Full disclosure: I didn’t even know about Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken before we went to Taiwan last week. I only learned of it because there was a really long line at the store’s branch in Shilin Market. Intrigued, we lined up ourselves to see what the fuss was about. Needless to say, we loved the chicken. It tasted, uhm, Taiwanese and was really filling because of its size.
So to hear about the fast food chain arriving here earlier this week just a day after our trip was really amusing. The store’s first Philippine branch opened at the Blue Bay Walk near Mall of Asia on February 25. However, instead of sharing space with other stalls in a crowded alley, this branch is more of a fast food restaurant in a wide, still practically empty, area. Instead of a man placing chickens in a paper bag, customers place their order at a counter and wait for their number to be called from the kitchen.
The interiors resemble an Army Navy restaurant (which is incidentally just beside this one), except with lots of light blue and Chinese characters. The tables are limited and you would have to prepare to wait for a table, especially during peak hours. Nevertheless, service is prompt and staff members constantly roam around to assist customers.
It’s not just the setup that has been adjusted. The food themselves were tweaked with the Filipino diner in mind, the most obvious being that the chicken can be ordered with rice. A gravy dispenser is also available so gravy-loving Filipinos can have their unlimited supply of the sauce (sabaw sa kanin, kumbaga).
Customers can have their taste of the restaurant’s signature item with the Original Large Fried Chicken, though most Filipinos might prefer more the Crispy Large Fried Chicken, which is sweeter and has a crispier skin. The latter is closer in terms of taste to the sort of fried chicken sold in local fast food stores.
The prices are a bit higher here, though not by much, and is about at par with other fast food joints. For instance, the Original Large Fried Chicken costs NTD 60 (PHP 90) in Taipei. Here, it will set you back by PHP 110, or PHP 135 if you order it with rice and a regular-sized drink.
Other items include Chicken Popcorn and Filipino-style Spaghetti (that is, it tastes sweet). There are also chicken sandwiches and some side dishes, like fries and mashed potato. Admittedly, the dishes aren’t as memorable as I hoped, and there’s less variety in the menu. Plus, the sheer size of the chicken can not only overwhelm diners with modest appetites, but also result in umay.
This doesn’t translate to a particularly bad experience, especially since the large fried chickens are definitely worth the price, if we’re simply talking about filling the belly. But what makes Hot-Star tick is that it provides a cheap, accessible and filling meal while you’re walking in the streets of Taipei, so it works better as something to remind you of your recent Taiwan vacation. Otherwise, it’s just like going to fast food joint at some place that’s hard to get to unless you drive your own car.
But it’s still new, and with branches planned in Greenhills and Tomas Morato, here’s hoping the accessibility part would at least be addressed.
Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken
Blue Bay Walk,
Macapagal Avenue corner EDSA,