In the past few months, new takes on junk food have been popping up around San Francisco, including ramen chicken wings, buffalo chicken donuts, and Girl Scout cookie cocktails, each one just toeing the line between mouth watering and way too much. And soon to join the roster of this new wave of artisanal junk food is chocolate fried chicken. Yep, that’s right, chocolate fried chicken. No one would argue against the two foods separately, but together? According to Adam Fleischman, the mastermind behind LA-based Umami Burger, it might be just weird enough to work.
The aptly named ChocoChicken, Fleischman’s latest project, is a “fast casual restaurant” set to open in downtown Los Angeles sometime this month and will focus on serving a re-imagined version of the classic American comfort food. “ChocoChicken is completely different than anything else out there,” says Fleischman in a January press release. “This isn’t mole, traditional fried chicken, or even chicken just dipped in chocolate. It is a whole new style of fried chicken that you just have to taste to believe.”
ChocoChicken “uses chocolate kind of like an umami ingredient to enhance and make the chicken more savory,” says Fleischman. “You bite into it and it's crazy juicy, not dried out. We have a brining process that we do for a day. The outside is really dark because of the chocolate. It plays with your mind, because you think it's going taste one way, but then you bite into it and you're like, 'Wow, this is so different from what I thought it would be – but really delicious.' It just tastes like happiness.”
For now, ChocoChicken’s debut will only be in Los Angeles, but like Umami Burger, which has two locations in San Francisco, one in Oakland, and one in Palo Alto, Fleischman’s PR people told me that the chain will likely expand up into Northern California sooner rather than later.
Fleischman isn’t, of course, the first in California to combine unexpected flavors. Dynamo Donuts wowed us with molasses Guinness donuts, Humphry Slocombe put booze in ice cream, and around the country, more than one chef put bacon in everything from jam to dates to chocolate. The pairing of the high- and the low-brow – Maverick’s wine and junk food pairings, or Hapa Ramen’s cheeseburger ramen, for example – has been around for a few years, and the flavor combinations have been weirder and more outrageous as more chefs and restaurants get in on the trend. In a world where beer-flavored ice cream is the norm, is pairing chocolate and chicken what it takes to get any attention?
Regardless of the answer to that question, I’m all for the continuing innovation. It’s not boring, that’s for sure.