HEATING UP THE WEST SIDE

Oahu’s West Side has never been known for its food scene. But, in recent years, that’s been changing. In fact, some of my favorite places to eat are out there; and one of those places is the new Kickin Chick’n.

THE DETAILS

If Kickin Chick’n’s name sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s supposed to. The shop’s owners also own Kickin Cajun. Both of which are at Kapolei’s Kamakana Alii. While Kickin Cajun has its own standalone location on the same side at CPK, Kickin Chick’n is in the food court. Specifically, Kickin Chick’n occupies the space vacated by Banchan. And that’s a super-smart move, as they can take advantage of the infrastructure left behind by a very similar concept. 

Kickin Chick'n

THE MENU

For regulars of Von’s, a Korea-based fried chicken chain that has a few locations around Honolulu, the first thing you’ll notice about Kickin Chick’n is that they have fewer flavors than Von’s, but the overall menu is much more diverse. At it’s most basic, you can order boxes of wings and drumsticks in the following flavors:

  • Crispy Fried: $13 for Half (10 pcs) and $23 for Full (20 pcs)
  • Kickin (Mild or Spicy): $14.50 for Half or $25 for Full
  • Garlic Shoyu: $14.50 for Half or $25 for Full

If you want a plate with rice and coleslaw or radish pickles, you can do that too. The plain Crispy plate is $11.50, while the flavored varieties run $12.50. You can also do a cup of any of the flavors for $6.99 for Crispy, and $7.50 for the sauced varieties. The cups of chicken are boneless morsels, though, so keep that in mind.  

On the side, you can also order the following items:

  • Regular Fries: $3.50
  • Garlic Fries: $4.50
  • Kickin Fries: $4.50
  • Curly Fries: $4.50
  • Sweet Potato Fries: $4.50
  • Korean Corn Dog: $3.50
  • Korean Cheese Dog (cheese only): $4.50
  • Da Mix Dog (dog + cheese): $4.50
  • Chick'n on a stick: $4.50
  • Butter Sweet Corn on a Stick: $3.50
  • Jumbo Fried Shrimp on a Stick: $4.50
  • Sausage + Rice Cake on a Stick: $5.00
  • Two Scoops Rice: $2.50
  • Radish Pickle: $1.50
  • Cole Slaw: $2.00
  • Side Sauce: $2.00

WHAT I ORDERED

For my first visit to Kickin Chick’n, I decided to keep things simple. The wife and I got a Half order of Garlic Shoyu, a Half order of Kickin Mild, a cup of Kickin Fries, and a side of radish pickles. 

Kickin Chick'n
Garlic Shoyu and Kickin chicken with fries

That’s a glorious looking set of chicken, isn’t it? The lighter Garlic Shoyu is on the left in the above picture, while the darker Kickin is on the right. Either way, you go, though, the chicken comes out piping hot and with a crackly, crunchy, addictive skin that continues to hold well. In fact, the chicken we saved and took home remained crispy after refrigeration. We didn’t microwave our leftovers, though, to preserve the fantastic texture.

Kickin Chick'n
Garlic Shoyu chicken

Taste-wise, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the Kickin sauce tastes like. It has a vaguely savory/sweet flavor to it (mild) that doesn’t have much going on. The Garlic Shoyu, on the other hand, has a fantastic savory/sweet taste to it accented by the garlic. However, unlike versions from other Korean chicken places, the garlic isn’t too strong. It’s just right, in my opinion. But if you’re looking for an intense garlic punch, these wings might not be for you.

Kickin Chick'n
Kickin Chicken

The fries have a similar taste to the Kickin sauce on the chicken with a sweet profile on the front. But the heat builds quickly, and they proved to be too spicy for me. My wife, however, loved them. And the radish pickles are your typical Korean variety that tastes like local-made takuan, minus the yellow color. But they’re essential to the experience, in my opinion, providing a tart/sweet palette cleansing.

Kickin Chick'n
Kickin Fries

On another occasion, we got more Garlic Shoyu chicken and an order of their Curly Fries.  These aren’t your typical curly fries, being much thicker. But they have just the right amount of seasoning, in my opinion, and a good texture.

Kickin Chick'n
Curly Fries

KICKIN CHICK'N VS. VONS

Aside from the menu, there are significant differences between Kicken Chick’n and Vons. Kicken Chick’n’s chicken skins are thicker, crunchier, and more crackly. Von’s, on the other hand, has a thinner, lighter, “crispy” skin. The flavors are stronger at Kickin, in my opinion, too, which is a plus to me. And, as far as prices go, they’re pretty similar. Kickin Chick’n is more expensive when it comes to Half sizes and sides, but Von’s is more expensive on the Full sizes. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I never tried Banchan when they were around. But, I hear they weren’t good at all. Luckily that isn’t the case with Kickin Chick’n. I just visited them for the first time and already find myself wanting to go back. And go back I will. That said, I still like Von’s too and will continue to patronize both shops. With Von’s, though, I’ll probably stick with their oven-baked chicken instead. 

Kickin Chick’n
Ka Makana Alii Center
91-5431 Kapolei Parkware Suite 302
Kapolei, HI 96707
Ph: 808-628-4518
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