Hollywood (A.K.A Cluckmaster) had been aware of a new Melbourne Fried Chicken clucker that is to be reckoned with calling itself the Hot Star. He has been talking up the potential of this contender to the Chick who was wary of the fast food style and what it might imply about the quality.
Thankfully, Hot Star surprised and delighted with a new take on a favorite food. Apparently our reputation as Melbourne Fried Chicken connisours preceded us, so after snapping a few photos out the front we were invited into the kitchen to see how the magic was made.
The chicken is marinated for a day before being coated in, wait for it, tapioca flour! Apparently this is all the rage in Taiwan, and the Swanston location is the first outlet of the franchise in Australia. It sounded a bit odd, but after a bite, it was clear to the chick that a new style had been invented that was worth note. It is not as crispy as Southern Fried Chicken, the tapioca gives it a bit of a spongier/sweeter note. But they are coming out with a crispierr version that sounds worth a second visit.
The chicken is a single breast piece, cut by dedicated professionals to get the maximum surface area. You’ll know what I mean when you are handed your breast in a bag that seems bigger than your head. There are the occasional bones left in for flavor, but otherwise it is a smooth piece of breading and chicken. The Chick isn’t a big fan of fast food, but this was fast, fresh and full of flavor.
The frying is done in real time from fresh (not frozen) chicken, so there’s a bit of a wait after you order, but it is worth it. The chicken comes out steamy, not too greasy and the unique tapioca breading a perfect golden color. The original version comes coated in salt and pepper, there is also a spicy version with a bit of chilli powder sprinkled on top, a hint of flavor, easy to swallow for those who can’t handle their spice. The Chick preferred the original but dipped in chilli sauce found next door at Rice Paper.
The sweet potato fries are not always available because they are made with a wet batter and take longer, but they are worth it. And if the other wet batter items coming (crispy chicken, mushrooms) are anything like the potatoes, then we’ll be back.
Conclusion: Even if you tend to avoid fast food joints, but love fresh fried food, Hot Star is for you. $9 a bag makes this one of the best cost/flavor combo we’ve found in Melbourne. It also sat well with the cluckmaster as a great on-the-go meal. Thumbs up!
Hollywood’s Rating: 7/10 Clucks
The Chick’s Rating: 8/10 Clucks