Fried chicken frenzy heats up in Edmonton as first Popeyes opens

The fried chicken at Northern Chicken (10704 124 St.) .
The fried chicken at Northern Chicken (10704 124 St.) . Credit: Northern Chicken Facebook

Albertans don’t have to travel to the deep south to get their fried chicken fix, as several restaurants serving up southern comfort food have opened in Edmonton recently.

Alberta’s first Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen opened in southeast Edmonton on Monday. The store is located at 3733 17 St. in the Tamarack area.

READ MORE: Is this KFC’s secret recipe? Col. Sanders’ nephew accidentally reveals list of 11 herbs and spices

The chain is the second-largest fast food fried chicken restaurant in the world, after KFC. Popeyes, which specializes in Louisiana-inspired fried chicken and seafood, is also opening a location in Calgary. More franchises will open in both cities by the end of 2017.

READ MORE: Like fried chicken? Popeyes to open restaurants in Edmonton and Calgary

Fried chicken seems to be the food trend of the year in Edmonton, judging from the number of local eateries that have opened recently.

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Every chef has their own secret recipe, but the general idea is to flour or batter pieces of chicken and then pan fry, deep fry, or pressure fry it.

The result? Juicy, decadent, definitely not diet-friendly deliciousness.

In the Global Kitchen with Northern Chicken
In the Global Kitchen with Northern Chicken

Northern Chicken (10704 124 St.) is the brainchild of local chefs Matt Phillips and Andrew Cowan. The duo have worked their way through several Edmonton kitchens for about a decade, largely under the Century Hospitality umbrella, and most recently held positions as executive chefs at LUX Steakhouse + Bar and Packrat Louie.

Cowan and Phillips held several pop-up shops over the summer to test out their concept, including sides like Doritos mac and cheese, coleslaw and pies, on chicken connoisseurs.

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They opened their bricks-and-mortar shop at the beginning of November in the trendy 124th Street area, where they plan to feature a range of options.

“We’re going to keep the sorta southern food idea there, but we’re going to be curing some hams and probably do some barbecue at some point,” Cowan explained to Kent Morrison on Global News Morning Weekend.

In the kitchen with Seoul Fried Chicken
In the kitchen with Seoul Fried Chicken

Then there’s Seoul Fried Chicken (7904 104 St) just south of Whyte Avenue. Owner Jake Lee opened the restaurant back in February and has already won a Golden Fork Award for best fried chicken.

Customers can pick from seven different chicken flavours, ranging from original crispy and BBQ to garlic soy and onion lover. The eatery offers Korean sides like kim chi, along with more traditional options like fries and corn fritters. Lee said the chicken is sourced from local Hutterites and other local farms.

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Lee said they break down a whole chicken into 20 pieces. “That’s going to give you two things: faster seasoning, faster brining, faster cooking as well. And then it’s going to give you more breading to chicken ratio,” he explained when appearing on Global News Morning Weekend earlier this year.

“More breading, more crunch, more flavour.”

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Lee said he opened the restaurant because he wanted to give Edmontonians new options.

Another Old Strathcona newcomer is Have Mercy (8232 Gateway Blvd.) Local chef Lindsay Porter opened the southern-inspired restaurant above her other eatery, El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar.

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When appearing on Global News Morning Weekend earlier his year, Porter said she went on a 10-day southern states food tour through Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee to learn new recipes and cooking techniques.

“We just wanted to get really authentic southern food, so we ate so much, “Porter said. “We went to some really … backroad places; we went to some really nice places as well.”

The restaurant offers a twist on the popular chicken and waffles trend, by offering up a fried chicken and spicy bourbon-glazed doughnuts dish.

“We just wanted to have a little fun.”

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