Chicken Warriors, which opened in November a mile north of Carrollton’s Koreatown hub, is to your standard fried chicken joint what the NBA Slam Dunk Contest is to regular basketball. Instead of playing by the usual rules, scoring points on things like juiciness and salt, Chicken Warriors wheels out props, does spin moves, and leaps over its rivals’ heads on the way to the net.
There are five varieties of spicy chicken alone. There is a chicken fried and served whole—yes, whole. There is a stew topped with an egg that has been dressed to look like a little chicken, sitting in a bird’s nest of green onions.
And, yes, like a dunk contest, Chicken Warriors has props. Ice buckets sit on each table, containing not bottles of champagne but rubber chickens that squawk if you squeeze them. (It’s a good way of getting the attention of your servers—and other customers.)
We debated all the spicy options before choosing K-Boom Pepper, a sauce based on gochujang, Korea’s signature fermented pepper paste. Our tray arrived looking like a TV crime scene, with the dark red pepper sauce pooling underneath the chicken. This is a sneaky heat. First I thought my drumstick was pleasantly warming, a gentle burn, nothing a well-raised Texan couldn’t handle. Then the spice built on the backend, even after I’d swallowed.
And then I made a rookie mistake. I started on a second piece. That late-breaking crescendo of heat was still building, and eating more hot chicken was like squirting lighter fluid on a fire. Within minutes, I was wiping tears from my eyes.
There is a simple solution to spice overload: order two kinds of chicken and alternate between them. If you need a boldly sweet pairing to your spicy order, go for honey garlic. For me, soy garlic is an even better counterpoint: mildly sweet, but with a wonderful savory-salty baseline. Once I started alternating flavors, I stacked a plate with the bones.
Chicken Warriors uses pretty much everything except the beak and the feet. You’ll gnaw around ribcages and spinal columns. Sometimes, a piece will consist of bones only, and you’ll be left sucking K-Boom sauce off a nub. Breasts are chopped into equal-sized smaller parts, many bone-in, so that they can fry consistently without drying out.
All chicken orders come with pickled radishes and a small free salad. The best add-on side is kimchi fried rice, which comes in a cute little gold box and is topped with a fried egg. There’s just enough kimchi folded in to make the rice flavorful all the way through.
If you want vegetables, that kimchi, those turnips, and an order of onion rings are your only choices. Chicken Warriors knows its own strengths. We’re only here for three things: fried chicken, rubber chickens, and eggs that are dressed to look like chickens.
Chicken Warriors, 1060 W. Frankford Rd., Ste. 200, Carrollton