We’ve explored our city’s fascination with chicken and waffles before. The Southern comfort specialty, popularized with a Presidential seal at Roscoe’s, has risen to the status of a famous riff for contemporary chefs and popular labels, making it on to the menu at Bouchon, placed into a panini at Surf City’s Zimzala and sandwiches at The Six, and seeping into a most-disturbing cocktail serum made by Torani. Now comes Starry Kitchen’s turn.
The Downtown restaurant, currently operating out of Tiara Cafe, will debut its own fried chicken and waffles Wednesdays starting tonight. Thi Tran is putting a Southeast twist on the recipe, with a Hump Week menu featuring a limited quantity of Southeast Aisan sweet chili-brined fried chicken in a Chinese chicken pepper gravy, served with pandan Belgian waffles with cocoknut kaya sauce, an Asian sesame slaw, and garlic frieds made with Okinawan sweet potatoes. A cucumber mint agua fresca will be on hand to go with the dish, which is served for $16 per person, or $32 for a family-style meal for two.
The chef has been cooking a Malaysian chicken curry pot pie for the last few weeks, and decided that she wouldn’t try and compete with Spice Table, M.B. post, or The Hart & Hunter’s biscuits, going to waffles instead. Tran and her owner-husband Nguyen have been “trying to tackle a fun fried chicken night for years,” while Thi has also been playing with a recipe for pandan waffles for a while.
Nguyen tells Grub Street of the decision, “We’re American, we love fried chicken, we love waffles, and my chef-wife makes Asian comfort food. So why not create a tasty bastard child of the things we love?”
He says that Starry will only have a limited supply and encourages reservations to get a bite. On the plus side, the restaurant may be so focused on pushing the new special, that it might be the best time to come in for Thi’s elusive Singaporean chili crab.