Thursday, 26 December 2013

KFB Asian Odyssey Part 2: Hong Kong

Japan: doneAnd so we move onto Hong Kong, city of skyscrapers, £6.50 pints and go-go bars. As suspected the menu in Hong Kong centres around various shades of chicken on the bone, some regional specialities and a
smattering of KFC standard menu items thrown in for good measure. Check out the full menu (including some interesting sounding rice dishes) here.

We opted for Zinger Burger meals, one with waffle fries and the other with mushroom rice covered in what looked like gravy. For good measure we added a piece of Flava Crava chicken (with a name like that how could we resist?) and a couple of egg tarts - a very popular sweet snack in HK.

First up: the burger. As you can see, construction was poor and the Zinger looked as though it might topple over at any moment. Inside we found a large tomato wedge, lettuce and a mayonnaise not unlike that of the Supercharger. The chicken itself was thigh meat - something we've experienced before in Thailand

This time though it hadn't been formed into such a uniform patty which on the plus side meant more coating seemed to cling to the meat. Sadly it also affected the consistency of taste of each bite - not that there was a lot of taste to be had. Sadly the tomato was so thick it dominated the burger and without cheese or a hash brown to balance the flavours we found this Zinger sorely lacking and totally devoid of zing.

In terms of the sides, we found the waffle fries luke warm and disappointing. Talking of disappointing, imagine our horror when we realised the sauce in the mushroom rice was pepper sauce rather than gravy. We moved on to the Flava Crava - one of a range of different chicken options which also included a dubious sounding Italian pizza
coating. The chicken was roasted rather than fried which we assume was meant to represent a healthier option. The flavour was decent enough but it didn't leave us craving more.

Some salvation was to be found in the egg tarts which while dripping in grease turned out to be tasty and a good way to finish an otherwise disappointing meal, regardless of the relatively low cost (around £3.20 for the burger meal).

Taste: 3.5
Value: 5
Overall: 4

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

TLO Review - KFC Trilogy Box Meal - Burslem

KFC's latest TLO and the one that will be here over the festive period - the 'Trilogy Box Meal' - bills itself as a gift to oneself, better if price-wise it were more of a gift from KFC. At £5.99 this is a costly meal matched only by the Big Daddy, tower up and you're at £6.49.

That said, this is a generous portion of delicious boneless chicken -

Whose constituent parts separately cost well over its total. This contains all of the standard 'Box Meal' constituents plus a very generous 'extra' item... a small Popcorn Chicken.

Something seems to have gone wrong in marketing department however as the promotional literature (shown below lists the veritable cornucopia of solid food items before reserving its attention grabbing capitalized 'AND' to inform the reader that they're being given a drink.... whoop de do.... as far as I'm aware that's always been an unremarkable part of any meal.

The second aspect that confuses me somewhat is the nomenclature of this particular Time Limited Offer. Whilst I get the trilogy being reference to the three pieces of chicken, it feels like there should be something deeper. It almost feels like it should be a film tie in with a name like that. Whilst chicken doesn't feature heavily in the diet at this time of year and Nativity scenes aren't often replete with poultry... surely there's a gag in here about the three wise hen?

I tried this meal at around 7:42pm on Friday 6th of December at Burslem branch in Stoke-on-Trent. The branch was quiet when I went in. Immediately I began to regret my decision with such slow turnover the product was bound to long out of the fryer and past its best. Past the point of no return I wen't ahead and ordered. Service was efficient without being quick.

Upon receiving my meal I took it to a bar type seating area and assessed. Upon de-lidding my gravy I was greeted with one of the best looking 3-step gravies I have ever borne witness too, could this be the one redeeming feature of the food having sat for so long, a gravy that had been stewing in it's own juices for so long it had reached some kind of gravy Nirvana?

Upon eating my first chip all of my fears were realised, it was appalling. Had any more of them been like that I would have had to complain.

However it was at this point that a Christmas miracle began to unfold. That one rogue chip must have escaped the scoop for hours because after that the chips became good and the chicken even better. What I had suspected would be a dry, lifeless and only warmish rather than a hot meal was in-fact incredible.

I ate it all, drank the remaining gravy and true to the old saying had to lick both thumbs and all eight fingers clean. Burslem branch.... almost full marks except for that one cold and cardboard chip - and something that's troubling me more and more lately- the inability to offer me the dip that's clearly included in my meal. I had to ask.

This was undoubtedly a simple meal done well, nothing extra for staff to learn at this busy time of year and the idea of treating yourself to that bit extra at this time of year is fine. Technically this is a new TLO but there's nothing original about it, and although almost perfectly executed I can only give this meal 3 colonels out of 5.

Merry Chickmas from all of us at KFB

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

KFC Mongolia

2013 was a momentus year for the 2.7 Million Mongolians on this planet, for they were endowed the special honour of being the 120th country to host a KFC restaurant.

The first branch of the planned four in the capital Ulan Bator opened a stones throw from the central square in summer this year amid riotous scenes, where crowds of hungry would be diners mobbed the single entrance to the modern restaurant:

KFB gave the store a few months to deal with the inevitable teething problems such a stretched supply chain would bring and headed over there in September to check it out.

The store itself was large and modern and apart from some of the localised livery using the cyrillic alphabet there was no indication that you're in central Asia. The tables, chairs, tiles and lighting etc all conformed to the current YUM brands spec.

The restaurant was doing a brisk business with many well heeled Mongolians enjoying dining out at a fancy foreign restaurant. They operated a system whereby you placed your order at one till, took a numbered receipt and waited at another counter for your order to be prepared and handed over. A large plasma screen allowed you to see which numbered order was ready.

The queue to order moved swiftly, and no sooner had we tried to utter our first apologetic sounding 'Do you speak English' our server, no doubt alerted by our clothes and skin tone flipped over the counter top menu card to reveal and English language version of the menu.... a nice touch I thought.
With a favourable exchange rate of 2500 Mongolian Tugruks to the pound a basic meal came in at about £3. whilst not cheap by Mongolian standards this is one of the cheaper KFC's KFB has enjoyed in the world.

However, that was where the so far great experience began to falter. After an efficient order process we were confronted with a wait of 15-20 minutes before our order was ready. I am prepared to concede that the idea of fast food being a new concept in Mongolia (remember there are no McDonalds) could be responsible for what we perceived to be slow service but the frequent glances at watches by other hungry patrons inclines me otherwise.

The menu was fairly limited so we opted for a pair of Zinger Burgers which came in packaging much less red and minimalist that its European counterparts and still sporting the 'Finger Lickin' Good' slogan. When our food was eventually prepared we tucked in enthusiastically, only to be greeted by disappointment.

The burger was formed from various cuts of chicken meat and not a whole fillet. Despite the busyness of the restaurant, nothing really seemed hot and fresh.

Had I been served this elsewhere in the world I'd have been seriously disappointed, however when location is taken into mind with this branch being many hundreds of miles (which in this part of the world means over 24hrs hrs travel time) from its neighbour thus causing supply issues, and the fact that many of the staff will never have eaten a KFC and be unaware of what a really good one is like I have to conclude that this was a reasonable attempt.... albeit one with much room for improvement.

Friday, 29 November 2013

KFChristmas: the taste that unites

We know, we know, it's not even December yet. But we wanted to let you know about the new KFC Xmas ad - a beautiful, moving tribute to the love of chicken, put to music. Check it out for yourself below then head here to take part in a competition to be featured in the next TV ad during the X-Factor final (ok, so the last part doesn't sound so cool).

Thursday, 28 November 2013

KFC Russia

Question: When is a KFC not a KFC?

Answer: When it's in Russia and in a partnership with local restaurant chain called Rostik's, thereby relegating the famous acronym to the end of the name and usurping the Colonel with, of all things, a figurehead who is a Chicken.

With Russia being an alien market to US based Yum brands they entered into a partnership with Rostik's who were familiar with business practices and legal issues in Russia, allowing the chain to expand rapidly with a minimum of bureaucracy.

I am however glad to inform you, that this is mostly in the past and thankfully the colonel is back where he belongs ruling the roost so to speak. Having completed a friendly takeover  all of the 164 Rostik's - KFC are being re-branded as simply, KFC a process that was scheduled for completion mid 2012.

To find out how KFC is standing on it's own two legs and managing in Russia now it's put all of its eggs into one basket, KFB visited Moscow.

With Over 80 locations in the city, I had assumed it would be easy to spot a branch without research. It wasn't as easy as I had presumed, but we did eventually find one a stone's throw from the Kremlin and Red Square although buried in a subterranean shopping centre so not immediately apparent.

The unit itself was nothing to look at, being similar in every respect to many mall based branches found throughout the world. The menu too closely mirrored the fayre that can be found throughout Western Europe. However, where they have localized their product offering was the use of the Cyrillic alphabet on Menu's and packaging featuring Fillet Burgers, Twisters, Box Master's but sadly no 'Towers'.

Opting for a Box Master and something we'd not seen before, a 'Bigger' burger we tucked in:

 The Box Master is was a carbon copy of one you might have got elsewhere in Europe whilst the 'Bigger' burger conjured up images of the Big Daddy and was a as a result somewhat disappointing:

Fashioned with only 2 mini fillets, some cheese and a splodge of mayonnaise its only saving grace was its final ingredient, the liberal use of fresh cut tomato, yet even this couldn't save it from mediocrity.

Pricewise...... Whilst Moscow itself is not a cheap city, visitors from the UK and western Europe should notice the price of a meal to be £\€1 cheaper than back home and the quality good. a burger consists of good quality white meat and your meal can be enjoyed with a beer.

KFB enjoyed their trip to Russia, and although not blown away by what they found, this was a solid offering and with the food in Russia generally dismal... KFC here has a bright future.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Kentucky Fried Candles

Sometimes a product comes along that's just so ingenious, so fantastical and so downright obvious that you wonder how nobody has ever thought of it before. One such product arrived this week in the form of fried chicken scented candles. Made by a company called Kentucky for Kentucky, the candles promise to 'Let the fresh, fried sizzle of savory golden goodness drift into your hearts and homes with one of our most delectable creations to date.'

Made by a lady called Kathy Werking (presumably some kind of relative of the Colonel himself), we found the following explanation of the manufacturing process: 

"To make these candles, she fries chicken in all-natural soy wax and adds an infusion of family secrets"

Note of course that she uses family secrets rather than explicitly listing the presence of the fabled 11 secret herbs & spices. However if our theory about her being a relative to the Colonel is correct, she may well have access to the treasured information.

The candles cost $22 dollars and are available here. But hurry, they're only making 25 and obviously, we've already purchased 24. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

KFB Asian Odyssey Part 1: Japan

As you'll have realised from our previous coverage of Thailand,
America, China, New Zealand, Germany and a whole lot more, here at KFB we like
nothing better than to explore the offerings of different KFCs around
the world. With that in mind we set off on a 3 month tour of
Asia to report back on how the Colonel goes about his business on the
other side of the globe. First up: Japan.

Having eaten enough raw fish in Tokyo to bore even a penguin we were
almost at the end of our collective tether. And then a moment of
divine inspiration - what should whizz past us on the street but a KFC
delivery moped. Yes you read that right: delivery. There was only one
thing for it: time to order some take out. Unfortunately the fact that
we don't speak a word of Japanese made this slightly troubling and we
settled for finding the nearest outlet in the Ginza district.

Much like Thai KFCs, Sanders stands proudly outside most branches in
Japan. Rather than adopting the thai 'prayer' greeting though, here he
has his arms outstretched as if to say "Where in God's name am I?".

We walked into a very small branch and began to peruse the menu. Not
being able to read anything meant we ordered the burger that most
closely represented the Zinger Tower. First impression: small. Smaller
than a regular meal in the UK that's for sure. For only 500¥ (£3.40
ish) though we weren't about to complain.

As you may be able to tell from the above photo, the fries here are
very chunky. This is especially interesting given the rent decision in
the UK to thin out the fries to make them more McDonalds like. We're
glad to report however that they were hot, crunchy and delicious.

And so the main event: the mystery burger. Again smaller than a
typical UK Fillet Burger (a Japanese version of which did seem to be
on the menu), we were slightly alarmed at the orange glow of the
coating which didn't seem to be original recipe.

Here's what we think was inside: normal KFC cheese, mustard/wasabi
mayo, spicy salsa and raw onion slices. The latter in fact turned out
to be a real highlight, complimenting the moist chicken very well and
adding a new depth of flavour to the burger. Another new element was
the bun which looked and tasted like the 50/50 style white/wholemeal
bread you can buy back home. An excellent decision from the Colonel
here as full on wholemeal would undoubtedly have overpowered the
carefully balanced other flavours.

Overall we very much enjoyed our meal but would make one suggestion:
add a hash brown - always a winner.

Taste: 6.5
Value: 7
Overall: 7.5

Oh and one more thing: on the way out we noticed these bizarre
leaflets. If anyone can translate do let us know. We assume it's
perhaps a recipe you can make using the chicken from KFC - we
certainly didn't see anything like this on the menu.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

TLO Review - KFC Scorcher Box Meal - Festival Heights

I knew it was about time for a new Time Limited Offer (TLO), you can always tell by the smiles on people's faces as you pass them in the street. My sense was correct, for mere days later an advertising hoarding I frequently amble past on my way into the office was advertising this:

Regular readers are aware that the KFB staff have a particular penchant  for the Zinger Tower so our interest was piqued by a TLO that seeks to enhance one of the two tenets.... No tower, but a hell of a lot of Zing!

The KFB team also believe this is the Colonel's first flirtation with Peri Peri, a longtime Nando's mainstay.

Before I got too carried away I had to temper my enthusiasm, as much as hard core spice lovers would like to see a sauce made of Scotch Bonnets this is supposed to be a mass market product catering to the varied palettes of millions; so whilst I could expect a kick, I wasn't anticipating anything too overwhelming in the spice department.

Following the usual format of other box meals this incorporates fries, drink, side (always gravy) and ancillary chicken product. In this case that is boneless Hot Shots, a nice touch I thought because:

A, I don't like chicken on the bone.
B, Hot wings would have worked very with this.

However on top of that (does the Colonel's generosity know no bounds) a pot of delicious Sauce 2Hot4U to be slathered as the diner sees fit over fries, hot shots and even burger alike.

First Look:
Good - Nice box (added to the KFB - KFC product packaging archive) and truly first rate 3 step gravy. However you'll notice that service was sloppy, I wasn't given my drink or sauce 2Hot4U and had to go back and ask for it. Additionally they only had 2 of my 3 Hot Shots ready and brought the 3rd over a few minutes later. I'll let them off though - it was delicious.

By the time I got round to the burger it had 'rested' for a couple of minutes which can often be a boon as the steam and other vapours escaping the chicken penetrate the bun, both softening and warming it, improving its overall integrity and preventing it breaking apart mid burger.

Immediately it looked well made, although upon closer inspection and comparison against the advertising picture it was topsy turvy. The chicken breast should be nestled in a bed of Supercharger Sauce and topped with Peri Peri Relish. This burger was the opposite, although I cannot comment on whether it suffered as a result.

The burger itself was exquisite, hot and juicy chicken (which is harder to achieve for a Zinger breast) with nearly the perfect quantities of sauce top and bottom, although just a tad more Peri Peri relish wouldn't have gone amiss.

And the much anticipated spice? I think they'd got it about right. Instead of a deliberately hot sauce that immediately sets the taste buds aflame and prevents you from really enjoying your food, this was a fragrant fruity spice which leaves a satisfying heat in the mouth at the end of the last bite.

For £5.69 this is a good feed, filling you up without overfacing you. It's nice to see a truly brand new product incorporating some new ingredients, and apart from a couple of scruples with the service.... this probably deserves:

 4 Colonels out of 5

Monday, 14 October 2013

KFC Romania

Usually when KFB visits foreign shores in order to sample KFC's offerings the world over, some serious research needs to be done before the trip to pinpoint the often obscure; exact location of the few branches that exist in some of these places. Not so in the Romanian capital, Bucharest where KFC's abound.

In walking around this city for a couple of days without even trying, I stumbled upon at least 6 different branches. Unfortunately time was limited and I wasn't able to sample each one so I checked out this modern branch In Bucharest's not so modern main rail station the Gara de Nord.

As you can see from a closer look at the menu above it's fairly similar to that offered in Western Europe with even the brazer having made an appearance.

However in an effort to expand my horizons I opted to try a 'Booster' a double layered burger with two slices of cheese, an agreeable sauce and interestingly something we've not seen in the UK at KFC, but long a McDonalds mainstay..... the slices of pickle.

As regular readers may be aware, I'm quite picky when it comes to my chicken, opting to stick firmly to white breast meat. This is something you're assured of when ordering a burger in the UK, however at the periphery of civilization this is not something you can take for granted. Upon biting into the 'Booster' I soon discovered that the 'Chicken Patty' was formed from pieces of brown meat. Yes, I get the arguments, it's tastier, juicer etc but try as I might, it's not for me. I soldiered on, noting the tasty if indescribable flavour of the sauce and finding the pickles surprisingly worked quite well.

However, the most civilized thing about the whole meal and especially pleasing at ten past two of an afternoon.... the chance to wash it all down with a delicious chilled beer.... Very agreeable!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The lengths people will go to to get KFC!

A great story published recently by the Guardian newspaper:

KFC Croatia

Wracked by a brutal civil war less that 20 years ago, Croatia is slowly finding its feet. It's popularity amongst tourists grows year on year, yet one thing that hasn't developed at the speed the people would like is the number of KFC outlets in the country.

At the time of KFB's visit, this country of 4.2 million people all had to share just 1 KFC! To put this staggering fact into perspective, that's like us here in the UK having only 14 KFC's (thankfully we have closer to 800).

Things are however moving in the right direction with a further 2 branches having opened although still all in and around  the capital, Zagreb.

The country itself is oddly shaped, with Zagreb in the north whilst some of the nations other largest cities Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik are all on the coast to the south. Some people would have to drive 375 miles to their closest branch, (and I moan about 10 miles).

The first branch, and one that KFB visited was in the Arena Centar, a few miles south of the city centre and  less than one year old when we visited.

The branch was obviously very recently built and so well appointed on a par with other western European outlets. Sadly as you may see from the picture it shared space in the food court with a McDonalds

We opted for an Impressively named 'Grander' Burger that KFB have sampled in the past, and whilst it was good, it was clear that this was a country still learning how to produce the very best that the colonel has to offer (something which I'm always very happy to say, the UK has gone a long way towards achieving.)

The grander itself was a fillet, mayo, lettuce and toasted bun

Essentially this was a good effort and with the news that two further branches have opened in recent months, a sure sign of strides in the right direction!

And in case you were wondering, lack of KFC on a country can have serious effects on the population, in  the town of Mostar in next door Bosnia, a country still not home to a single KFC, people were literally throwing themselves off bridges in depair!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

London's trendy chicken offerings vs. The Colonel: an epic battle

First burritos, then burgers, now...fried chicken. Yes folks, fried chicken is indeed the latest craze in trend-loving London town. Over the past 6 months we've watched with interest as a number of fowl establishments have popped up in various guises across our capital. 

Here at KFB we felt it was important that we tried as many of these offerings as possible in order to answer for our readers the ultimate question: can anyone do fried chicken as well as the Colonel? Here's how we judged - each venue is scored against 2 simple criteria: taste and value. All orders were compared to the equivalent offering at KFC - chicken burgers vs. Fillet Tower burger, classic fried chicken vs. Original Recipe chicken pieces and so on. Here's how they stacked up.

Rita's, Dalston

While they serve a variety of different American style dishes we were only here for one thing: the much lauded fried chicken sandwich. Famous food critic Jay Rayner had this to say about it:

“Rita’s Bar and Dining in Dalston is a serious piece of work. This will probably be the best fried chicken you’ve ever had.”

Bold claims indeed, Mr Rayner and not entirely unfounded. The chicken was indeed very tasty and incredibly crunchy, even giving Extra Tasty Crispy treats from the Colonel a run for their money. Ultimately though at £6.50 a pop it just can't hope to stack up to it's larger, more cheese and hash brown laden brethren - the Fillet Tower.

Taste: 4/5

Value: 3/5

Does it beat the Colonel? No

Big thanks to WhatJoannaAte for the pic.

Spit & Roast, food stall

We encountered these folks at a street food market in Dalston (we don't hang out there every day, honest). They were serving a buttermilk fried chicken burger with Korean sauce. Given that we had a slider, the closest comparison would be a Mini Fillet. And while the sauce was very interesting (and quite spicy), the mini burger cost about £3 (nearly triple the cost of the Mini FIllet). Still, a tastily different take on fried chicken.

Taste: 3.5/5

Value: 2.5/5

Does it beat the Colonel? No

Roost, Soho pop up
Operating out of a Soho pub's kitchen for a couple of months, Roost offered a wide range of chicken-based dishes. Clearly though it was the fried chicken that we had to sample. We opted for an off-menu buttermilk fried chicken burger with chorizo and aioli. While delicious and the coating very crispy, the combination of the two accompanying strong flavours was perhaps a bit much. We would however like to see the Colonel experiment with chorizo as an alternative to the usual bacon.

Taste: 3.5/5

Value: 3/5

Does it beat the Colonel? No

Wishbone, Brixton

If you follow the UK fast food scene you'll have no doubt heard of MeatLiquor - the restaurant (and travelling van before it) that could well be credited with kick-starting London's renewed interest in pimped-up fast food. Imagine our excitement then when we heard that some of the people involved were opening a chicken only shop in South London's Brixton village market. Then imagine our disappointment when we arrived only to find extremely cramped 'tables' (shelves sticking out of the walls) and sub par fries that tasted as if they'd come straight out of a freezer via an ALDI. The chicken didn't fare much better - we sampled the Thai and Buffalo thigh nuggets, both of which came in very vinegary sauces that went soggy all too quickly. Colour us disappointed.

Taste: 2/5

Value: 3/5

Does it beat the Colonel? No

Mother Clucker Soho pop up

In similar vein to Roost, these chaps are currently appearing at a Soho pub (the Endurance on Berwick St). The menu is a fairly sparse affair - we opted for the combo that included a buttermilk biscuit, some 'Cluster Clucks' which were similar to popcorn chicken, a drumstick and some waffle fries. As intriguing as they sound, waffle fries essentially equate to crisps and weren't particularly interesting. Better was the chicken - the popcorn style bites were the real winners - tasty and crunchy in equal measure. At £7.50 it did offer good value - though with a box meal at the Colonel offering a similar quantity of food at £2 or so less, they were never going to win out on the money front. Oh and the biggest disappointment - the lack of gravy. As all chicken fans know, a tub of lubricant to help the fowl slide down is essential.

Taste: 3.5/5

Value: 3.5/5

Does it beat the Colonel? No

Lucky Fried Chicken, Kentish Town pop up

Pop up. Pub. You may have spotted a bit of a theme here. The chaps who have in this blogger's opinion crafted London's best burger (check out were doing a residency above a pub in North London that has now sadly come to an end. First to draw our attention was the familiar effigy and tagline in use. Sacrilegious on the one hand, inspired on the other - we'll let you decide.

Between 4 of us we opted for 2 Jumbo boxes and a couple of fries and coleslaws for good measure. As it turns out this was a bountiful bevy of food. And oh what food it was. First off we sampled the coating. Though not hugely crunchy it was bursting with flavour. We're not sure what herbs and spices they were using (and certainly not the same as in Original Recipe) but damn, that was some serious taste. Then onto the chicken itself - we can safely say we've never before sampled chicken as juicy as this. In fact, we'd struggle to think of any kind of meat we've ever sampled anywhere that was this juicy. Much like the Colonel, though the sides were tasty, the chicken was absolutely the star of the show. And between the four of us, the meal came in well under £10 each, not including beer.

Is it wrong to say that we've found chicken better than that at KFC? Quite possibly. Is it true? 3 of our team sampled the chicken and in our expert opinions, we'd have to say yes. Now remember that this was a tiny pop up above a pub, not a huge international chain. And that it did indeed cost more than the equivalent at KFC. But we've got to hand it to them, the folks at LFC certainly know what they're doing. Colonel - we hope you're watching.

Taste: 5/5

Value: 4.5/5

Does it beat the Colonel? Yes, yes it does.