Expand your horizons to find the best chicken in town.
When I heard that it was National Fried Chicken Day, I decided to treat myself to the best fried chicken in Portland.
What do you think of when someone asks about the best fried chicken in the Rose City? Bae’s Fried Chicken? Basilisk? JoJo? Reverand’s BBQ? Reel M Inn? Pine State Biscuits? Lardo? Screen Door?
I will agree that all of those places have fabulous fried chicken, but in my humble opinion, none compare to the deliciousness that is the fried chicken at Boke Bowl. If you think of Boke Bowl as only a fantastic place for ramen, you’re missing a true treat: their Korean fried chicken.
After starting as a monthly pop-up in 2010, Boke Bowl moved into its first bricks and mortar location in Portland's Central Eastside Industrial District a year later. This nondescript storefront tucked between bridges along the river soon became a favorite for both lunch and dinner.
Boke Bowl soon cultivated a cadre of what Eater Portland called “cultish fans” of Boke’s fried chicken. People lined up for the restaurant’s Korean Fried Chicken Night with the fervor usually reserved for Screen Door’s brunch. Fried chicken nights included chicken that was brined for forty-eight hours, par smoked, and chilled overnight before it was fried and tossed in a garlic ginger soy sauce.
Eventually the restaurant opened additional locations to keep up with the demand and branched out into offering other fried chicken options that every food critic in Portland seemed to rave about.
So what makes Boke Bowl’s fried chicken so special?
Boke Bowl starts with high quality chicken that is served fresh and hand-cut, buttermilk onion brined and breaded to order. The result? Tender, flavorful chicken that melts in your mouth.
At the main Boke Bowl location you can enjoy your fried chicken in a soft “steam bun”, paired with flavorful spicy mustard, or in a bowl with rice, kimchi, pickles, and an Asian Fennel slaw. Either option makes a great lunch or dinner.
Pro tip: if you’re ordering the Steam Buns, be sure to add a pickle plate. This assorted pickle pate includes seasonal vegetables, pickled to perfection, with a serving of ginger and green onion rice and Korean seaweed to wrap around your pickles and rice.
If you want a little more in the vegetable department, check out Boke Bowl’s great assortment of salads, such as the warm Brussels sprouts salad, which combines brussels sprouts, cauliflower, seasonal fruit, and house made tofu croutons in a Thai vinaigrette dressing.
The chilled sesame noodle salad is perfect for hot summer days. It includes chilled house made ramen noodles mixed with lemon soy vinaigrette, greens, seasonal vegetables, Korean pickles, tomatoes, shallots, and a sesame drizzle. The salad comes with your choice of smoked pork tenderloin or tofu.
Looking for dessert? Try the Boke Twinkie, a housemade vanilla miso twinkie filled with butterscotch pastry cream. You won’t be sorry.
The fried chicken dinner night that made Boke Bowl famous is still offered on Thursday nights from 4-8 p.m. out of the eastside Portland location. It’s served family style with a variety of sides and of course, pickles.
Boke Bowl has a variety of options for special diets, including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian. Ingredients are clearly indicated so you can make sure your vegan friends don’t accidentally order something with fish sauce.
There's even a peanut butter and jelly steam bun option for your finicky kids if they're not interested in the kid-sized rice or ramen bowls.
Check out the Boke Bowl website for information on hours and locations that are currently open. You can get your food to go or order in with most of Portland’s popular delivery platforms.
Have you tried Portland's Boke Bowl chicken yet? Let me know what you think!
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