Much like my recent piece about tacos in Amsterdam, this article wouldn’t have been possible to write even just a couple of years ago. But fried chicken is having a moment in Amsterdam, and who am I to count calories when there’s serious research to be done?
Southern fried chicken: Biscuit Baby
I had to start with Biscuit Baby, because theirs was hands-down the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted in Amsterdam. The chicken itself is moist and succulent, with a lightly fried coating and a fabulously hot spice mix applied to it if that’s your thing (it’s completely optional but highly recommended). It also comes with hot honey, which is just the bomb. Because Biscuit Baby is in the business of southern fried chicken, most menu items come with biscuits – which are self-explanatory if you’re American and are like savoury scones if you’re everyone else. Impressively, the biscuits are pillowy soft but don’t fall apart the minute you bite into them. The waffle fries with ranch dressing are also the real deal – these guys can do no wrong.
Nashville hot chicken: Kip It Real
In 2020, the people who brought us Box Sociaal came out with Kip It Real – a good old-fashioned chicken bar. Think a range of chicken wings and chicken sandwiches, as well as various larger plates and sides. We tried the “Burner” – aka Nashville hot chicken (a favourite of mine from time spent in Tennessee) – which was a spicy, crispy-fried chicken thigh on a heavily calorific bun (I’m assuming it had been dunked in butter) with pickles and mayo. Diet food this is not. But it definitely hit the spot, especially with the addition of some homemade “real hot” sauce. The wings were equally good – coated in a buttermilk jacket and deep-fried to crispy perfection, served with a range of different sauces. My favourites were the aforementioned real hot, homemade ranch, and something sweet and spicy that might have been peach-habanero. Kip It Real has got My Next Hangover written all over it…
Surinamese fried chicken: Naskip
For something even spicier, head to Dapperstraat and pay a visit to Naskip. We tried their fillet strips, wings and a few larger, bone-in pieces, and all were moist and full of flavour with a perfectly crispy coating. The star of the show, however, has to be Naskip’s Surinamese hot sauce – which is fiercely spicy yet fruity from (I assume) the Madame Jeanette chilli peppers. But why wasn’t there more of it? We ordered over €30 in chicken and only received one tiny pot of the spicy gold. The side dishes – regular fries, sweet potato fries and corn on the cob – were all pretty decent, but again could have come with some sauces. Chips and mayo, anyone?
Korean fried chicken: Gangnam Chicken
Possibly the crispiest of the bunch was Gangnam Chicken – now with two locations, in West and Oost respectively. I’d wanted to eat inside (which is only possible at the branch in West) but at the last moment it was pouring with rain so we ended up getting takeaway from the Oost location. The crispiness apparently comes from the fact that Gangnam Chicken’s wings are double-coated-and-fried. And the small format (drumettes, wings or boneless) means that there’s plenty of surface area for the coating to cover. They offer three sauces, all of which were a bit sweet for my taste, but the Korean pepper sauce was at least moderately spicy. I also loved their kimchi!
Fried chicken and cocktails: Rotisserie
Just down the road from Gangnam Chicken on Beukenplein, you’ll find Rotisserie East (there’s also a Rotisserie West on De Clercqstraat). It has a handy sheltered terrace, but the inside is cosy as well – so you’ve got fried chicken covered in both summer and winter. Said chicken has a wonderfully savoury, moreish, crispy coating. Mr Foodie says it’s a travesty that it was off-the-bone chicken thighs cut into slices, but from a practical perspective it worked perfectly. And the ranch dressing was a nice touch, too. Meanwhile, Rotisserie’s cocktails are fantastic and good value – it was at Rotisserie that I discovered the Boulevardier (a whisky-vermouth-Campari combo that I’m currently addicted to). But you can also go off menu with an espresso martini or a mezcal sour.
New York-style fried chicken: Ladybird FC
Next to Sarphatipark, Ladybird FC has got New York written all over it. There are no reservations, tables turn over quickly, and the service is definitely more American than Dutch. In that you won’t have to wait to get attention, but equally you won’t be hanging around after your meal. We tried their crispy fried wings and their regular six-piece set of fried chicken, and all came in a tasty and crispy coating (although they could’ve been served a little warmer). I enjoyed all the sauces we tried, particularly the J&T house-made hot sauce (by now you know I’m a sucker for hot sauce). Their collard greens and mac & cheese were pretty authentic, though Ladybird’s biscuits could’ve been fluffier and and more buttery. Drinks include a good selection of beer and bubbles – which is what you want to cut through the crispy-skinned greasiness of fried chicken.
Fried chicken with vegetarian friends: Feed Amsterdam
Feed Amsterdam re-opened in its current incarnation in summer 2020. But before that, it was a branch of the highly popular Aussie mini-chain Drovers Dog. While they’ve added a radio studio and a focus on music and community, much of the rest remains the same: the décor is not much changed, and you’ll see several familiar faces among the staff members. And while the menu overall now features far more veg-led dishes, one meaty item that’s still going strong is the fried chicken. A generous portion of hot, crispy, delicious chicken that’s served with (what I think is) siracha mayonnaise. It’s a good sharing-sized plate for a couple of friends having a borrel. And if the rest of your friends are vegetarian, they’ll be happy too.