This is Stella’s rant piece about all the fake Taiwanese fried chicken that we are all accustomed to here in Indonesia.
Let’s start this with a question, what comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Taiwan’? I bet ‘Shihlin’ is among the few things that popped up in your mind. Popularised by the famous food chain Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks, Indonesians grow to love this crispy chicken-ey deliciousness of a snack. Loved by the locals, 雞排(Jī pái) which literally translates to chicken chop originated from Taipei’s night market but nowadays can be found all across Taiwan.
But, how was 雞排created? Who invented it? Well, in the 1980s, a vendor called 鄭姑媽小吃店(Zhèng gūmā xiǎochī diàn/ Aunt Zheng’s Snack Shop) invented 雞排. As a background, Taiwanese people in the 1980s preferred to eat chicken legs more than chicken breast then, so the price of the latter one was comparatively lower. 鄭姑媽小吃店 wanted to take advantage of this so it decided to create a brand-new product, 雞排. The original recipe was really unique, the chicken breast was blended with Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs and then fried in heated oil. Thereafter, in 2006, the Taiwanese government found the value of 雞排 and planned to advertise this unique Taiwanese food. So they hosted an activity called “2006 Taiwanese golden Fried Chicken Party” to boost 雞排 sales. Then came the 2007-2009. Due to the financial crisis then, lots of people lost their job and faced severe difficulties in making a living. They saw the opportunity in the 雞排 industry with its low capital and high demand, selling 雞排 became a favorable choice for unemployed people to earn money. And that’s why lots of fried chicken stores have popped up since then.
Anyway, how on earth did Taiwanese fried chicken become so popular in Indonesia? Truth be told, no one knows the exact reason but I can give the credit to Indonesians’ love for chicken. Since the base for Taiwanese fried chicken is chicken meat (obviously), which is dubbed as the most consumed meat in Indonesia, coupled with its convenience is a match made in heaven for a popular snack. I mean, how could people not like the deep-fried chicken breast coated with flour which will also be generously coated with sweet and spicy seasonings? Well, you’re not wrong, but not exactly right either. See, the thing is, the XXL fried chicken that we, Indonesians, used to consume isn’t the same as XXL fried chicken that the Taiwanese purchase from the night markets. The one that is common in Indonesia is made from a thin slab of chicken breast which offers more convenience, economically and labour-wise. Whereas XXL fried chicken in Taiwan is made from chicken chop. Yes! Those chonky chicken chops with its knuckles still intact.
With this difference, naturally, the XXL fried chicken in Taiwan is way bigger and thicker than the ones we usually come across in Indonesia. I mean, they aren’t called XXL for no reason. Also, hate to be the one to tell you this, but Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks doesn’t exist in Taiwan (instead, Shihlin is the name of a very famous night market in Taipei). Now, in Taiwan, there are a plethora of fried chicken brands, ranging from local mom-and-pop shops to famous chains like Hot Star and my favourite, Shiyun!
Since 1985 at Taipei’s Shida night market, Shiyun has won over customers with its signature fried chicken coated in garlic powder and fried garlic. Aside from their popular XXL fried chicken, Shiyun also sells other snacks like popcorn chicken, king trumpet mushrooms and vegetables like broccoli and snaps to name a few, all deep fried and seasoned. Being a well-loved and famous food stall with a lot of avid fans like myself, Shiyun even launched its NFTs in 2021!So come to Taiwan, grab a 鸡排 and judge for yourself whether the XXL fried chickens that you have consumed your whole life have been deceiving you or not… 再见~
Created by : Stella Maries
Stella is a Food Technology student who works in Business and Sales. She enjoys walking around and is mildly obsessed with hitting her daily steps target. Missed her true calling as a historian and is planning to redeem herself through volunteering in excavation sites in Egypt as her retirement plan. Currently is contributing to IISMA-AC as its Partnership Director.