Now, America isn’t the only country that adores fried Chinese food. In Japan, diners go wild for karaage, Chinese-style fried chicken. According to Maki from Just Hungry, “the word kara refers to China, meaning that this method of preparing chicken originated in Chinese cooking (age means deep-fried)”. Like the Chinese, the Japanese also marinate their chicken with ginger “to get rid of any gaminess”. (Check out Maki’s recipe.)
If biting into the crispy shell of General Tso’s chicken releases pent-up sugar, biting into karaage will unleash a dark and brooding mix of soy sauce and sake. Dark meat, skin on, is best. And this is a dish that begs to be washed down with cold sake or beer.
Lucky residents of L.A. or New York you can easily find karaage in the izakayas that dot the cities. In Shanghai, the Japanese spots cluster mainly in the French Concession, and not many serve the dual-Asian fried chicken dish of my dreams. So hurray for Bankura Soba Kitchen, which has the added advantage of being half a block from my apartment. Their karaage had a deeper soy flavor and a darker reddish brown color than others I’ve had. I couldn’t resist dipping it in the extra sesame sauce that came with my cold soba. Really, more chicken should be fried with skin on, heart health be damned.
And I swear, the side salad with Kewpie mayo tastes better than it looks in the picture.
344 Changle Lu, near Ruijin Lu