Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go - Buena Park

We are not cheapskates when it comes to food; but we are impatient. Height-of-the-hype Kogi days included, any line that wraps around a building is usually a sign we should go somewhere else. And so when when we saw what looked like a queue for Star Wars leading up to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant, our hearts sunk, because by then, we had fried chicken on our brains and mashed potato cravings in our gut.

Then we saw salvation: a way to get our chicken without so much as a ten-minute wait. And even better: without paying a single dime on tip.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go counter was mere feet where people were still standing around for the sit-down experience. These folks would all eventually get in, get served by probably a happier Knott's employee than the frowny-faced cashier who took our order at the Chicken-To-Go joint; but by our estimation, we were already licking our fingers and rubbing our tummies full from a meal well-eaten while they were still mulling menu choices.

And on top of that, it was inexpensive to boot. The dinner bucket we chose for $19.95 could have easily fed four people. It was certainly enough for the three of us with 9 pieces of hen, 2 tubs of mashed potatoes we couldn't even hope of finishing, 1 tub of gravy, 1 equally tall tub of a side of our choice, and more biscuits (of the tender and fluffy variety) with boysenberry preserves (a fruit that was popularized by Walter Knott, donchaknow) than we knew what to do with. They even gave us paper plates and utensils.

We took our haul to picnic tables conveniently located behind Pink's and promptly started diving in, slopping the creamy mashed spuds onto our plates, dousing the entire thing with a thick, white gravy so rich we saw it congeal to sludge the longer it was exposed to the cool night air.

Then we bit into the chicken.

Now, it must be said that none of us, in our decades as OC residents and food boosters, ever tasted the fried chicken at Knott's. I think I was the first one to say it: "What took us so long!?"

Though I can't unequivocally proclaim that it's the best fried chicken in the world, it's certainly one of the best in Orange County.

First thing we noticed is that it's not oversalted, not overbreaded, and not underfried. You know the lead-weighted feeling like you've just downed a cup of grease and salt after KFC? Not here. If it is possible, this fried chicken left us feeling light in our step, like what we ate was health food. I picked clean three pieces but I could've eaten a fourth. A fifth, however, would've probably killed my mobility. It's still fried chicken, after all.

But for sure, if this is the same chicken that Cordelia Knott produced to such acclaim that it begat an amusement park, then it all makes sense. In fact, I'd imagine it would have been much better back then. Of course, in the 1930s, there wouldn't be a Chicken-To-Go option, just a line that wrapped around the building.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go
8039 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90620
(714) 220-5055

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11 Comments:

At 8:59 AM, Blogger digkv said...

I love Mrs. Knotts! What took you so long! haha. You're right, it's not the best in OC, there's many far superior but it's such a great unique taste. There's nothing fancy about it, it's not breaded in rice flour or fried in olive oil, it's not covered in cajun spices, i don't think it's "broasted" either. It's simple and clean and delicious! I hear the secret is that it's brined, apparently Mrs. Knotts knew that brining chicken was amazing before it became all the rage!

 
At 12:57 PM, Anonymous MikeHu said...

Ha, I read this this morning and decided that since I work in BP, I was going to Knott's for lunch, something I haven't done before - even with working about 3 miles away. I got the snack box - a breast and a thigh, with the same accessories - and ate at the picnic tables next to Pink's. A great lunch, and the chicken was perfect for me. It's Monday, and there weren't any lines or parking issues. ...And, the young people at the counter were also pretty cheery-faced, not downcast at all.

 
At 5:21 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

digkv,

"Simple and clean and delicious". Couldn't have said it better myself. It's exactly those things. And when you do the math, it's priced right, that is if you do the dinner bucket. I can totally see how it could be brined, just enough to bring out the poultry.

MikeHu,

It makes this blog worth maintaining when I hear that someone reading it actually goes out to repeat my experience, especially when they confirm it's as good as I had it. Also glad you didn't run into traffic or crowds! Thanks for the comment!

 
At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Kelly von Hemert said...

Forget Soul Train, I'm hoppin' on the Gravy Train!

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

And they give you more gravy to fuel a dozen trains...ok, that did not make sense, but you get my drift! ;-)

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

I've never tried Mrs. Knott's chicken either. Nor have I ever been to Knott's Berry Farm. :P

But the boysenberry pie! What about the pie that made the berry farm famous?

 
At 7:05 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

WC,

Oh I wish we had room for the boysenberry pie. As it was, I had to haul the leftovers back to the car while my friends went ahead and rode roller coasters on stomachs ready to burst!

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger Molly said...

Looks Good!! It's been a while since I've eaten there.

Can you tell me where I can get a really good Banh Mi sandwhich??

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Molly,

Banh Mi Che Cali! On Brookhurst near McFadden in Westminster. Great freshly baked bread done in-store, fillings galore, and it's cheap! Last check it was $2.50 per regular banh mi sandwich, buy two and get one free. Everyone orders in multiples of three!

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger June said...

I have lived near Knott's almost all my life. Never had the chicken, never understood why people we knew would drive way out to OC for chicken. My husband was in shock saying he grew up in LB and would make the drive to Knott's. So. Chicken was great! Shared a big family pack w/parents, brother and in-laws, all of us were raving about it. Thanks! p.s. also thanks to your blog my husband and son are now buddies w/James of Cambinos BBQ in Cypress.

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

June,

So cool that you enjoyed this as much as I did! Thanks for the comment (sorry for the late reply) And long live James and Cambinos!

 

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