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.