Japanese Soul Food (yeah, I said it)…in Monterey Park, CA.
You may noticed that I have a particular…shall we say…fondness for Asian Cuisine.
Mostly, due to the influence of my Godparents, both from mainland China.
Still, it is interesting to me, the African-American, where both Asian and traditional Southern Cuisines overlap: fondness for Pork, for Barbecue (however differently it’s prepared), and of course, the Sweet Potato.
And then there’s the Tokyo Fried Chicken Company, which just goes for it all.
So imagine what could be called traditional Southern cuisine done with a Japanese twist. I’m talking Collard Greens, Potato Salad, and of course Fried Chicken.
Now the Tokyo Fried Chicken Company used to be a place called The Open Door, and in a way, it’s still The Open Door is still there, because the Tokyo Fried Chicken Company is owned by the same Owner, and run by the same staff, with the same Chef in the kitchen.
It’s a cozy space, a fun blend of Western (as in Shoot ‘em up Western) and Japanese decor. You get a table, probably after waiting a bit (the place is that popular), and sit down. Across from you (well, at least where I was sitting) is a massive blackboard with the Beers available, all of them Japanese or Asian. Good size bottles for not too terrible prices. Avail yourself of one of these, because your meal will be coming out of the Kitchen hot and finger lickin’ good.
The menu is small, spare. It’s just really a matter of what combination of Chicken and sides you want to get. You wait a bit, and in they’ll roll. Like I said, hot-hot-hot.
So let’s make no bones about it. is good…damn good. When I went it was still in its period of soft opening, but you couldn’t tell the difference. I had a great meal there. So great…that maybe, just maybe, I may have found my new Happy place.
Well, let’s wait a bit. It may take a few more visits…you now. To be absolutely sure.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, duh.
The real question is how much of it you are getting, and what do you do with it once you get it. The menu helpfully breaks things down per person. If you’re on your own, you can order a number of pieces in whatever combination you like. Otherwise, your freshly Fried Chicken will just arrive at your table.
Now, as an African-American, the Chicken itself was…all right. Not too shabby, but…yeah, I’m not stopping going to Stevie’s or anything. It’s perfectly prepared, and I mean perfectly. That skin was awesome. It just wasn’t the spiciest or tastiest thing ever…
…until I used their house-made sauces. And when I did…
Oh, sweet Lord…how good you are to me.
Heavenly angels in a choir of the Almighty start to sing to my tastebuds.
Stevie’s don’t got these sauces, man.
All, and I mean ALL of the sauces you are presented as just things of a magical nature. There’s a Ponzu, a Spicy Ponzu and House Made Sweet Soy Sauce. You must…try…them…all. That house made Soy made be want to move in and have all my meals there. It was that good.
As far as appetizers go, I also lassoed the Chicken Skins were were fantastic on their own, but heaven-sent with the Soy. I also got their Collard Greens, which I have to say, were pretty damn good, and I can be hard on a restaurant that doesn’t get Greens right.
And as I said before, this is all Beer food. This is a place to relax and have a mug. Once the fryers get going, it gets a little steamy in there. That cold, cold Japanese beer will your best friend.
For dessert they offer Japanese Popsicles for about two bucks a shot. Definitely worth it. I just wish I hadn’t dropped mine on the way out the door.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just know going in you’re in for a wait. It’s not a huge restaurant, but it’s extremely popular. Just sign in and see if you can hang out somewhere.
And apparently, your whole party must be present before you’re seated. Know that going in.
PARKING: Not bad. The Tokyo Fried Chicken Company is in a Strip Mall complex.
Well, that’s not fair. It’s little plaza really. Better than a strip mall.
It’s got a lot of spaces available, but there’s a lot of business in this place. Be warned going in. I got lucky and was able to park right in front of the restaurant, but again…that was blind luck. There isn’t any Valet service going on. I suppose, if you had to, you could try to park somewhere along Atlantic, but it’s awfully busy along there.
The Tokyo Fried Chicken Company
122 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (626) 282-9829
Wednesday, Sunday: 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Thursday-Saturday: 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm