Chicken wings — whether fried or drenched in sauces savory, sweet, goopy, or blue-cheesy — are always a crowd favorite. An almost perfect finger food, with bones you can creatively dispose of. (Even vegans love their gluten-free soy-based mini-drumsticks.)
If you're a fan of the hugely popular L.A. wing spots — Hot Wings Cafe, Alondra Hot Wings, Wingstop and Big Wangs — get ready for a new experience in flavor explosion at places you drive by every day, but never stop to try. These may not be your usual wings, but they may easily be the best unusual wings you've never had in Los Angeles. (And, maybe your new favorites.) Plus, all five offer party platters — they're perfect for your Super Bowl party. Turn the page.
When you think of chicken wings, Indian cuisine may not be the first that comes to mind, but Akbar's spicy chicken wings might change that. Not only are your taste buds scorched by the taste of fire, but also the flavors of cumin, coriander, fennel and ginger. Since Akbar's wings are tandoor-roasted and not fried, they're moist, tender and juicy. Served with mint chutney, coconut chutney and pickled vegetables (which also happen to be quite spicy). Remember to order a mango lassi or a side of yogurt raita to help put out the heat (rated 5 on a 1-5 scale). You may need it. 44 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 577-9916. 3115 Washington Blvd. Marina Del Rey; (310) 574-0666. 2627 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 586-7469. 1101 Aviation Blvd., Hermosa Beach; (310) 937-3800.
The only time you may have stumbled into China Lee Chinese Fast Food may have been the night you needed to use the restroom while waiting in line to get into the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a screening of The Evil Dead 2. Otherwise, you may have just passed this little establishment — housed in the same strip mall as Lucy's Laundromat and Autozone. At first, China Lee seems like your ordinary non-Panda Express steam table-fest, but the fried chicken wings are anything but ordinary. Spiced with an abundance of black and crushed red peppers, these Chinese spicy-salt inspired wings are crunchy and wonderfully zesty. Moderately juicy at the first bite and quite meaty, these wings may be the highlight of your picnic at the cemetery screening. 5920 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 871-2838.
3. OK Chinese Food:
If you happen to be at the laundromat folding your latest concert T-shirts, you may notice people walking out of the OK Chinese Food in the same mini-mall with huge aluminum platters — one after another. When asked, patrons immediately respond, “Get the chicken wings. Everything else is just OK.” Haha. But these wings are far from just OK. At first bite, a deep chicharon-like crunch is followed by moist meaty goodness and a hint of soy. Then, a bouquet of Chinese five-spice. Your friends may wonder why you do your laundry so often. 4917 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 258-3178.
2. Broaster Kitchen:
Operated by the mother and son team of Gerry and Mike Monroe, Broaster Kitchen has been around since 1970 and its still going strong. Broasted is not roasted then broiled; it's a clever marriage of pressure cooking and deep frying in their signature appliance — the Broaster. It takes about 15 minutes to cook each piece of chicken, and every piece is made to order. It's not the Colonel's blend of 11, but you won't miss his recipe when you get started on these fried wings. Rich, nutty and perfectly seasoned, it's fried chicken at its most comforting best. In addition to the fried chicken wings, Broaster Kitchen's hot wings are equally incredible bites of splendor. Not your usual wings drenched in hot sauce, these are broasted in a marinade of paprika, cayenne, seasoning salt and pepper. Kicking in at the 8-second mark, the heat is generous and flavorful. You only wish the wings were larger. If you've never had a reason to head over to Montebello, you do now. 1440 W. Beverly Blvd., Montebello; (323) 722-4190.
On your way to and from LAX, you may have passed the Googie-styled Pann's Restaurant on the corners of La Tijera and La Cienega. The fried chicken wings at Pann's come standing tall and proud in full regalia — the wing, drumette and winglet all attached. Perched atop of a Belgian waffle, majestic and fried to a golden brown, you can taste a blend of pepper and seasoning salt that would make Lawry's proud. Please remember to breathe in between your moments of wing worship. 6710 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 670-1441.
Want more Squid Ink?