• Charles Pludthura

Destination Dining: The Chicken Lunchbox at Simon and Lee

I want to be open and transparent with you. I love fried chicken a lot. A lot. I love beach holidays. I love ice cream at the movies. I also love watching elderly people eat their food (the way they chew their food is fantastic viewing - try it some time). But I love fried chicken way way way more. KFC is pretty popular in NZ. And I'm not going to lie. 'Do you like KFC' was the 3rd and final question in my search for "the one" (she said yes by the way). So when word gets out that there's some decent fried chicken on the scene, there's no mucking around. It's a foodcraft-duty to nail that chicken-booty.

Momentary random segway. I love movies. I try to hit a flick at the cinema once every 1 - 2 weeks. So it goes without saying, I’ve watched a lot of movies in my lifetime. When people ask the question, what’s your favourite film of all time? How long would it take you to answer?

Me? I don’t hesitate. I know. It's Ang Lee's masterpiece: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Why is it my favourite? Hmmm, that's a whole blog by itself. But how do I know it's my favourite? Simple really. I saw it 7 times at the cinema. Seriously. Using that same scientific approach and rationale, I can easily determine some of "my" best dishes in Auckland. The ones that I go back for time and time again. The ones you try to detour from when you’re eye-stabbing the menu but with the best of intentions, revert back to at the very last second as the waitstaff wait for your order. So having had the chicken lunchbox at Simon and Lee 5 times in 6 visits, fair to say this is a dish worth talking about and celebrating. Mind you, this is not the only dish at this eatery to rave about. These guys have got some seriously good game in the tasty food department. Their bibimbap is crazy good and could easily be a blog-worthy entrant. But let’s get back on track here to the star of the show. Chicken.

Not just any kind of chicken. Korean Fried Chicken.

You see, Korean fried chicken is the business. If there was a fried chicken event at the Olympics, fo’sure South Korea would be up on the podium. Simon and Lee do it justice. And one of the best ways to enjoy it is through their chicken lunchbox offering. Delivered via a school lunch canteen-type tray, the on-the-bone fried chook which is clearly the main event comes to you with its good pals – an asian-styled slaw, some yum pickles, and a handful of shoestring fries with aioli on the side. With 5 flavours for the chicken ranging from original to danger spicy, choose your own path of chicken-loving, including your very own disposable plastic glove. Suffice to say, my first lunchbox experience began with danger spicy, and has more recently settled with the garlic soy. Each to your own. Do what I do and get it in Garlic Soy and ask for a side of Danger Spicy sauce. Regardless of the sauce, this chook is tasty. And the crunch factor is right up there. Everything else on the tray serves a purpose, however, if there was one small thing I could change, it would be the fries and aioli. As much as I love that classic combo, I think a small serve of their loaded waffle fries (with kimchi, mozzarella and spring onions) would have really been on point and smashed this dish out of the park. All that said, I’m here for the fried chicken. Correction. I’ve been here for the fried chicken. 5 times. And because I like fried chicken so much, you can bet the house on it that I’ll be back for more.

PS: I have a lot of fried chicken stories. Remind me to tell you a few if you’re interested if we ever go on a tour together. Keen on checking this dish out? Go to: Simon and Lee, 115 Saint Georges Bay Road, Parnell | simonandlee.com

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