Over the past year or so there has been an influx of restaurants catering to chicken aficionados. Whether it is a shift in eating habits or some other reason, wing joints and fried chicken restaurants are cropping up around the San Gabriel Valley.
Meanwhile, Morgan Spurlock is returning with a second “Supersize Me,” this time producing a documentary on the perils of the poultry industry, all the while Popeye’s is selling out of their new fried chicken sandwiches. America seems to be straved for chicken right now. So what better way to indulge that hunger than to visit The Chicken Koop, which truly lives up to its name from its West Main Street location in Alhambra.
Upon entering, I quickly surmised The Chicken Koop would be ideal as a weekend hangout, or a place to have a dinner on game night, or grab a beer with a co-worker, or enjoy a family lunch.
Upon entering, customers see a bar to the left, with a TV broadcasting a sports event. On Sunday, when I was there with a friend, the game between the LA Rams and the New Orleans Saints was on the tube. Groups of friends were gathered, either sitting or standing at the bar, drinking and watching the game, some wearing their Rams jerseys. The commotion, although welcomed, was restricted to that area, which was interesting. Not because there was any sort of signage to keep football watching and beer chugging limited to the bar, but because there seemed to be a clear division between that kind of somewhat rowdy environment and the other side of the restaurant.
While not too large, The Chicken Koop has ample space, and on the day I stopped by it was relatively busy. Still, we were seated immediately and even asked whether we were pleased with the booth available to us or wanted something else. Paintings and images of chickens and roosters lined the restaurant’s wall — one particularly angry rooster hung near the company’s logo at the back wall.
The Chicken Koop has found its specialty and taken it all the way home by offering chicken in just about any form one can imagine — sandwiches, wraps, salads, tacos, taquitos, teriyaki, roasted, fried, shredded, grilled; the list is endless. While some people need their red meat or pork, I am more than happy to go with chicken, so this was a good match for me.
To start with, we learned that they offer happy hour all day Sundays, as well as on Mondays and Wednesdays, so we opted for a happy hour appetizer. The chicken tinga empanadas ($4.99) were to die for. They come in a pair, each definitely large enough for one person to munch on, and is served with a green salsa. Chicken tinga traditionally has a kick to it, and these empanadas were no different. The dough was soft and flaky with sesame seeds on top, and the green salsa complimented it beautifully.
I had difficulty deciding but ultimately went with their roasted chicken plate ($11.99), which comes with sides depending on the portion ordered. It seemed like a no brainer to get the full experience of quality and taste by having the roasted chicken. I ordered the half white meat chicken in order to get two side orders — one upgraded to poutine for an additional charge, the other roasted corn. Other side options included macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. Naan bread was also served on the side, with a choice of two sauces. I went with more of the green salsa and chimichurri, specifically for the naan bread, which was delicious. The chicken was served in three pieces and was tender, juicy and slightly crisped on the outside. There was so much left over we had to take it home.
It’s important to note that after both my partner and I ordered, our food was ready and at our table within 15 minutes, something which pleasantly took us both aback, considering our orders would take longer to cook and prepare, or so we thought. My partner ordered the spicy fried chicken sandwich ($14.99), but before he could say another word our waiter gave him warning that the sandwich was really, really spicy. We asked how much so and he quickly replied “8 out of 10” which resulted in a quick change to the regular fried chicken sandwich. We found it funny, but also reassuring that staff (and our wonderful waiter in particular) cares that much about their patrons and ensuring they have a great experience.
Suffice to say, the sandwich was incredible, served with coleslaw, Chipotle, pickles, a side of garlic fries, and served on a Hawaiian bun. Even the fries were great, with enough spice to reassure us that we had made the right decision in not ordering the spicy chicken sandwich. Although The Chicken Koop does the classics incredibly well, they have a wide range of options, including chicken pozole, chicken teriyaki bowls, chicken tacos and chicken taquitos. Their menu also boasts weekend specials like chicken and waffles ($14.99) and lunch specials during the week.
If we weren’t so full we’d have stayed for more happy hour indulgence. Items on their appetizer menu are priced at $9.99 or less. They also have $5 and $6 bottled beers, $7 and $8 beers on tap, and cocktails for $10.
The Chicken Koop not only serves dinner and lunch, but is also a great place to enjoy being with friends, watching a game and downing some sliders and brews after work.