REVIEW: KFC Sweet Chili Crunch Chicken (Canada)

KFC Sweet Chili Crunch (Canada) 1

You’ll have to forgive me if this is a particularly short review; KFC’s Sweet Chili Crunch Chicken is essentially just their Hot & Spicy Chicken, but with a drizzling of sauce on top.

However, KFC’s promotional materials seemed to indicate that the chicken itself is different, which didn’t quite jive with what I was tasting.

I decided to call my local KFC to figure this out, which made me feel very reportery (reporter-esque? Reporter-like? Yeah, I’m gonna go with reporter-like. That sounds legit). I’m like Woodward and Bernstein, only instead of rooting out deep-seeded political corruption in the highest government offices, I’m finding out about fried chicken. That’s about the same, right?

Anyway, what I was told is that it actually is slightly different from the standard Hot & Spicy Chicken. The guy I spoke with said very similar, but that the chicken in the Sweet Chili Crunch is actually a little less spicy — I guess because of the presence of the chili sauce?

Either way, it’s similar enough that I doubt you’d be able to tell the difference unless you ate the two side-by-side. I know I couldn’t.

This basically leaves the Sweet Chili sauce as the differentiator. It’s fairly standard-issue stuff, and pretty much tastes like any number of similar Thai-style sauces you can get at the supermarket. It’s very sweet, with a mild garlicky bite, and an even milder hint of spice. If the prospect of spicy fried chicken is what’s drawing you to this item, look elsewhere. The heat level here registers at more of a mild tingle than anything else.

Though the drizzling of sauce initially comes off as odd and a bit stingy, it’s definitely for the best. If the pieces of chicken had been dunked in the sweet sauce, it probably would have overwhelmingly cloying; in the quantity provided, it adds some vague sweetness and a tiny bit of heat, but definitely doesn’t overwhelm the chicken.

KFC Sweet Chili Crunch (Canada) 2

Anyway, it’s good, because KFC’s standard-issue Hot & Spicy Chicken is good, and that’s basically what it tastes like. It’s nice and crunchy, with that distinctive KFC flavour. I know a lot of people don’t like KFC for various reasons, but I’m generally a fan, despite what my last couple of reviews might lead you to believe. This particular batch of chicken was overcooked and a bit on the dry side, but that’s pretty much the luck of the draw.

For six bucks the meal comes with three pieces of dark meat (a drumstick and two thighs) and an order of fries, so it’s not a bad deal, though I’m not a big fan of KFC’s fries. I’m not crazy about battered fries in general -– I like battering and deep-frying things as much as the next guy, but fries are already delicious as they are. No batter necessary.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 thigh piece – 390 calories, 29 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Item: KFC Sweet Chili Crunch Chicken (Canada)
Purchased Price: $5.99 (CAN)
Size: 3 pieces and fries
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy, tasty chicken. Sweet chili sauce isn’t over-applied.
Cons: Not very spicy. Not much reason to order this over the standard Hot & Spicy chicken.

REVIEW: KFC Chicken Marinara Filler Sub (Canada)

KFC Chicken Marinara Filler Sub

I don’t know how authentic they are, but Italian sandwiches as we know them in North America are pretty much the best. Tender veal — deep-fried to perfection — slathered in a tasty tomato sauce, possibly topped with melty cheese and hot peppers, all on a crusty Italian roll? The best. They’re pretty much the definition of comfort food.

So when I found out that KFC had their own take on one of these sandwiches, I was intrigued. Maybe a little nervous too, coming off my last KFC experience, which was fairly disastrous. But mostly intrigued.

It’s part of their Filler line of subs, which basically consist of two chicken strips laid end-to-end on a nine inch bun, topped with various condiments. This particular one comes with sliced mozzarella and “savoury marinara sauce.”

The woman behind the counter asked if I wanted it spicy, and of course I said yes, because that is always the correct answer to that question. “Do you want this sandwich spicy?” “Yes.” “Do you want these chips spicy?” “Yes.” “Do you want your car wash spicy?” “I… don’t know what that could mean, but… yes. Yes, I do want that car wash spicy.”

Spice tends to improve things is what I’m saying.

KFC Chicken Marinara Filler Sub 2

The bread was weird. Though it appears to be crusty, almost like a baguette, in actuality it was as pillowy soft as a hot dog bun. It wasn’t bad — it suited the sandwich well enough — but the discrepancy between how it looked and how it tasted was pretty jarring.

The two chicken strips in my sandwich were, sadly, radically different in quality. The first half of the sandwich featured chicken that had been ravaged by time; the meat was dried out and had been drained of all heat. If you had measured it, I’m pretty sure it would have been precisely at room temperature. The breading wasn’t quite soggy, but it wasn’t crispy, either.

The chicken strip in the second half, however, was fresh, juicy, and tasty, with a satisfyingly crispy exterior. Its quality differential was a little bit off-putting, but at least one half was good I guess?

KFC Chicken Marinara Filler Sub 3

The marinara sauce was awful. I know that the flavours of food are technically subjective, but this was objectively, mathematically horrible. It had the acrid tang of the absolute bottom of the bottom of the barrel. You could practically taste the can it came out of.

I’m pretty sure it’s the result of a KFC exec commanding his underlings to find the absolute cheapest tomato sauce on the market, and then being like “This still tastes vaguely like real tomato sauce. CHEAPER.”

It tastes like a potent mix of tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, and sawdust. I suspect it also contains the tears of orphaned children, but that’s just conjecture on my part. If it’s possible for marinara sauce to be worse than this, I haven’t tasted it.

The mozzarella was fine, at least. It tasted like real cheese and not like the waxy, processed cheese food you might expect given the caliber of the tomato sauce. The heat of the sandwich wasn’t even close to enough to melt it, however. The cheese on the fresh side of the sandwich had softened a bit; on the other side, it was fresh-from-the-fridge cold.

As for the so-called spice, it was negligible. I think it was the least amount of heat you can apply to something and still in good conscience call it spicy.

I think KFC’s heart was in the right place when they created this — in theory, it should have been quite good. But the execution is just way off. Particularly that sauce… Yikes, that sauce.

(Nutrition Facts – 910 calories, 37 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, zero grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 97 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fibre, 13 grams of sugar, and 48 grams of protein.)

Item: KFC Chicken Marinara Filler Sub (Canada)
Purchased Price: $6.79 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Freshly cooked chicken is pretty tasty. Real cheese.
Cons: Stale chicken is not so tasty. Weirdly soft bun. Unmelted cheese. Worst tomato sauce of all time.

REVIEW: KFC Big Boss (Canada)

KFC The BIg Boss 2

When it comes to fast food gimmicks, few items can claim to be quite as successful as KFC’s Double Down, the cheese and bacon sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken as a bun. That thing hit the cultural zeitgeist like nobody’s business, and for a while there it seemed like everyone was talking about it.

It was with that in mind, I’m sure, that KFC Canada introduced the Big Boss, which is essentially a Big Mac, but with fried chicken patties instead of beef. It’s a tantalizing proposition that sounds just crazy enough to be delicious.

If you’ve had a Big Mac, then you know exactly what to expect: the shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, Thousand Island-esque special sauce, the three layers of bun, and the single slice of cheese. It’s literally a Big Mac with fried chicken instead of beef; KFC has done nothing to shake up the flavours to make it more chicken-appropriate.

I was actually pretty excited to try the Big Boss. I like excessive novelty sandwiches more than I should probably admit. You wanna replace the bun in a hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches? Yeah, I’ll eat that! Wanna add more patties than any reasonable burger should contain? Sure, I’ll try it. Replace the bun with fried chicken? I’m all over that.

So it is with no small amount of sadness that I must report that the Big Boss is not particularly good.

KFC The Big Boss

The first thing I noticed was that this was maybe the most haphazardly-assembled sandwich I’ve ever been served at a fast food joint. I was planning on cutting it in half so I could get a picture of the midsection, but the whole thing was so precarious that I was honestly afraid that it would crumble into pieces if I messed with it too much. But of course, you can’t expect anything too pristine from a place like KFC; what really matters is the taste.

The patties are similar to what you’d find in a Big Crunch, but thinner. The breading is standard KFC fare, and it’s expectedly tasty. But man, the chicken itself is absurdly dry. It is surprisingly, unpleasantly dry. I’m not sure if it’s the thinness of the chicken or what, but it is considerably more dry than a standard KFC Big Crunch patty.

Compounding the dryness issue was the surfeit of bread which, like the chicken, was weirdly dry. I think it might have been a little bit stale, or maybe it was microwaved? I have a hard time accounting for how it got so dry. The lack of moisture from the sandwich itself certainly didn’t help matters.

My first few bites were just a punishing mass of dry chicken, bread, and unmelted cheese, not dissimilar in texture to trying to eat a handful of saltines. Things improved somewhat once I hit a pocket of sauce, onions, and pickles around the centre of the sandwich. Even then, this just made me long for the comparative magnificence of a Big Mac, as the sauce tasted almost identical to Mac sauce. I like Big Macs well enough, but it’s pretty much the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten compared to this ill-advised monstrosity of a sandwich.

I got unlucky, with a sandwich that appeared as though it had been assembled by an arthritic chimp. But even if it had been picture perfect, I still don’t think it would have been particularly good. The flavours just never cohere in any meaningful way. Beef and chicken are two very different things; just because something works with one, doesn’t mean it’s going to work with the other.

Sadly, the Big Boss is more conversation piece than viable sandwich. I’m sure a lot of people will try it, just out of sheer curiosity (the “LOLWTF a Big Mac with fried chicken patties!” factor), but I can’t imagine many will order it a second time. It’s pretty bad.

(Nutrition Facts – 600 calories, 30 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 grams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 7 grams of sugar, 29 grams of protein.)

Item: KFC Big Boss (Canada)
Purchased Price: $4.99 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tasty breading on the chicken patties. Sauce tastes a lot like a Big Mac’s.
Cons: Dry chicken. Dry bread. Dry overload. Unmelted cheese. Big Mac flavours taste incongruous with chicken. Messy if not assembled properly. Makes the ghost of Colonel Sanders cry.

REVIEW: KFC Hot Shot Bites

KFC Hot Shot Bites

In the ever changing fast food world, there are still a few things you can take to the bank. Aside from the universal appeal of McDonald’s French fries and the undisputable fact that Taco Bell always tastes better after a few beers, you can pretty much count on whatever is being billed as the latest “spicy” item to be not really that spicy. Sure, there are a few exceptions (I’m looking at you, Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich), but for the most part, the fast food execs calling the shots know many of us are wimpy gringos who really can’t handle the flaming stuff.

That, or they know their employees would find a way to screw it up when it came time to serve it.

Hence, the case of KFC’s new Hot Shot Bites. You matriarchs out there can relax, because these are not, as they say in the Dixie, “slap yo mamma silly” hot. In fact, depending on the KFC you walk into, you might find them even less seasoned than their Original Recipe Bites.

Which brings me to perhaps the most tried and true hallmark of fast food: consistency, or lack there of. Yes, you might as well fetch the cheese board, because I’m about to do some whining when it comes to KFC’s remarkable record of inconsistency.

I went to two separate KFC’s to buy the Hot Shot Bites, and in both cases was presented with something that was being sold as the authentic Hot Shot Bites. The first occasion found me receiving what looked more like Popeyes Rip’n Chicken than anything else; with dry, stringy meat that displayed no red hue, absolutely zero heat or spice, and more cornflake-like breading than actual meat.

We’ll get back to those impostors later, because my second trip (to a completely different KFC) at least managed to turn up the Mars red-hued nuggets that matched the promotional photo.

KFC Hot Shot Bites Innards

The good news was the batch I received on the second trip contained moist and juicy meat right out of the fryer. The bad news? The breading, which was oily and falling off as soon as I touched the Bites. While I’m sure eating the Bites is healthier this way, it definitely also reduced the heat level. However, the problem with these Bites is that heat level wasn’t high to begin with.

KFC Hot Shot Bites Orange Hue

Crunching on the exterior breading, I detected a noticeable but very restrained cayenne and black pepper flavor that you might associate with Tabasco sauce. True, it’s got a kind of buttery-Buffalo style aftertaste because of how oily the Bites are, but unless you’ve been living in the Arctic Circle, I doubt you’ll find the Bites hot and spicy.

Now, back to those impostor Bites. Remember those? I actually returned to the KFC selling the impostors after buying what I’ll call the real Hot Shot Bites (“hot” being used in the most liberal of applications), and I brought along one of the real Bites to compare.

After asking the manager about the discrepancy, I was assured the Bites I received from the first store were “up to standard,” and was shown, much to my amazement, the exact same impostor Bite I received on my first trip (lack of red hue and all). What do I make of it? Well, you’ve got me. All I can opine is what I’ve noticed to be a record of inconsistency at KFC franchises, a record which makes getting something truly spicy akin to playing the fast food lottery.

All things considered, the real KFC Hot Shot Bites aren’t bad. No, they’re not very spicy or hot, but they’ve got enough flavor to eat sans sauce, and when cooked properly, are succulent and juicy. Still, they’re not nearly as good as Chick-Fil-A’s now discontinued Spicy Nuggets from a few years back, and that’s assuming you get a good batch.

In that case, perhaps the best question isn’t, “Can you take the heat?”, but rather, “Are you feeling lucky?”

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Other KFC Hot Shot Bites reviews:
Grub Grade
Brand Eating

Item: KFC Hot Shot Bites
Purchased Price: $3.99 (combo with a side and drink)
Size: 6 pieces
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Moist and succulent white meat. Has buttery Buffalo sauce aftertaste thing going on. Crunchy breading. KFC’s Sweet Kernel Corn (the most underrated fast food side in the world, if you’re asking me).
Cons: Inconsistent spicing and cooking by location. Not actually slap-yo’-mamma hot. One note in cayenne heat. Breading falls off too easily. A bit oily. Fast food manager rage.

NEWS: KFC Introduces Dip’ems ANOTHER Dippable Chicken Product

KFC

When KFC introduced their KFC Bites, I thought to myself, “Don’t they already have popcorn chicken?” They did.

And now after learning about their new KFC Dip’ems chicken tenders, I’m thinking to myself, “Don’t they already have dippable chicken strips?” They do.

I guess it’s hard to come up with different products when you can use only chicken.

The new chicken product is made using 100 percent premium all-white meat chicken, marinated and double-breaded in special seasonings. They’re available in a bucket of 20 tenders, which includes all six sauces, or in a combo with three tenders, a choice of two sauces, a side item, a biscuit and a medium drink. Along with the Dip’ems, KFC also introduced three new dipping sauces — Creamy Buffalo, Orange Ginger and Bacon Ranch.

KFC Dip’ems commercial below:

Source: Grub Grade