Saturday, December 8, 2012
Ne Ne Chicken? I Beg Your Pardon?
A name like that here would give Hooters a run for their money. But cheeky as it sounds, Ne Ne Chicken isn't a joint specialising in a certain chicken part. "Ne" means Yes in Korean, and "Ne Ne" is a doubly enthusiastic expression of friendliness. This Korean chain is seriously popular (1,003 outlets in South Korea alone!) and we're their first international outlet!
Ne Ne Chicken is all about sauce-coated, deep-fried battered chicken. The menu can be quite mind-boggling at first, with about seven sauces and three types of chicken parts - nine-piece whole chicken, boneless tenders, wings and sticks. And then there are the more affordable Super Meal sets with about four pieces.
I stay in the East but something like this is worth an investigative trip out to Buona Vista (the outlet is at Star Vista which is just next to the MRT). My kids and I had an impromptu meet-up with Keropokman and wife for a quick dinner (pardon the hastily taken iPhone photos!). The 17-seater shop is small and focuses more on takeaways and delivery. But very cheerfully decked out in their signature yellow.
You'll have to wait a while for your food as they only cook it upon order. It comes really piping hot! The batter does stay fairly crispy even after being doused with sticky sauces. Apparently it also shields the meat from drying out, so the chicken remains juicy. Strangely I found it almost too moist inside.
Of course we had to try the Freaking Hot Chicken. Yeah, it looks deadly, and it will be for some folks. The heat doesn't hit you immediately, but it is a nice slow burn (you'll feel it in your tummy afterwards too). I had two pieces and mopped up the sauce afterwards with other chicken pieces. And then I had to reach for drinks! But it's bearable.
We also tried Swicy (Sweet and Spicy?) which had a similarly reddish, gooey, translucent sauce that was much milder. A little too cloyingly sweet for me. Between the two, it's Freaking Hot all the way!
Even though there's no chili in it, my favourite is the Green Onion Boneless Tenders (S$26.90 for approximately 35 pieces with pickled radish and fries) - the chicken isn't drowned in sticky sauce, and so these boneless tender pieces are much more crispy. The sauce is also more savoury than sweet, a combination of mustard, soy and just a touch of sugar. The shredded green onions add a nice hit of spice.
Their Ne Ne Pop (S$5.90) gives you a drink with Popcorn Chicken and Tater Tot-like hash brown pieces. The chicken and potato sit in a plastic container atop the half-filled cup. Definitely a hit with the kids, and great movie snack idea (if movie theatres allow it at all). Pity the portion is so very very small!
I also couldn't resist going to Ne Ne Chicken again when I had the chance to drop by Star Vista a second time this week.
We tried the Original, which is any day better than KFC.
Some folks like the Black Sesame, but I'm still partial to Green Onion and Freaking Hot. Oh some sets come with really nice pickled radish cubes. And buffalo sticks (ultra-slim coated shoestring fries)
The Snowing Cheese is oddly sweetish with its powdery coating of cheese. I wish they would do a blue cheese version!
The chicken is still best enjoyed in the shop freshly made. If you do take away or get Ne Ne Chicken delivered, it's best to pop them in the oven a few minutes to crisp up the chicken pieces.
They very thoughtfully provide plastic disposable gloves for eating, and also moist towelettes for cleaning up. Friendly Ne Ne indeed. For fast food, prices are a tad on the high side, but hey, I'd pick Ne Ne over Nandos any day.
NE NE CHICKEN
1 Vista Green Exchange
#01-24 Star Vista
Tel: + 6694 5489
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm Daily