kruizing with kikukat

Monday, February 2, 2015

Almost Kay's Lunch Center: Fried Sesame Chicken

Perhaps it was blog reader BrendaC who is responsible for my wave of nostalgia.  Perhaps it could have been triggered by Kikukat Dad who said he had dinner at Restaurant Kenichi.  Perhaps I equate the Super Bowl with partying.  I don't know.  But whatever it was, I've been bitten by the nostalgia bug.

If you spent some time in Hilo during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, you likely had a meal at Kay's Lunch Center (today the location is occupied by Restaurant Kenichi).  Kay's Lunch Center served local, Japanese, and Korean foods.  They were best known for two things:  fried chicken and blueberry cream cheese pie.

The blueberry cream cheese pie was alright.  I'm really not a fan of that kind of thing.  I am usually put off by the icky gooey goop of canned pie filling.  And the cream cheese layer in a round pie just seemed too thick for the amount of topping.  You can have all the blueberry cream cheese pie you want.  I will pass.

It was the fried chicken that brought me back to Kay's Lunch Center time and time again.  Sometimes I would eat-in, but many times, I did the take-out...chicken in the cardboard box with the pointy lid.  I loved the mild shoyu-sugar flavor and the random sesame seeds strewn on the coating. 

Kay's Lunch Center closed up a few years ago.  As I was watching the Super Bowl yesterday, I couldn't help but think about all the parties missing the cardboard box with Kay's Lunch Center chicken.  I know I was missing it, especially since the Seahawks lost (No, I am not much of a Seahawks fan, but having lived in Seattle, I feel a little guilty if I don't cheer for them if they are not playing a team I like more).  So if you are like me and have a hankering for Kay's Lunch Center fried chicken, you can go ahead and make your own. 

Now I realize there are two divergent methods one might try for making the chicken.  I've seen recipes which call for flouring and frying the chicken and then dipping it into a sauce.  I call that "Korean Chicken", and I will share the recipe in a separate post.  But I never noticed any green onion bits on the Kay's version; I only noticed sesame seeds.  My method for making the Kay's Lunch Center chicken calls for marinating the chicken overnight and then frying it.  It seems to be less messy and more straightforward than the alternate method.

And if you happen to have leftover fried chicken, you can do what Kay's Lunch Center did. . .pull all the meat off the bones and use it to top a salad.   Mmmmmm.  

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     5 lbs chicken wings
     1 c cornstarch
     1/2 c flour
     1/2 c sugar
     1 tsp salt
     6 tbsp shoyu
     2 tsp oyster sauce
     4 eggs
     4 stalks green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
     2 garlic cloves, minced
     4 tbsp sesame seeds

Cut each chicken wing into 3 pieces (tip, flat, drummette).  Discard tips or save for stock.  Combine remaining ingredients and place in a ziploc bag.  Add chicken pieces.  Turn bag to coat evenly.  Allow to marinate overnight.  Deep fry wings until golden brown.

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