So, here we are, in a global pandemic. Fun, eh?
I am not sure about you all, but for me, it has been interesting. I am working full-time, but have family around the globe and a long distance fling in some of the worst affected areas for COVID-19. Sigh. Stress and fatigue are realties right now.
For this reason, let’s be honest, I have been eating – stress eating.
There was definitely a point in the initial first wave where I was devouring UberEats and others in some unhealthy binges. However, since moving (into a building that has a small, functional gym), I have slimmed down a bit and am trying the occasional salad here and there.
That said, I have acquired a great taste for fried chicken sandwiches (which became my favourite binge food), and let me say, Vancouver has its selection from which to choose. With time, I even decided after awhile that I wanted to test, sample, and gorge myself on the best that Vancouver has to offer in this category.
However, I quickly realised that there are a lot of fried chicken sandwiches in “Van” and I could not complete this herculean feat in just one summer. For this reason, the Chicken Sandwich Chronicles were born. In each instalment, we will be introducing and comparing various spots around the city, creating a chicken narrative if you will …
I would assume, and hope, at this point most of the readers of this article are local since we need to #stayhome and not travel for leisure right now. If not, I hope those outside the Vancouver area will read these forthcoming lists and reviews for something to savour later once there is a vaccine and vacations do not lead to lethal consequences.
Please let me tantalise you and without further delay, let us beginning talking about the wide variety and choices in selecting the perfect fried chicken sandwich in Vancouver.
Let’s begin the first chicken sandwich chronicle!
Juke Fried Chicken
A city favourite with a quaint location in Chinatown, Juke Fried Chicken is a staple and Black-owned business in Vancouver worth a stop. The restaurant serves barbecue in general with ribs as an option as well as cuts of bone-in fried chicken.
Their sides are also phenomenal with slaw and mac & cheese as major hits. That said, some locals do feel this location is a bit overrated given its popularity and its length of time in the city.
However, my experience there has never been disappointing. The chicken is tender, moist (even after sometimes a long wait), and totally worth trying. Be sure to sample and ask about their unique sauce flavours too to really get the Juke experience.
Nowadays, many people opt for delivery or take-away. And, pre-pandemic, this place got busy! For an elevated BBQ experience, swing on by or stay in the comfort of your home and try delivery. The chicken holds up despite travel time; don’t worry!
Review: Juke is by no means a small player in the fried chicken game in Vancouver. Its sandwich is on the smaller size, but oftentimes, we substitute quantity for moisture retention. The breading that Juke coats its morsels in is one of the best likely in the city.
Rich, tangy, and light, it hits all the notes you would want in a fried chicken sandwich. The durability of the sandwich too has to be commended. The slaw and additional companions in the bun are more modest than others on this list, but they do really enhance the texture and the flavours of its great base poultry product.
Price: $7 ~ two sandwiches for $12 / Gluten free bun available for +$1 (Does that mean it is 14 dollars for the two-sandwich deal?? Idk.)
Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen
Another joint on “the Drive,” a local favourite strip in Vancouver, Siddhartha’s may not seem like a typical place to find a fried chicken sandwich. While it was originally only an Indian restaurant, the chef owner has ventured into other areas, including chicken!
You got to keep it interesting!
Aside from a large, diverse South Asian menu, Siddhartha’s possesses a special fried chicken menu with wings, cuts, and sandwiches. Some more familiar Indian dishes like butter chicken and a tandoori dish also find their way onto this menu. And, from the photos, they look pretty appetising.
Review: When it comes to fried chicken sandwiches, unfortunately, I was a wee bit disappointed when I received my order.
Coming off of Yom Kippur, I was hungry from fasting, so I binged on an order of butter chicken, samosa chaat, and a chicken sandwich.
While the chaat was everything I imagined, the sandwich was unfortunately a bit lacklustre. The chicken’s breading was coming off, and the accompaniments were not up to snuff. While the sandwich was flavourful, its consistency was not there. And, even coming off of a fast, I was not blown away. The sandwich did not live up to its photo representation either to be frank; no apparent brioche bun in sight.
The butter chicken was good, and again, the samosa chaat was fantastic with the mixtures of flavours, textures, and smells that you would want from this dish. So, I may be ordering and tasting again. However, I might stick to a korma.
Downlow Chicken Shack
Downlow Chicken Shack is a staple. No, not a staple, a landmark for fried chicken in this city.
At the end of Commercial Drive, “DL Chicken” is known for its tasty and massive portions. And, unfortunately so much in fact, you can expect queues and sometimes down phone lines when calling in a pick-up order.
Fun fact: the medium heat level is the same as the mild; the medium just has more seasoning!
“DL Chicken” is known for its sandwiches in particular. They do speciality and other BBQ cuisine like donut sandwiches, pulled pork dishes, and ribs, but the chicken sandwiches are their fan favourites. The Hannibal Lector sandwich that includes a fried egg is my favourite, especially as a combo with fries.
“DL Chicken” has a sister location that focuses mostly on burgers (DL Burgers) too, and they also offer a selection of their fried chicken dishes at this other locale. The Commercial Drive spot is the OG, and if one is coming to Commercial for the first time, “DL” is a must to try.
As a note, as they are a community restaurant, they are vocal about their opinions regarding social issues like Black Lives Matter and over-policing. If you do not support this movement, first, fuck off a wee bit, and also, this place might not be the venue for you. Also, be sure to dispose of your order boxes responsibly and not litter around the area; the neighbourhood thanks you!
Review: “DL Chicken” has a reputation to uphold, so it is no surprise that they deliver on quality and quantity (even if they don’t actually offer delivery).
Its sandwiches, or ‘sandos’ as the menu calls them, are diverse and filling. And, the establishment’s choice of breast meat instead of thigh makes its products larger than most on this list.
Of course, the danger here is dryness. As many a chef will know, chicken breast has a tendency to dry out faster than other cuts of this versatile bird.
Combined with its canonic dry spices, the sandwich might seem drier than the more compact sandwich contenders listed here. However, the average DL sandwich is by no means subpar. With the sauces, slaws, and occasional egg that can be added between the buns, DL handhelds satisfy with juiciness and complex flavour profiles (if not excess spillage)! They truly go beyond barbecue. And, waiting in line, the cheery vibe with its window staff, and authentic social media add to the experience. You know that good people are making your food here — which counts for so much.
Price: $16 for sandwich and one side / +$3 to upgrade the sandwich to a Cannibal Lector (with fried egg!)
Hi Five Chicken
Okay, so fast food might not evoke the same response as a cool diner or upscale pub or chicken shack. But, when it comes to chicken sandwiches, Hi Five Chicken rings true as a staple for late night ordering in Vancouver.
Let’s be honest – what state are we in when ordering chicken sandwiches? Oftentimes, I will admit, inebriated and ready for something juicy. Hi Five Chicken is a proud Canadian-owned, 24/7 chicken joint with 4 locations since 2016 and does not fail its growing customer base.
For metropolitan Vancouver, the closest of its locations is on South Marine Drive.
Ordering from delivery apps is the company’s go-to, but they also run store promotions and pick-ups!
The chicken sandwiches hold up well despite travel and changing hands. And, these little babies do not lose moisture or flavour in transit. Want a delicious local fast food option after a late night in Vancouver? Hi Five is the one to try!
Review: Hi Five might not seem like a true joint to list, but it’s a local fast food venue. Church’s Chicken (a more well known franchise) will not be making an appearance, and I wanted to add at least one late night location.
Hi Five is deliverable, there for you in the darkest times, and meets a fair price point for most folks. One aspect that assures me that it provides a good chicken sandwich is that Hi Five’s slaw and veggies are placed with care. Despite coming in usually at a witching hour, the poulet-carb combo in question is presentable and delectable.
As for competition, Hi Five does not standup to the others in this chronicle. However, it also is not really in the same league either. Its value in conjunction with its crepuscular showtime on your plate/unwrapping is what makes it so good – not necessarily creativity in the dish itself, size, or breading.
It is definitely above Church’s quality by a few notches, so I hope Hi Five gains more traction in the city and a few more stores into this decade.
Price: $9.25 on UberEats
While you are on Commercial Drive, why not stop by Cannibal Café too. A burger and chicken joint more in the heart of this famous, neighbourhood street, it has a take-out window and some nice products, I tell you what [in a Hank Hill accent].
Let’s be real: Cannibal does not have the same glam factor as “DL Chicken”. Sorry.
However, it is slightly more accessible coming up from the Broadway skytrain stations and bus lines, and its chicken burgers are nothing short of delicious. And, they offer delivery …
The eatery specialises in burgers, beer and elevated pub food, so expect less of a chicken sandwich inventory from which to choose. However, they do offer the option of chicken breast or thigh for your chicken sandwich.
I would opt for a thigh piece for a juicier experience and a more consolidated, put together chicken burger.
The ‘Bad Mother Clucker’ is 14 CAD for a breast and 13 CAD for a thigh. And, the sandwich does not come with fries on its own, so keep that detail in mind.
Review: Cannibal is a great spot for me. I can order at the window with my dog. Hang about, go to a nearby plant store, and then come back and pick up a flavourful, fulfilling chicken burger.
It is smaller than others on this list; however, I would say the quality is higher than many others. And, I can go about my day after eating this sandwich.
I won’t be in a bloated state if I have this chicken burger for lunch, which is a plus for me! As you can see in the photo, breading is not Cannibal’s forte, so I again would choose the thigh option over the breast, and go for the fries – you deserve it!
Price: thigh-cut for $13 / breast-cut for $14 on the Bad Mother Clucker
And, with that, this last proverbial plate of poultry ends our first Chicken Sandwich Chronicle.
As the weather get colder, my hunger for the tastiest sandwiches around will not falter. I may just not be able to enjoy them on patios as the rain comes for the season.
Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for the next chicken sandwich to try in Vancouver? Want to share? Comment below. More to come soon in this strange time with travel takes, safely and respectfully.