Japanese Fried Chicken and Punk Rock At An Oakland Pop-Up — Dining on a Dime


– We are going through
Downtown Oakland, California just west of Lake Merritt on our way to what is self-described
as a permanent pop-up. A place called Abura-ya Fried Chicken. Which shows up evenings, I believe, Wednesday through the weekend. And what it specializes in is, tori no kara-age, Japanese fried chicken. Now, Japanese fried chicken
is a little bit different from what you and I might
ordinarily associate with a fried chicken in the United States. The very crusty, breading
heavy fried chicken that we know and love. Granted, because we
all love fried chicken. It is done commonly in Japan in izakayas, which are drinking
establishments where they, also, serve food that you can eat. (punk rock music) – Hello.
– Hi, how’s it going? – Hi, I’m fine. How are you? – I’m great, can I have
a name for your order? – Lucas. – Lucas, are you ordering
for here or to-go? – I’m gonna eat it here. – Awesome. What can I do for you tonight, Lucas? – I’m gonna get an eight piece. Can you educate me a little
bit about these seasoning? – My favorite go-to is the BBQ. It goes the best with
our homemade miso ranch that already comes with your chicken. – Let’s do that, I am in your hands. – Anything else? – Yeah, I’d like to try the seaweed salad. – Awesome. – And then, maybe, one more thing. Just straight up fried avocado. Is that pretty good? – It’s good. – Yeah, let’s try that too. – Okay. – And then that’ll be more than enough. – Awesome, let’s just add you up and we can have you on your way. – If you were an animal,
what animal would you be? – I would probably be a cat. (rock music) – Well now, sushi’s all over the place. – Right. – So, I wanted to do something different. – We even have a hashtag
on our Instagram photo. That’s #wedonthavesushi. – It’s not sushi.
– Yeah. – Can we make it easier for the people to understand what it
is and can be popular. Fried chicken, bam!
(laughs) Everybody loves fried chicken. – Everybody loves fried chicken. – So, I use this little
fermented rice mixture called shio koji so
that tenderize the meat. – Any mirin or sake or– – Mirin has lots of sugar. And most of the mirin made in the United States has corn syrup. – Corn syrup, okay.
– Corn syrup. – Touching on the healthy part, the chicken even though it’s super crispy, isn’t breaded so that’s part of why it is, also, healthier than most fried chicken. – Okay, so it doesn’t have
that heavy breading but it’s just a little bit of
potato starches in their right? – Yes.
– Yeah. – Well, this is super cool and I wanna eat some chicken. (rock music) Here we are. We have fried chicken and more. Does everyone love seaweed salad? Maybe. Let’s get in here and see what we’ve got. I love a good seaweed salad. This is nice. Really incorporating the salad
portion into the seaweed. So, what’s nice about the seaweed, it kind of pops in your mouth, you know? They’re kinda juicy, little
plump, little things. When you bite them, it really, there’s really a lot of flavor in the seaweed that I really like. It has that, kind of,
brininess of the ocean and like a pleasingly slimy texture. So, I enjoy seaweed salad a lot. Fried avocado. Half of an avocado,
obviously, that has been emptied out, covered in panko breadcrumbs, deep fried, and then filled
with, what appears to be, like a kewpie mayo. I’m gonna dip this chunk. This avocado is great. Nice and crispy on the outside
from the breading coating. It has that smooth, creamy avocado, on the inside, of course. Very well done, not overly fried. It just looks like it’s
flash-fried, real quick. Like, you would fry ice
cream or something like that. And then the, sort of,
creamy citrus-y kewpie mayo. It tastes like kewpie mayo
that’s had orange zest or something added to it. It’s nice. Kewpie mayo, for those of you
who don’t know, is MSG mayo. MSG, eat it! I’ve spent a lot of time
talking about these appetizers. We haven’t even gotten
onto the fried chicken which is what we’re here for. So, let’s do that right now. Half of it is, sort of, a
Japanese take on a BBQ sauce. Maybe with a little more soy sauce, maybe a little bit of sriracha. On the other side is
more of a dry seasoning. A little bit of nori, a
little bit of orange zest, a little bit of ginger, a
little bit of chili pepper. Tori no kara-age, which
is how I think how you say chicken, fried chicken in Japanese. It’s a very light fry. He talked about it being “healthy.” I don’t know how healthy
it is but it might be, in fact, a good deal more healthy than fried chicken that
has heavy breading. Which is traditionally what
we think of when we have fried chicken in the United States. And he said he doesn’t
really use a marinade. Which is also, sort of, unique
with Japanese fried chicken because typically, with
the Japanese fried chicken, you’d expect five pieces, which
we have, but then it would be marinaded in mirin,
which is a rice wine, sake, sugar, ginger,
garlic, salt, and pepper. But he says he doesn’t
do the marinade because he thinks there’s too much sugar in the mirin and in the sake. I believe he said that
he does a shio koji. If you’ve had miso soup,
if you’ve had soy sauce, if you’ve had sake, you’ve had koji. And koji is the mold aspergillus oryzae, forgive me if I’m not
getting the Latin right, and what it does is it adds savory depth of flavor to many foods. Again, the word umami is
commonly used to describe the flavor that koji adds to food. Very tender. The thigh is very juicy. The sauce is sweet. It tastes, in some ways, like a BBQ sauce but it has a little more spice to it. And it tastes like,
maybe, it has a little, like, a little bit of sriracha. That kind of heat to it. You can, sort of, taste the citrus zest on the outside of it. Sort of the juicy, chicken-ness
of this second option comes through a little more because it’s not covered in sauce. You’ve got garlic,
you’ve got chili flakes, you’ve got a little bit of that
citrus zest on the outside. And then, just like a hint of a coating on the outside of this chicken. It allows the chicken,
really, to sing, as it were because you’re not taking a bite and getting a mouthful of breading. And you can see it, you can
see the chicken very clearly. It’s a very, very light
coating of potato starch. This is a really cool
place to eat and to drink. It seems like it attracts a lot of locals. You know, I get the
impression the people here didn’t think they’d have
this kind of success. Which is always nice
when people don’t go out searching for accolades
and money and success and then they, kind of, stumble upon it just because they’re
making a good product. I really hope you enjoyed this episode of Dining on a Dime from Abura-ya Fried Chicken
in Oakland, California. And if you’d like to watch
more, please click here.

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