When you know how to fry things perfectly, you may as well fry everything. And Krispy’s, a new family-owned fried chicken, er, fried everything restaurant at 3009 S. Hillside does just that.
John Nguyen opened Krispy’s in August in the same neighborhood as Chiang Mai, Wichita’s best out-of-the-way Thai place. Krispy’s operates out of a tiny building formerly occupied by a string of Mexican and Asian restaurants, and the concept mimics a successful restaurant some of Nguyen’s friends run in Texas. The menu is populated by fried chicken in all forms (pieces, strips, wings, nuggets, even gizzards) plus fried shrimp, fried catfish, chicken fried steak, fried pork chops, fried okra, fried corn nuggets, fried mac and cheese, fried jalapeno poppers, fried ice cream, fried brownie bits and more. It also includes chicken and waffles, a hard-to-find Soul-food delicacy that decadently combines a a lunch and a breakfast favorite.
What makes Krispy’s chicken special is the breading, which results in skin that is crispy and flaky with a texture that almost looks like Rice Krispies cereal. The greasiness factor is surprisingly low, too. (I asked Nguyen how he achieved this heavenly skin, and he just laughed at me. He’s not sharing that secret.)
The food at Krispy’s is inexpensive. The staff is all friendly. And whoever updates the restaurant’s Facebook page is a whiz with the camera and makes the food look as good, if not better, than it does in person – a rare skill in Facebook food photography. But perhaps my favorite thing about the restaurant is that, even though the kitchen is producing pounds of deep fried food every hour, the dining room does not smell of fried food, and neither will you when you leave.
On a recent artery-clogging visit, I took a tour of the fried menu, starting with the dish I’d been dreaming about since I first saw it pictured on Facebook: chicken and waffles. Krispy’s, which has several dine-in tables but is carryout friendly, serves its version in a Styrofoam to-go container. I ordered the two-piece chicken and waffles and got a breast and thigh piece that were nestled on top of a cinnamon-spiked, powdered sugar-topped waffle and served with a packet of maple syrup. It was sweet-and-savory heaven with the crunchy chicken, the spongy waffle and the sticky syrup, though I wish I hadn’t ordered so hastily. It was difficult to assemble the perfect bite while having to remove the chicken from the bone. I realized later that I could have ordered the dish with three boneless tenders instead. That’s what I’d do next time.
We also ordered a five-piece chicken dinner, which was so huge, it had to be delivered in two disposable food boats. The multi-piece meals can be ordered with all dark meat, all white meat, or mixed, and we chose the latter. Each piece was big and crunchy. The next time I need fried chicken for a crowd, I’d definitely order Krispy’s 24-piece mixed.
We also liked the catfish, which can be ordered as part of a dinner that includes fries, salad and a roll. The filet had a nice cornmeal breading, and the fish inside was white and flaky, and most important, it tasted fresh. Krispy’s has either packaged white tarter sauce, or diners can get the restaurant’s homemade spicy tarter sauce, which had only a slight kick.
The sauces were a little bit of an issue though. Though the spicy tarter sauce was fine, it didn’t have that pickle relish flavor I crave, and I wish a homemade rather than packaged plain tarter sauce was available, too. Also, there’s no self-service ketchup available, which cramped our French-fry style. A neighboring table had a bottle of their own, so next time, we’ll ask. And the Ranch dressing tasted straight from the Hidden Valley bottle. One of the joys of dining out is having that higher-quality restaurant Ranch, which tastes fresh and creamy rather than preservative-filled and bottled.
We weren’t crazy about the fries, and it wasn’t just because of our lack of ketchup. The super-crunch the Krispy’s fryers give the chicken does not translate well to potatoes. The fries had a strange almost crystallized outside texture, and the inside tasted of grease.
But we did enjoy other side dishes, including the corn nuggets, which featured sweet cream corn inside a crunchy casing, and the triangular bites of fried macaroni and cheese, which the kids in our party loved.
The most memorable part of our meal was the ending, when we splurged on an order of fried ice cream. Krispy’s is a superior delivery of this popular dessert, and theirs featured cinnamon-flavored ice cream fried inside their fluffy, crunch coating. Diners can choose toppings including chocolate syrup, honey, whipped cream and cherries.
The building doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the dining room was tidy, bright and felt clean. Customers order at the counter, then the friendly servers deliver the food piping hot from the kitchen as each dish is finished.
Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.
Krispy’s Fried Chicken & Seafood
☆☆☆ out of four
Where: 3009 S. Hillside, 316-765-7574
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays
Type of food: Fried chicken, fried shrimp, fried catfish, fried everything
Cost: Five-piece mixed chicken for $5.99. 24-piece mixed for $23.99. Other entrees range from $4.99 to $11.99.