in front of your workmates? Chicken or not to be chicken. I love some juicy hot bird but I have to be honest that I’m pretty (very) weak when it comes to properly hot stuff. In the car ride out I was nervous – the press release had hooked me in pretty hard with talk of Scoville readings and no one ever being able to eat more than three pieces – so my mind was running through all the terrible ways I might make a dick of myself if I couldn’t handle it. Would it be sweaty-face-lips-numb hot? Or need-to-lie-on-the-floor-and-try-not-to-piss-myself hot? I mean, I haven’t known Ra that long, and Mad makes harsh but fair office-eyes-only memes that I’d rather not star in.
But too much hype is a killer. The chicken was very, very good, but I barely broke a sweat. Fresh, good flavour, good crunch, good size, but on the heat scale not much more than a little lip tingle. I got slightly sweaty but mostly because I had sun in my eyes. So it’s a harsh but fair ruling: If I’d gone looking for good fried chicken I’d be very happy, but we were looking for an experience. As Kevin Sorbo said: disappointed.
– Toby Morris
After growing up as a boring food eater (I liked chicken, pasta, peanut butter and chocolate milk, basically), I decided in my late teens to stop being such a dick about food. Being overly picky (unless you have serious allergies and/or an ethical/religious/cultural diet) is boring – for you and the people you eat with (especially if they also cook for you). So, after years of ordering McChickens and butter chickens, I began to disregard everything I’d built up over the years as “my taste” and started afresh, open to trying everything I had written off as a kid. Including spicy food.
I also love chicken. I stopped eating it for about eight years while I was vegetarian, but ever since, the first thing I consider on any menu is a spicy chicken option. Taco, sandwich, curry, noodles, whatever. If it’s chicken and spicy, I’ll probably order it.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when I heard about Texas Chicken’s new Fiery Crunch Chicken, which the chain claimed would be the “spiciest fried chicken in New Zealand”. In an email, Texas Chicken’s New Zealand country manager, Allan Simons, said: “This chicken will knock your socks off – literally.”
After getting over the misuse of “literally”, I got pretty excited. I enjoy Texas Chicken’s normal spicy chicken quite a lot. But a couple of years ago they had a limited run of a spicier chicken called Habanero Exxxtreme!!! or something. It was delicious and definitely spicier than what you’d expect at an international fast food chain. So, if this was spicier, I had to try it. I wanted my socks knocked off – figuratively.
So… was it the spiciest chicken in New Zealand? No, definitely not. And it’s not even close. I had much spicier chicken later that night at Satya Chai Lounge in Sandringham.
Was it even spicy? A little. It was spicier than their normal spicy chicken and you did get a lot more chilli flavour and aroma, but it was only a few Scoville thingies above KFC’s Hot & Spicy. Sure, I know we weren’t about to get served some Nashville hot chicken or anything, but still… a disappointment,
Was it delicious? Yes, yes it was.
Can something be delicious and a disappointment? Yes. I’ve learnt that it can.
Would I eat it again? Yes. Yes I would.
– Henry Oliver
Notify the authorities, Texas Chicken lied! “We might have just invented the spiciest chicken in NZ!” they screamed on Facebook. Not only has this been proven false, but they didn’t even get close with their Fiery Crunch. It smelled spicy, at least. After we ordered, we walked by a table of diners and I caught the distinct smell of spice and I felt like I might sneeze. It was a good sign. But when I bit into my first drumstick, I was met with scolding hot chicken (good) and nothing else (bad).
I looked up at the signage on the windows around me and wondered, if this is Fiery Crunch, what is Spicy? And is it possible to be milder than mild? If it is, surely Texas Chicken’s original recipe achieves it, because their Fiery Crunch was merely a tickle of the senses. Otherwise it was great, and writing this has made me want to get it again for lunch, so well done, I guess.
– Madeleine Chapman
Texas Fried Chicken was quite enjoyable. I liked that the temperature of the chicken was HOT, because it indicated to me that it had been cooked very recently. The spice factor was not hard to handle, but as a purveyor of mild butter chicken, I found it a welcome addition of flavour. The biscuits weren’t really my thing, but maybe it was just because I was chock full of potato and gravy.
– Ra Pomare
The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.