We just got back from our long break where we encountered various deadly Aussie wildlife from Great White Sharks in the chilly Southern Ocean to the crocs in balmy Queensland, both in person and on our plates (except the sharks!). But after all those exotic flavors we had a massive craving for some good ol’ fashioned crispy Melbourne fried chicken.
Colonel Tan’s was recommended by a friend and since we were still in our holiday haze, we chose it as the most convenient fried chook place. This time we invited our friends, Jason and Yasmin, to help us review the greasy, golden, crispy goodness.
On our way South on Chapel, we missed the entrance, but found it on the way back North. In the same building as Revolver. We pondered what a place known for late night into early morning shenanigans would serve up for dinner. Up the stairs through the various doorways we found a big, laid back joint with a DJ in a caged area (are we that dangerous?), some arcade games (extra points for bringing back the old days with Street Fighter) and kitschy tables and chairs (especially the overly cheerful table clothes).
The menu boasts a wide range of dishes that seem Thai inspired with the fried chicken tucked well at the bottom of the menu; titled “Colonel Tan’s Five Spice Chicken with Sweet Chilli”. We asked the waitress about the number of pieces that the order would have and she said at least 8 pieces and that they were substantial. So we decided to go with one order for the four of us – the rest of the meal from the entree menu: corn and coriander fritters with sweet chilli sauce, sweet potato dumplings, mushroom and tofu spring rolls with chilli plum sauce and betel leaf salad with snapper, peanuts, ginger, chilli, and lime. sounds amazing! Bring it on…
…And they did! The food came all out at once, entrees and fried chicken main. We dug right into the basket of chicken which was small pieces cut up similar to Korean fried chicken style. The pieces were well more then 8, closer to 15, but smaller than expected. The chicken was salty, lightly breaded, and greasy but Hollywood felt there was something not quite right about it; the chicken wasn’t hot and steamy, just warm, which confirmed Hollywood’s theory that the chicken was pre-cooked and reheated. With a name that long, we expected them to put more time into the preparation. All in all, the chicken was salty (where were the other five spices?) and reheated; average at best. The Chick was comforted by her favorite Aussie dipping sauce: Sweet Chili. But felt that wedges would have worked just as well for dipping.
The other dishes were all average. The fritters were dry, the spring rolls were a weird flavor and also not fresh. The only real winner was the betel salad which was fresh and flavorful.
Because we were taught to clear our plates, we finished the food but this Colonel’s chicken didn’t really do it for us. We were left yearning for good fried chicken. So we did the only reasonable thing given the neighborhood: we headed to the Parlour Diner.
If you’re in the area, and if you’re feeling the fried chicken, do yourself a favour: Skip Colonel Tan’s and head to the Parlour Diner. But get there early, they sold us the last Fried Chicken order that night, and we wouldn’t want you to be left craving.
Hollywood’s rating: 4/10 clucks
The Chick’s rating: 5/10 clucks