It seems like the food trend has stayed frozen for the whole year due to the pandemic. There have been many restaurants that are closing all across Portland (and around the country), but it has not created a void in the food scene. Many restaurants continued to operate to their best capabilities, and some optimistic restaurateurs are even taking advantage of the situation to open new restaurant that are catering to this takeout crowd. People want to eat out, and there is nothing else better to do, especially as cold weather approaches. Food ranking lists are updated regularly to reflect the current situation, and I took this opportunity to try out the leading fried chicken sandwich in town – Basilisk.
Basilisk is not a traditional restaurant. It is located in a small food court alongside a few other small eateries, which would have allowed it to operate at full capacity even with Oregon’s strict pandemic rules. Yet, I could not order in person, and had to resort to purchasing my meal on their website. Although it wasn’t difficult to navigate (I’ve seen worse), I have never enjoyed ordering things on my phone, with or without apps. The decor is slightly odd, with the synthwave vaporware neon pink outrun aesthetics going on. All meals are packed as to go, as they are not responsible if any choose to sit at he benches in the open air food court. I made my purchased and waited for about 10 minutes – there is a doorbell to request for attention, but the cashier noticed me and send the food my way before my allocated arrival time.
The size of the fried chicken sandwich was what catapult Basilisk to the front pages of Portland’s and the country’s top sandwich spot. Since there are two pieces of fried chicken, I only kept one in between the buns while store the other one for later, and the sandwich still looks humongous. My gold standard for fried chicken sandwich (especially spicy ones) is the McSpicy in Singapore. (Someday, I’ll make a post on that subject, on why I think Singapore’s McDonald’s produces the best fried chicken sandwich in the world) The sandwich looks extremely inviting, but the chicken fell flat. They claimed to have used chicken thigh (the right cut), but these patties might have been flatten then coated with thick crunchy batter, resulting in an experience similar to that of fried pork chops at $4.99 gas station buffets. It is lacking all the juiciness and the flavor of using the thigh meat, as all I could taste was the breading. I wouldn’t fault the breading as some thoughts have been put into it, yet, there is no saving from a bad piece of meat. The slaw and house pickled cucumbers, on the other hand, provides all the flavor to the otherwise blend sandwich. It is savory and slightly sour, very enjoyable – I can see the vegetarian tofu version might fare better than this chicken sandwich.
It is obvious that the sandwich needed something else. I should have ordered a side of the hot sauce to spice things up, literally. That still wouldn’t solve the issue of the flatten chicken thigh encrusted in too batter that is too crunchy. Think of it this way, Korean fried chicken still need good chicken, coating and hot sauce. Missing any of the three ingredients, and it would not be good. I eat the other piece of chicken from the sandwich, and it is also blend. As for the fries, they are prepared fresh and pipping hot, the thinner fries are especially hard. Looking at the menu, it seems like Basilisk is more of a fusion restaurant than a fried chicken shop. There is dan dan fries (with chili oil and peanut sauce), vegetarian salad (which includes noodle) and poached chicken salad (avocado topped). The chicken sandwich does not incorporate fusion elements, except for the exceptional coleslaw and pickled cucumber. Coming from that angle, this sandwich is pretty unique and deserve come credit. I think the proclamation was slightly wrong. Basilisk does not serve the best chicken sandwich in town. And yes, I do have to come back to get it with the hot sauce for the final verdict. Until then, my opinion is that Basilisk is a mold breaker fusion restaurant that serves chicken sandwich.
Visited: Nov 18th 2020 at 12:00pm for lunch.
Address: 820 NE 27th Ave