The first time I had chicken wings in Japan, I almost didn’t think I was eating chicken because the chicken wing looked like it belonged on a tiny pigeon. What the issue was, it wasn’t the chicken, but my perception and distorted view of what an actual sized chicken wing should look like. Unlike the chicken in the U.S., in Japan, the wings didn’t look as though they were “roided up” like some Huntington Beach bro. The chicken I had was along the lines of a hipster chicken in skinny jeans because it was petite. Each chicken wing I nibbled on was as if I were eating the corn off the cob of baby corn.
After looking into why chicken wings are so big in the U.S., I found out why via the Huffington Post, and you’re not going to like why.
You want big! We’ll give you big. Not only that, but we’ll also grow it faster. The only trade-off is that it comes with the use of synthetic hormones in the feedstock, or FDA approved arsenic to promote growth and to kill parasites. If that isn’t enough, many of our foods will be genetically engineered to maximize and ensure your wings are bro’d out to the max bro.
Since the environment and conditions are often cramped and dirty, additional techniques include washing chickens in a final chlorine bath help to kill any bacteria during the slaughtering process, yum.
How bad are these bad boy chickens? They’re bad enough that your parents are going to frown on you for hanging out with them. They’re so bad that a lot of the products used in the farming processes are banned in various parts of the world from the European Union, Japan, and even some states in the U.S. like Maryland.
Drug Free Chickens
I never thought I’d buy a $600 vacuum (a Playstation yes, but not a vacuum), or that I’d care about the quality of chicken I buy. Well, times have changed, and the one thing that motivates me to seek out quality chicken is my good experience in Japan. The chicken in Japan seems to be more akin to Red Bird Farms chicken (read this article about the CEO of RBF) in Colorado and the chicken in Wisconsin. That chicken was so noticeably better that there’s no way I could buy the chicken from mainstream grocery stores that didn’t carry similar brands. Slicing into a quality chicken results in a slice of meat that is denser and smoother, and I saw something almost foreign to me. I saw what looked like a golden colored chicken broth seeping out from the slab of the freshly sliced meat, so this is what real chicken is like.
I have not seen Red Bird Farms locally at Sprouts or any Japanese market, but what I do commonly come across are local suppliers. It’s very common to find Chino Valley Rancher (guess where they’re from) for free range organic eggs to Shelton’s premium poultry (Pomona, CA) which promotes the elimination of antibiotics and growth stimulants.
Old and Stale or Fresh and Juicy
One thing that keeps me away from any spot is if the food is overcooked or the food hasn’t been cooked-to-order. That’s the reason why I’m not a fan of Buffalo Wild Wings because it always seems like their wings are overcooked till they’re dry and hard (I can bet that they’re frozen which is one reason why In’n’Out doesn’t use frozen hamburger patties). I have never had them taste as if they were freshly prepared although none of this matters to the majority of their customers who I assume don’t care regardless, especially after several pitchers of beer.
If you like plump, juicy chicken you’ll want to try out most Japanese wing places out, but just be warned that there is a considerable wait because they’re cooking the product to order. It goes the same with most, if not all Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese chicken wing places too. An honorable mention goes out to Middle Eastern kabob places (not necessarily chicken wings) like House of Kabob in Irvine.
I’m not totally certain as to the quality of chicken any of these places use, but I’ll take not eating stale or overcooked chicken for the win.
Beyond mutant chicken wings, or drug free chickens, let me tell you of a world beyond just Buffalo wings.
Nagoya is Japans third largest metropolitan area of 9.1 million people and just like Buffalo New York and buffalo wings; Nagoya Japan has its own unique style of wings. These wings are crispier, crunchier and just as tasty with its sweet soy glaze.
Large chains like Yamachan from Nagoya serve these wings, and they tout their health benefits being anti-aging, hair growth and strengthening bone joints. Not sure how much I believe of that, but I think some OC housewives and balding dudes just might be interested to know.
An example of the common ingredients used in tebasaki are listed below. For the complete recipe you’ll have to go to the Nagoya International Center website.
- Potato starch
- Soy sauce
- Garlic powder or shichimi-togarashi
- Salt and pepper
- White sesame seeds
Want to try these wings but too lazy to cook them yourself, well you can give them a try at one of these spots, enjoy bro (yes, and they have beer):
If you have a favorite wing spot, please let me know.