Fri, Nov 28, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Restaurants: Yu-lin Chicken Leg King 玉林雞腿大王

Address: 9, Ln 114, Zhonghua Rd, Sec 1, Taipei (台北市中華路1段114巷9號)
Telephone:(02) 2371 4920
Open: 11am to 9pm (closed Mondays)Average meal: NT$100
Details: No English menu, credit cards not accepted

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The chicken leg is crispy but not greasy.

PHOTO: YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES

For the past 60 years, Yu-lin has been a synonym for fried chicken legs and rice. Situated in a lane in Ximending near the ubiquitous teenage fashion stores, Yu-lin reveals the deep traces of time. The exterior looks just like it did 60 years ago and the delicious taste of fried chicken remains the same.

Third-generation owner Wu Hsin-hui (吳信輝) is proud of his restaurant's history. "We were the first eatery in Taiwan to specialize in fried chicken legs, back in Japanese times. We even had the name Chicken Leg King patented in the 1970s. So you can't find any other Chicken Leg King in Taiwan," Wu said.

When they come out of the frying basket, Yu-lin's chicken legs look as if they're wearing a shiny golden armor, which preserves the juiciness and freshness of the meat. When served, the legs are sprinkled with dark soy sauce and garnished with cucumber slices. With one big bite of the leg, you can enjoy a mixture of crispness, juicy meat and the sweet and sour tastes of the sauce.

Compared with Western fried chicken at fast-food chains, the coating is thinner but equally crispy. To my surprise, after 30 minutes talking with Wu, the cold chicken in front of me still tasted crispy and non-greasy. Wu said the thin coating kept out the grease.

The secret of Yu-lin chicken is the coating of seasoned flour and spices. "Just dip the chicken leg in the mix and you don't need to marinate the meat with any sauce before frying," Wu said.

In the 1970s a well-known food production corporation offered NT$60 million to buy the secret ingredient in Wu's chicken coating, but was rejected. A Japanese food production company even came to Taipei and sent the mix back to the labs to analyze it. The Wu family was even invited to South Korea to fry chicken for its ambassador, as the ambassador frequently used to dine at Yu-lin when he was posted in Taipei.

Now, the Yu-lin fried chicken mix is supplied to more than a dozen fried chicken or spare-rib food chains in Taiwan, including some well-known resort hotels. A small pack (600g) mix can also be purchased here. A lot of Yu-lin's old customers say they cannot forget the taste of its chicken legs long after they emigrate, so Wu sells them the mix. "This is a service to our old guests," he said.

Apart from fried chicken legs and rice or noodles (NT$100), there is also fried spare-rib rice or noodles (NT$90), and fried fish and rice to choose from. The fried tofu (NT$40) is also tasty.

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