Fu Rai Bo Isn’t Just Good at Frying Chicken Wings, Their Katsu Curry is Great As Well
If you work in West L.A. but don’t lunch on Sawtelle at least once a week, what is wrong with you!? Dubbed little Osaka (to Downtown’s Little Tokyo) the area is chock full of Japanese goodness. Back in April, I went on a bit of a curry spree and I’ve been meaning to check out all the take out bentos available at the Nijiya Market. But that was put on hold once I spotted this post about Fu Rai Bo- written by my friend Aaron the “Savory Hunter”. Hello Japanese fried chicken wings!
I don’t know much about Fu Rai Bo (apparently it’s a giant chain in Tokyo?) or Japanese chicken wings for that matter… but there was this place in New York called Tebaya that served these amazing sweet and sticky wings sprinkled with sesame seeds that were out of control. If Fu Rai Bo was even half as good as that place, I’d be one happy fat man.
At night Fu Rai Bo is an izakaya… so drinking is kind of a requirement, and the menu is mostly just fried chicken and an assortment of small dishes that go well with beer. They have dinner boxes, but to do it right you’re really supposed to go with a bunch of people, drink some beer and eat a whole mess of fried chicken wings.
At lunch the menu is far more friendly to small groups (or even dining alone.) They have over 20 lunch specials, all under $10, which come with miso soup, salad, and pickles. But the fried chicken is what you’re there for, and there are 9 options.
1. Just wings for $5.95
2. Leg/Thigh (it’s one piece) for $6.50
3. Breast for $6.50
4. Half Chicken (Leg/Thigh + Breast/Wing) for $7
5. Wings (5) + Leg/Thigh for $7.50
Not enough food? You can double them all…
6. Double wings for $7.50
7. 2 leg/thigh for $7.50
8. 2 breasts for $7.50
9. A whole chicken for $9.50
Even though Aaron recommended just getting wings, I couldn’t help but want to try the thigh. It’s the best piece of fried chicken there is- contrary to what the drumstick and breast loving 10 year old me used to think.
I went with the Teba/Chita course (5 or 6 wings + the un cut drumstick and thigh.) Unlike the wings at Tebaya (or Korean fried chicken for that matter) these wings don’t have a ton of sauce- more like a very light glaze. But you choose how much spice you want (none, little, spicy or extra spicy.) “Normal” is to order it spicy, which is what I did… and the wings pack a nice enough amount of peppery heat. But definitely not anywhere near being too spicy. So if you like things spicy, I would definitely recommend getting them extra spicy.
Whether or not you like Fu Rai Bo’s will depend mostly on how you answer two question. #1 What’s more important to you, meat or skin? And #2. Do you prefer, dry but super crispy? Or moist, but super flabby. If you chose skin, dry, and super crispy Fu Rai Bo is your spot. There isn’t a lot of meat on the wings, so they are pretty dry and mostly about the super crispy, slightly spicy, barely sticky skin. They may night be for everybody, but I’m a fan.
As for the thigh/drumstick, they put giant slits into the meat so it ends up being this super crispy, and dry picket fence version of fried chicken. I tried picking at it, which didn’t work too well. And cutting into it with a fork and knife was completely futile. I was kind of seeing why Aaron wasn’t a fan… until I just decided to pick it up with my hands and go at it. And that’s when the fun started. Once you start breaking the thing apart with your hands, and getting in there, it’s like a fun game. You know how when fried chicken is amazing, you turn it over and start picking out all the crispy bits from the little crevices between the bones, long after all the meat has already been eaten. (I can’t be the only one, right!?) This was like doing that from the get go. Tons of crispy bits, little pockets of still semi-moist chicken. It’s a bit of work, and you end up a mess at the end, but I really enjoyed myself. The cabbage serves as a nice palate cleanser, and if you like canned tuna fish, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find they (inexplicably) give you a little spoonful on the side. Fun!
I couldn’t help but also try their pork katsu curry, just to see how it stood up to Curry House and Hurry Curry of Tokyo up the street.
At $7.50 it’s a bit cheaper than the other two spots, and you get just as much food (if not more.) As for the curry, if you like the sludge like consistency of most Japanese Curry you’ll be disappointed in the version at Fu Rai Bo. It’s definitely more watery, but the carrot chunks give it a nice texture overall and there are some bits and pieces of stewed meat floating around (a huge bonus!) It had a nice flavor, and was clearly homemade… but the real prize of the plate was the katsu. Clearly Fu Rai Bo knows how to fry shit up. Their pork katsu was super crunchy and really flavorful… and stood up remarkably well to the curry that had been poured over the top. I would definitely get it again, and might even choose it over the other two curry spots (if for no other reason than you could also get some chicken wings!)
Were the wings as good as Tebaya? Perhaps not… but I’m still a big fan. And will definitely be back.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love super crispy, dry chicken wings that are slightly sweet and slightly spicy.
- Their lunch specials are a great value
- Wings are the specialty, but I love picking through the thigh. So much fun finding all the little hidden bits of meat and crispy skin
- Their katsu is fried so well
- I don’t like my curry to have the same consistency of sludge… and I love how their curry is chunky, with carrots and bits of meat
- It’s way cheaper than Korean Fried Chicken, and the other curry spots on Sawtelle
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Yo, dude. Where’s the meat?!
- The meat is way too dry and overcooked
- I like my wings to be super sticky. Needs more sauce…
- I was hoping for a Tebaya replacement… very disappointed.
Fu Rai Bo, 2068 Sawtelle Blvd, 310-444-1432