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Hot Dish: The Secret Behind Hopscotch's Famous Fried Chicken

Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment. This week, take a look at the excellent Japanese-influenced fried chicken from chef Kyle Itani.

Hopscotch's moist and crispy fried chicken is such a crowd favorite that chef Kyle Itani has started selling it by the bucketful, in addition to it's permanent home on the dinner menu. By the numbers, the restaurant goes through 12-14 cases per week of whole chickens, at 14 chickens per case, which equals almost 400 orders of crisp, fried perfection per week. Itani's secret weapon is long-time employee Darwin, who is renowned for his impressive skills, breaking each chicken down in about 45 seconds. "When he's out on vacation, all the sous chefs are breaking down the chickens together all morning," laughed Itani. "I tell new cooks to watch Darwin's method, not mine."

To achieve chicken nirvana, the chicken is first marinated for three to five days in a mixture of buttermilk, whole milk, Japanese mustard powder soy sauce (Itani prefers Usukuchi Shoyu, which is less salty than others), and ginger, that has been blended til smooth. Then, the chicken is dredged in equal quantities of all purpose flour and potato starch, allowing lots of the marinade to remain for a solid crust. After that it's eight minutes in the fryer for golden-brown perfection, followed by a healthy sprinkling of sea salt and Korean chili flakes.

For summer, the chicken is served with a light slaw of cabbage, chili oil and lemon juice, and a potato salad of mini purple, red and Yukon potatoes with Kewpie mayonnaise, Korean chili flakes, salted cucumbers, Japanese mustard and mentaiko (cod roe); expect something heartier like stewed cannellini beans when the weather gets cooler.

As for the bucket, it's an eight-piece affair available for takeout or delivery. "We looked at all kinds of buckets," said Itani. "And we chose the cheesiest option we could find."


1915 San Pablo Avenue, , CA 94612 (510) 788-6217 Visit Website