Sunday, 21 March 2010

KFC Thailand: a review

Thai food has become a major institution in the UK over the past couple of decades, with even the dodgiest of boozers offering up plates of Green Curry or Pad Thai. On a recent trip to Thailand then, KFB needed to try something totally different in order to satisfy their culinary urges. We wanted to sample Thai KFC. After a day of searching, a branch within a shopping centre was stumbled upon. It was time to dine.

First impressions were good - the restaurant was packed and the smells eminating from inside were certainly alluring. We made our way to the front of the queue and snapped a pic of the menu (which we were promptly told wasn't allowed). We were excited to see most of the usual mainstays alongside some delicious looking new additions. Fish donuts, anyone?

It was only upon closer inspection though that we noticed a serious problem: there was no Zinger Tower on the menu. Zinger burgers yes but the hash brown and cheese was sadly absent. Determined not to give up, we ordered a selection of treats from the menu. First up was a Zinger meal with an accompanying shrimp donut.

Zinger burger meal and shrimp donut
Disappointing. That is the sad sad truth about the Zinger burger at Thai KFCs. With careful scientific analysis we were able to quickly arrive at the reason for the let down - no breast meat. Yes you heard that right folks - it's all dark meat in this here burger. Now I know what you might be thinking - 'But KFB, everyone knows dark meat has the most flavour - surely the Thai Colonel has struck gold with this idea'. Unfortunately if you were in fact thinking along these lines you'd be wrong - very wrong in fact. We could tell from the first bite that something was amiss - namely: flavour and texture. This was one chewy burger. And the lack of a flavour hit as a pay-off was most disappointing. In fact, the act of consuming this burger might best be described as similar to masticating a stringy piece of cardboard.

Onto the shrimp donut then. What a concept this is - breaded mozzarella cheese stuffed with shrimp and deep fried until a crisp golden brown. A great shame then that this too was a let down. The problem here was again in the lack of flavour - mozzarella is at the best of times a mild cheese but combining it with tiny shrimps and tasteless breadcrumbs and it's a bland result all round. Still, there is some novelty factor in telling people you've eaten a shrimp or fish (which we didn't sample) donut.

New Orleans Chicken Fried Rice
Not to be confused with American Fried Rice which I would strongly encourage you to read about, this seemed a concoction of egg fried rice with vegetables and a side serving of chicken glazed with something akin to Teryaki sauce. I am very pleased to report that it was very tasty indeed and suffered from none of the dryness that commonly afflicts similar dishes. Again the
meat was brown rather than white but we'd wager that it would make a tasty burger nonetheless if they ventured down that path.

Shrimp balls/Popcorn shrimp
Our final accompaniment came in the form of small round fishy balls but don't let the description put you off. Actually, scrap that, do let it put you off. These round morsels suffered from the same issues as the shrimp donut in that they were filled with cheese and basically tasteless.

So overall, something of a disappointment. We here at KFB love KFC because of the hugely flavoursome food with a perfectly balanced mixture of textures. This simply wasn't the case over in Thailand. It might have all sounded intruiging on the menu but in the eating was as bland as an old shoe. Their one saving grace? You can order your chicken (or shrimp!) online using the KFC Thailand website. Now that is an idea we need to see over here in the UK immediately.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

TLO BBQ Rods Box Meal

The TLO is dead, Long live the TLO

As the Spicy texan boxmaster is consigned to the annals of history (and KFBs Archive for your viewing pleasure) so the BBQ Rods Box Meal arrives to take its place and serves as a great reminder of the sizzling summer ahead.

If you like BBQ, you're gonna love this. This TLO consists of

1 x BBQ rod: 4 skewered mouthfull sized pieces of crispy chicken slathered in BBQ sauce.

1 x Fries

1 x BBQ beans

1 x Drink

1 x BBQ beast burger: Your choice of Zing or OR breast fillet on a toasted sesame kaiser bun with lush lettuce and generous helping of deluxe BBQ sauce.

The only thing missing? a BBB dip I think.

I grabbed this on Tuesday before work and the wait was torturous, nearly 10 minutes, but I was rewarded with a small popcorn chicken for my trouble.

BBQ is always the dip I go for and I really quite enjoyed the Buffalo wrap TLO feat. BBQ sauce so I was pleased to see this offering appear. I have to admit to being more of a gravy man than a bean man so I opted for this as my side, and was well rewarded with a tasty steaming hot rich dark brown three step.

But enough of this gravy talk.

The Rod, as ever was tender although it seemed strange as the Zing was absent. These are truly mammoth chunks of Chicken however which present a real satisfying challenge for a man. The rod it seemed had been dunked in a vat of BBQ and was literally dripping. However those boffins at KFC HQ had planned it perfectly. The ratio of BBQ covered surface area to chicken was spot on, providing a great BBQ taste and satisfying Chickeny notes without being too sweet and cloying.

The main event

It looked great, the bread was just how I liked it, soft and a bit squashed, BBQ sauce oozed from the edges. The chicken when I took my first bite was firm against my bite but moist on the pallet.

With this TLO there were no surprises, does exactly what it says on the box.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

TLO Confusion

So, the question we've doubtless all been asking ourselves over the last couple of weeks:

"What's with the TLO? some branches have Boxmasters and others Hotrods"

KFB isn't complaining per-se, but we'd love to see both products on sale at all branches instead of seeing Hotrods at some and Boxmasters at others. Well, KFB has the answer direct from the chickens mouth:

“We’re unable to offer certain limited edition menu items in some stores due to our halal trial, and we’re sorry for any disappointment this may cause. We’ve made sure that all our halal restaurants are close to non-participating stores, where offers like the Boxmaster are available, and you can call our careline or check our website to find out which stores are participating in the trial.”

On the subject of Boxmasters, it seems KFB was overly harsh in its review. We have subsequently been seduced by expertly prepared Boxmasters that were hot, fresh and saucy enough to overcome the potential dryness. In fact, this reporter has been ordering Boxmasters over ZTs on a number of occasions.

Monday, 1 March 2010

KFC EGYPT.....1001 nights of Chicken

In our continuing quest to visit KFC's at the four corners of the world, I left this sceptered isle on a crusade to Arabia and visited KFC Egypt.

I had oft heard tell of crumbling ruins in the desert surrounded by wonders of the modern world, I had never really believed these tales to be true. The following video proves that they are.

I however, opted to try a city centre Cairo branch and so headed down town to Midan Tahrir. Here some of the cities busiest thoroughfares intersect at a large gyratory circus. The demand for Chicken was so overwhelming that this one intersection boasted not one, but two KFCs, which, if standing in the right place could be viewed simultaneously.
KFC was at once easy to spot. Its bright coloured bold frontage stood out proudly amongst other city frontages that seemed moribund when viewed against the vibrancy and pulsing energy that emanated from the KFC.
The clean modern exterior gave way to an equally impressive two tier seating area. I was assailed with that familiar and welcome smell and my stomach began to purr in anticipation of the epicurean delights that awaited it, what exotic treats would a menu crafted to cater for people inhabiting an entirely different continent from my own hold?

It gives me great pleasure to answer once again that the menu, although innovative still did not match up to the UK KFC menu. Yes my UK brethren and sistren, you are eating the worlds finest KFC.
Whilst the Egyptians had embrace Zing and employed it as an option in a number of their dishes they are yet to discover the hash brown. What they did offer was a mixture of the familiar wrap, the recently introduced 'Roller' the ex UK TLO Pannini and them some other products such as the KFC Filler and The Zinger Supreme.
What could it be other than the Zinger supreme? Two meals cost 47LE, equivalent to about 6GBP. The bun was rectangular and the chicken had been sliced at a 45 degree angle to allow the bun to better accommodate it. I was greeted with a delicious Zinger fillet and then something I was not expecting, something I have not seen since those halcyon days spent visiting KFCs across the length and breadth of Europe whilst in Prague. In a predominantly Muslim country the last thing I expected to find on my burger was smoked ham. But there it was bold as brass adding an excellent extra dimension to the burger.
It was refreshing to see such a pragmatic approach. Our own UK halal KFC's will not serve any bacon products in store. Here however the food was prepared and served to me by Muslims without an eyelid being batted, and it warmed my heart.
Unfortunately the burger itself was not a shining example of finely crafted fayre and the chicken was in this instance a little too dry with not enough sauce of any description to compensate. The salad however had not wilted in the heat and seemed lush and crispy whilst the bun was soft and tasty.
Egypt boast a couple of other things worthy of a mention, their excellent KFC delivery service (we can dream) and more interestingly the worlds first KFC run by the hearing impared. I was not lucky enough to visit this branch but thought it worth of a brief time in the limelight.
Overall the Egyptians need to be applauded for adopting KFC and have certainly had a good stab at it. KFB's best wishes are with them for all their endeavours in the future.