Christmas chicken gets complicatedly delicious.

Fried chicken is the most popular choice of food for Christmas Eve dinner in Japan, but not without some debate. In the anti-fried chicken camp are those who know that in the western countries where most modern Christmas traditions originated, you’re supposed to eat turkey for Christmas, and also those who simply hold that something as pedestrian as fried chicken isn’t special enough for what’s supposed to be a special occasion. On the other side are those who firmly believe that fried chicken tastes great, and so we should all take each and every opportunity to eat it.

Honestly, we can see both sides of the debate, and so we recently decided to try to work out a Christmas compromise with a roasted chicken from KFC Japan. Yes, it’s still technically fast food, but we don’t think anyone can accuse us of cheaping out since this is an ultra-expensive KFC chicken that costs 6,500 yen (US$45)!

You can tell that the Premium Roast Chicken is special right away, since instead of the standard KFC plastic takeout sack, it comes in a cloth bag.

Inside that bag is a packet of gravy sauce, a card with heating/slicing directions, two of those paper drumstick holder things like the ones you see in old-timey cartoon, and, most importantly…

…a really big chicken!

It’s not just the chicken’s size that allows it to command such a high price. For the Premium Roast Chicken, KFC Japan uses gokokuaji-dori, a gourmet breed of chicken raised in Aomori Prefecture on a diet of corn, soybeans, milo, brown rice, and rye (gokokuaji-dori translates as “chicken with the flavor of five grains), and are prized for their richly flavorful, slightly firm meat.

Following the card’s directions, we heated the Premium Roast Chicken up in the microwave…

…then sliced and plated it.

Starting with a thigh piece, our taste tester, reporter Ahiruneko, found it incredibly delicious. As promised, it was full of meaty flavor, and a texture that was noticeable and inviting without being unpleasantly tough.

Things really started to get gourmet, though, when he got to the breast. Stuffed between the meat and skin was a mixture of sauteed onions, Parmesan cheese, and two kinds of mushrooms. KFC Japan obviously spends a lot of time preparing the Premium Roasted Chicken, and Ahiruneko deeply appreciated the trouble they went to in order to make this taste its very best.

By this time Ahiruneko’s expectations for the gravy were sky-high, and once again, KFC didn’t let him down. It’s a buttery, fond de volaille-style chicken broth sauce, and dipping pieces of the Premium Roast Chicken in it let him enjoy a distinctly different, equally exquisite flavor compared to the chicken by itself.

So is KFC Japan’s ultra-expensive Premium Roast Chicken worth it? Yes, in the sense that Ahiruneko found its flavor and quality satisfyingly high, even for the price KFC charges. But looking at it another way, even after eating the Premium Roast Chicken…

he still really, really wanted some Colonel’s Original Recipe, the most basic fried chicken KFC sells.

There’s nothing wrong with getting fancy for special occasions, but to Ahiruneko (and, he suspects, a lot of other people in Japan), there’s no flavor that’s more representative of Christmas than the most KFC-tasting KFC of all, the Original Recipe. Yeah, we all know it’s made with 11 herbs and spices, but a 12th seasoning, the accumulated years and years’ worth of happy, nostalgic memories made with friends and family on Christmas Eve, is the one Ahiruneko craves most of all at this time of year.

So while Ahiruneko thinks the Premium Roast Chicken (which is only available for pick-up from December 22 to 25) is worth 6,500 yen, he can’t say it’s a better choice than spending 6,500 yen to get an absolute mountain of Original Recipe.

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