Arnold's Fried Chicken City Plaza | So Pokking Good

8th Nov 2014
Post by Mu Yao

Arnold's is somewhat of an institution when it comes to serving up with some mean fried chicken. One of the pioneer halal fried chicken outlets in Singapore, it has been in business since 1984, with other outlets at Yishun 10 and Hougang Green Shopping Mall. 30 years of frying chicken. And at this main outlet at City Plaza, its following is evident. 

Despite getting there early at about 5.30PM on a Saturday (way before the dinner time crowds), there was simply no chance — a massive queue had already formed. But because I have had the legendary fried chicken here before and I knew how good it was, I decided to wait 25 minutes anyway. This clearly breaks my normal policy of not believing in hype, as I am normally dubious of establishments with long queues. 

Oh, and just saying, the takeaway queue is much shorter. 

Very atypically Singaporean, I know — but I have my reasons. I believe that if a place has tremendous amount of people, the amount of time you spent waiting in line is not worth the quality of the food, which generally tends to just be slightly above average. This hypothesis worked for places like Lao Fu Zi char kuay teow vs. Lucky Char Kuay Teow (at Old Airport Road Food Centre), and has generally worked for me pretty well ever since. Fine, judge me, I'm weird like that. 

The decor pretty much reminds me of a cheery 90s-inspired fast-food joint. Remember those pop coloured plastic stools at McDonalds' growing up? Yeah, this is macam the new revival.

There's limited seating capacity though, hence the long queues. Basically, the queueing system is this. Queue to get your number and place your order with the outside counter. Wait till your number is called at the counter outside. Pay up, get in the restaurant and they give you this buzzer. When it buzzes, collect the food (see people collecting food) at the inside counter. I suppose this is a smart way of freeing up space inside this pretty cramped restaurant. But hey, it's good fried chicken, so whatcha complain' about?

My friend and I ordered the 2 person combo meal ($23.70), which came with 5 pieces of fried chicken, 2 buns, 2 soft drinks and coleslaw with fries. The portions were huge, and by the end of it all, we were pretty much stuffed. Of course, if you are up for it there are obviously other things on the menu like a potato platter if you are training to be the next Takeru Kobayashi. And old school cola floats, but not like the root beer kind you get at A&W. (Wah, another throwback). And ice kacang, and old-school banana split. Told you about the 90s throwback thing. Everything was better in the 90s, growing up. (Sorry I'm an unapologetic '91 baby, unlike Xin Li)

MASSIVE. FRIED. CHICKEN. GOODNESS. Okay I normally judge people who type in ALL CAPS because I think they are exaggerating, but obviously I have lost all semblance of adult sensibility when I see and smell this big plate of fried chicken. That whiff of saltiness and rich fried chicken smell.... amazing. AND DEM GLISTENING BUNS. MY ANACONDA DON'T WANT NONE UNLESS YOU.... 

Okay, never mind. Reality check. Smell test: Passed. It seems unassuming at first, none of that rocky, crunchy bits of undulating flour and batter that you get at Popeyes/Texas/KFC's "crispy" variants. But when you bite into it, the thin skin is layered with a melt-in-your-mouth layer of chicken fat, and warm, savoury chicken juices instantly drip gently into your hungry mouth and coat your lips in a sensuous wetness. (I feel like I'm writing food porn now, seriously). This blows the fried chicken you have ever had in your life (yeah, whatever, 4fingers) out of the water. The well-seasoned skin is thin yet crispy, and the meat is succulent beyond measure. And despite all that juicy fried chicken goodness, I was pleasantly surprised to note that it wasn't very greasy (definitely less so than all the major fast food chains out there).

See, look at that layer of oil/chicken juice by the skin. (I've licked most of it up already)

But objectively speaking, *turns into food critic mode* I couldn't say the same for all the pieces of chicken though. While the crust was consistently well-seasoned for all pieces, the breast meat was on the dry side. Then again, there were still 4 other pieces of sinful goodness. Oh yes, the buns were pretty decent. Nothing to write home about other than it being a good mop to wipe the excess chicken juices off your lips and into your mouth. And to mop up that sweet chilli sauce.

The fries were pretty decent — crisp and didn't turn soggy/limp easily. It definitely wasn't too oily or greasy like the ones at Macs that turn into flaccid sticks of potato after 5 minutes. It held its crunch, and I also liked the fact that you can season your own fries (it comes without salt) to your liking at the counter. Yay for consumer empowerment.

Overall, this is one instance where an establishment really lives up to its hype — reasonably priced, excellent food. Definitely a good reason for why it has lasted the past 30 years, and hopefully, this formula will stay the same in the next 30 as well.

Classic, old-school fried chicken done brilliantly. A throwback to an era where the Big Mac was really big, the nuggets came with unlimited sauces and the fried chicken tasted so much awesome because it was so much cheaper (yeah, I'm talking about you, KFC).

Thank you Arnold's for giving me a piece of my childhood back.

Open daily: 11.30AM - 10PM
Last order at 9.45PM

810 Geylang Road
City Plaza

Tel: +65 6746 2372


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