Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Lawson, Seicomart and 7-Eleven go into battle again this month as the Experience Niseko team decide who has the best convenience store chicken.

In what is no surprise to those who've tried it, Japanese convenience store fried chicken is considered to be amongst the best fried chicken in the world. So much so that celebrity chef David Chang features it in the fried chicken episode of his global travel and cooking series, Ugly Delicious

So we sat down to trial, review and rank Niseko's finest chicken nuggets. 

Karaage Nuggets

Description: deep-fried in oil and lightly marinated, this is fried chicken Japanese-style. 

Conbini Fried Chicken Lr 7139

Evan: Mmm, this is good. Slightly crunchy on the outside but soft and moist on the inside. A light soy seasoning gives this a little extra something and it’s hard to find any faults. It’s perhaps just a little cold and I think it might’ve been sitting there a while. 4.5/5

Nolan: Seicomart have nailed the karaage formula here as the gentle hints of soy sauce and subtle salt round off the eating experience. 4/5

Vicky: How can fried chicken taste so delicious yet feel so healthy at the same time? Not too oily and tastes pretty close to something you'd get from a good izakaya. 4/5

How much and from where: ¥280 from Seicomart

Regular Fried Nuggets

Description: this is the western-style fried chicken with a slightly less crunchy exterior than the karaage. Seasoned with salt and pepper. 

Conbini Fried Chicken Lr 7141

Nolan: A bit of flavour and aroma from black pepper but nothing special. 3/5

Vicky: Seicomart haven’t quite got this western-style fried chicken right. Batter is soggy and it feels like it's sat in the Hot Chef for a bit too long. Someone is definitely having a bad day and went a bit too heavy on the pepper seasoning.  3/5

Evan: I disagree, this is so good too! Softer than the karaage but just as delicious, this is the classic, western-style fried chicken texture and taste. I love fried chicken, I’m going to give all of these high scores, just watch. 4.5/5

How much and from where: ¥280 from Seicomart

Cheese Nuggets

Description: part of the Lawson novelty range featuring the 'Karaage-kun' illustrated character packaging, these are chicken nuggets injected with cheese and come rather bizarrely recommended by Katy Perry.

Conbini Fried Chicken Lr 7148

Evan: Oh no! So, I immediately retract that previous comment. What on Earth is this? If this were a blind taste test, I’d swear that’s just a soft block of rather flavourless and dry cheese. It’s certainly not chicken, is it? 2/5.

Nolan: I don't think so... it tastes like a soggy Cheeto and sits heavy in the belly. 2/5

Vicky: 1.8g of sugar per piece should've been a good enough warning sign to not eat this. Tastes more artificial than cheese puffs and a lot less like chicken. I feel cheated on - give me back my calories! 2/5

How much and from where: ¥216 from Lawson

Red Nuggets

Description: Lawson's attempt at spicy nuggets, hot throughout and seasoned with spice. 

Conbini Fried Chicken Lr 7160

Vicky: A good kick of spice but not enough to burn your tongue off (unless you have zero tolerance to spice like Nolan). Bite sized popcorn chicken makes a good snack - just wish there was more in the pack. 4/5

Evan: Ergh, same processed and fake texture as the cheese one, but with a little spicyness, which I guess elevates this slightly. At least there is some flavour. It’s certainly not spicy – despite what Nolan is about to say. 3/5

Nolan: Tongue pain. 2/5

How much and from where: ¥216 from Lawson

Lemon Nuggets

Description: the last of the Karaage-kun range is the lemon infused chicken nuggets. A limited edition and part of a rotating series of special flavours. 

Conbini Fried Chicken Lr 7165

Vicky: Japan has an obsession with releasing limited edition seasonal flavours and this is one of them. But unlike other seasonal fried chicken flavours like teriyaki or garlic steak, this is one I sincerely hope NEVER returns due to popular demand. If spoiled lemonade and salted mashed chicken had a child, this would be it. Straight up weird. I've now learnt my lesson about falling for the cute packaging. 1/5

Evan: Oh man, pass me a glass of water. I like my Asahi beer Super Dry, but not my chicken. This makes me sympathise with the little chicken character on the box. Look at him. He’s grimacing in pain having eaten this weird, dry, lemon-flavoured chicken. I know how you feel, little buddy. I would have preferred just a fresh wedge of lemon. Squeezed directly in to my eyeballs. 1/5

Nolan: Pretty much a flat soda with melted ice-cubes in mush form on a warm summer's day. 1/5

How much and from where: ¥216 from Lawson

Zangi Nuggets

Description: Just as karaage are Japanese style nuggets, zangi are the local Hokkaido take on this global treat. Crunchy, salty and full of bite.

Conbini Fried Chicken Lr 7169

Nolan: The real deal. From crunch to texture to how it looks. This is actual chicken! 5/5 

Evan: Thank god. This one’s the best. As the professional packaging shows, this is convenience store chicken for grown-ups, not some gimmick for kids. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. This feels like chicken should, it tastes like chicken should. I’m emotional. 5/5

Vicky: Dirty fried chicken at its best and the konbini fried chicken winner. Even though we tried this one last, it still tastes the best. Satisfying bite with a good amount of salt and grease to keep you wanting more. With a beer and an onigiri, this would make the perfect late night meal. Full marks! 5/5 

How much and from where: ¥300 from 7-Eleven

For those who missed out on our pork bun review, check it out here