It was an unusual kind of fried chicken…but it was delicious!!

The shopping area of Ameyokocho (often called Ameyoko among locals) in the Tokyo neighborhood of Ueno is a unique place packed with shops selling everything under the sun, including unusual food items like pig heads and mysterious-looking fish.

In such a place where you truly never know what you’re going to find, our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa discovered a place that serves food that was almost extraterrestrial. It was called J. Chicken, and one of their fried chicken dishes was, to him, truly frightening. Of course, he ate it anyway.

J. Chicken is a fried chicken specialty restaurant based out of China that also has a branch in Ameoko. In addition to fried bone-in chicken they also sell things like chicken sandwiches and wraps, as well as tenders and nuggets.

According to a sign outside, there are 7,000 branches around the world. The customers and staff inside the Ameyoko branch were people of all races, so it felt like stepping into a restaurant in another country.

Anyway, here’s the super shocking fried chicken:

What happened to it?!

It looked burnt to a crisp!

It was a whole chicken that was almost entirely black, leaving the impression that it had been caught in a fire or something. Seiji was honestly concerned about whether it was actually edible, but when he finally steeled himself and took a bite…

The meat inside was plump and juicy, and the batter had no bitterness to it at all. In fact, the flavor was actually pretty mild!

This fried chicken is actually seasoned with squid ink, and appropriately called the “Whole Squid Ink Chicken” (2,180 yen [US$14.88]). That’s right, the blackness you see isn’t charred flesh, but squid ink!

Squid ink pasta isn’t that hard to find in Japan, but Seiji had  never seen fried chicken with squid ink before. The whole idea of it, and the price, had made him a little worried about trying it, but he’s glad he did. As shocking as the presentation was, it didn’t come with any strong flavors and wasn’t heavily salted like you might expect. And the juiciness of the chicken meat…Mmm!!

If squid ink doesn’t tickle your fancy, whether as a seasoning for fried chicken or as a food in general, then J. Chicken has plenty of other options to try. For fried chicken alone, you first have the option of choosing “Original” or “Spicy”, and after that, you’re given a choice to add up to two extra flavors, which include Mala, Garlic, Cumin, Sweet Plum, Black Pepper, and Salt and Pepper.

Beside the Whole Squid Ink Chicken, Seiji also tried the “Original” chicken flavored with garlic and salt and pepper. The seasonings were an excellent accent for the meaty flavor of the chicken. It was pretty tasty. You can also add sauces like Sweet Chili or Honey Mustard for an extra 50 yen each. With so many options for customization, Seiji really did feel like he had somehow traveled abroad.

As of the writing of this article, J. Chicken has multiple branches in Japan, including its Koenji, Shin-Koiwa, Akabane, and Ikebukuro branches in Tokyo, Nishi-Kawaguchi branch in Saitama, and Dotonbori branch in Osaka. According to signage at the one Seiji went to, the Ameyoko branch was the first one to open in Japan. If you find yourself in Ueno and you don’t feel like waiting for a robot chef to cook you some soba or eating a burger soaked in cheese, consider stopping by J. Chicken for some tasty (and highly customizable) fried chicken.

Restaurant information
J. Chicken (Ueno Ameyoko Branch) / J.CHICKEN(上野アメ横店)
Address: Tokyo-to Taito-ku Ueno 4-5-9 Misuhaya Biru 1F
東京都台東区上野4-5-9 三州屋ビル1F
Open 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

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