Do you like fried chicken? Well, I do! and I just fell in love with one of the hidden gems in the multi-cultural little Italy over the weekend. We noticed Downlow Chicken Shack when we went to Kin Kao Thai Kitchen for some Thai food couple of weeks ago. As we check out the menu of Downlow Chicken Shack, some of the friendly patrons in the line preached the Sando to us. They just opened in June of 2018. We finally came here to try, and I regret not coming here sooner. Downlow Chicken Shack is located on Commercial Drive near Venables Street in Vancouver East.
Strength: Crispy exterior, Juicy interior with Awesome flavour
Weakness: Sandos are too tall to bite conveniently
Other Fried Chicken locations
- Todak Todak Korean Cuisine (3.5 Stars)
Chicken with a smirk
Downlow Chicken Shack has a very modest storefront. The building has a dark teal color with a small dark red awning for weather protection. The only thing to identify the store is their logo with a chicken with a smirk on his face. Most of the time, there is a long line up out the door, so we advise to avoid peak hours.
The Kitchen takes up 2/3 of the space
When you enter, the kitchen is right in front of your eyes. There is a menu board and recycling to your right, but the path of travel leads you to the far end of the store where the cash register is located. Along the path, there are chairs to your left. There are also plenty of seats on the outdoor patio.
Kitchen for the chicken
The kitchen works like an assembly line. There are approximately 6 kitchen
A staff dedicated to cut sando buns
Next to the ordering station, you can see the internal kitchen and a dedicated kitchen staff slicing the buns. I think he does more, but didn’t really bothered to look into it.
Where the magic happens
On the other side of the kitchen closer to the entrance is the seasoning station where the chicken gets their wonderful flavour. The staff deep-fry the chicken and fries. Deep-fried chicken were first dipped in the hot sauce and then sprinkles with spicy sauce before being served.
New menu from January 2019
Downlow Chicken Shack’s menu has received an overhaul. There are more types of heat level, and more items. The menu keeps evolving and it’s worth mentioning that Downlow Chicken has started serving Downlow Burgers since October 1st on Mondays.
Fall Secret Menu
A good chef always reinvent themselves. It’s very good to see Downlow chicken come up with new menu items. This secret menu board is placed discreetly off to the side of the window very close to the ordering station. You need to make the decision to drop your previous decision and jump onto the Chicken Bacon Range Sando quickly to be able to enjoy it.
Everything we have ordered came in one of these recyclable paper boxes. They are large enough to contain a large Sando, or a large portioned fries. These boxes are very convenient. I was able to fold everything into one box and simply bring 1 item to the trash area.
The trash location has 3 bins for paper and utensil. They are clearly marked so customers know exactly where to put things. The one blue bin on the side is for cans and bottles for recycling.
Awesome (Wholesome) Chicken
It’s always so inspiring to see stores doing their part to do good to the community and the environment. Aside from the good food, the philosophy brings people together. For people who cares about what goes into their mouth, Downlow Chicken Shack use GMO free, Horomone Free, Organic free-run chicken. This is probably why their meat has such high quality.
Heat Level and Flavours
The heat level chart lists the different spicy levels with clever remarks that are not really explanations. I asked the waitress and found out both “Side of Milk” and “Extra Hot” contains ghost chili pepper. I found out the hard way that “side of milk” doesn’t really get you a glass of milk on the side.
Generous napkins is appreciated
There are cutlery and lots of napkins at each table. Eating at Downlow Chicken Shack is going to be messy, so I was thankful for the napkins.
After we ordered the staff brought our food to our table in recyclable boxes. We ordered two pieces of chicken thigh for $4 each. We were feeling brave so ordered a “side of milk” heat level and the other is “Extra Hot” so we have something less spicy to fall back on. The two pieces of chickens look pretty much the same but the staff thoughtfully marked their name respectively on the lid.
Nashville Hot Chicken
This is the first time I am trying Nashville hot chicken. These two flavor-packed deep-fried boneless chicken legs are the best I have had in Vancouver, and I’m not being exaggerated. The exterior is crunchy and crispy, but they crumble to my bite without hurting my gums. Even when wet, the batter remained its texture because it was served right after seasoning. The vibrant red coating looks sinister and knowing I would be soon breathing hell-fire made my mouth water.
Peeling Fried Chicken batter
I am not familiar with Nashville dining etiquettes and used a fork because I didn’t want to accidentally rub my eyes with ghost chili pepper residue (in case you’re wondering about the fork in the picture). When I started eating, the batter and the skin starts to peel off. The interior is very juicy because it’s dark meat. Even though this fried chicken is very spicy, I can still taste a lot of underlying deliciousness in the batter. I enjoyed how the spiciness stayed in my mouth and did not upset my stomach. At least during the day I had it…..
Get a carbonated cold beverage
Trust me, you’re going to want to get a cold drink ready. The carbonated iced beverage goes very well with spicy fried chicken. It also helps wash down the fries.
The original sando that’s Extra Hot
Because this was our first time visiting the Downlow Chicken Shack, I ordered the original sando. It is topped with pickle, coleslaw and lots of DL sauce. The sando is very tall that I have trouble putting it in my mouth. It was a good messy ride.
What it looks like inside
I squished the bread in an attempt to fit this burger in my mouth. I cannot imagine how people are going to eat it with additional fried egg or chicken skin. The buns were slightly charred on the edge. They were warm and soft when I bite into them. Even when squished, they retain the bounciness. The chicken breast is very well prepared but can be a little dry. That’s just the nature of chicken breast. You can swap the meat for dark meat for $2 less.
Large Fries for $4
The fries only cost $3.50 if ordered as a combo with Sando. The wavy fries filled 3/4 of the paper box then drizzled with DL Sauce. This is a lot of fries for $4. The DL sauce provided with a lot of flavour to this otherwise dry fries. The staff was very friendly when I asked what is in the DL sauce. It’s basically pickle, chili powder, and mayonnaise. I find the texture a little too thick for the fries, but it’s perfect with the juicy chicken.
604 Food Critics Assessment
Downlow Chicken Shack is the best fried spicy chicken I have had in Vancouver. They use high-quality ingredients that taste incredible. The food has large quantity and $15 per person price point is very reasonable. I cannot recommend Downlow Chicken Shack enough.