Story and Media by Jonnathan Benites-Bernardini and Monique A. LeBleu
The last couple of years has brought a surge of fried chicken sandwiches to the LA dining scene. Places like Howlin’ Rays, Freerange, Birdies – who all specialize in fried chicken – have hit the dining scene hard, but this doesn’t stop new contenders from joining the race. Enter South City Fried Chicken – the brainchild of Co-owner and Executive Chef Samuel “Sammy” Monsour, and Co-owner Joshua Kopel who brought Preux & Proper, an ode to southern cooking, to life in the downtown Los Angeles restaurant mix.
South City Fried Chicken is their second love letter to the south. South City is beyond the fried chicken sandwich norm and they dedicate a sandwich to big cities in the south, like the New Orleans, LA; the Austin, TX; the Nashville, TN; the Chapel Hill, NC; the Miami, FL; the Greenville, SC; the Birmingham, AL; and the Louisville, KY – tailoring each sandwich to represent a different city by using ingredients found in the local cuisine.
Each sandwich is as eclectic as the city with its namesake. Like the Austin, TX – it’s a blend of “Mexican, Tex-Mex, and hipsters” according to Chef Monsour – with ingredients like red bean hummus, spicy pickled radishes, blue corn tortilla crumbles, homemade hot sauce, and burrata. The creaminess of the burrata and spicy-brightness from the radishes and hot sauce, salty crunch of the blue corn, and garlicky Rojo bean hummus offer a variety of flavors and textures that complement the fried chicken. The chicken on its own is perfection. The hunk of boneless, skinless chicken breast is so moist and juicy. The dredge is light, and it holds its own on the meat to create a good crunch. Add the accouterments and you get a pretty unbelievable and memorable sandwich.
Speaking of memorable, there was the collard green kimchi. The collard green kimchi is a unique ingredient added to the New Orleans, LA sandwich.
“I do a kimchi with collard greens,” said Chef Monsour, as he hand-tossed kimchi marinating in the coolers. “For the most part, this is a very standard flavor profile. Except that I just keep the ginger out of it because I want it to be more on the zesty, garlicky, spicy side.”
The NOLA sando pays homage to its Southern roots with creole remoulade and Cajun spice, but also blends in newer culinary influences like Thai basil, ginger miso BBQ, Benne (heirloom sesame) seeds, and the aforementioned collard green kimchi.
“The Benne seeds are a genesis crop from West Africa,” said Chef Monsour. “They came to the Carolinas 400 years ago.”
To top it off, he adds a fried egg for good measure. The collard green kimchi adds a great element of spice and acid that cuts through the richness of the fried chicken and yolk. This sandwich is well-rounded in flavor and texture. Chef Monsour has expertly chosen ingredients that not only make his sandwiches stand out, but also are cohesive enough that they create a spectacular sandwich – one that can rival any other in the food scene right now.
Because it’s never hot enough in LA (yeah, right), Monsour has also created an off the menu sandwich known as the Hellfire. It’s aptly named, as this sandwich contains the hottest fried chicken on the menu, his Nashville Hot Chicken with a special spice blend combining nine peppers: Ancho, Guajillo, Chipotle, Chile de Arbol, Cayenne, Habanero, Ghost, Carolina Reaper, and Satan’s Blood.
The peppers alone will frighten the best of us, the challenge was accepted. Upon first glance, the fried chicken has a darker hue as the spices are embedded into the dredge, seeping into the chicken so every bite is just as hot. The first bite is the hardest. Your eyes will tear, your nose will run and you might let out a cough or two, but it’s worth the burn. Don’t fret, the cooling agents – the Cookout Slaw and quick-pickled cucumbers – will help your mouth from being completely enveloped in heat. If you’re still running hot after finishing your sando, then grab a cup or cone of their newly-added Dole Whip.
The Memphis Juke Joint Fries with Memphis rib rub, Abita Turbodog® Brown Ale cheese sauce, house smoked chicken bacon, shaved jalapeno, and cilantro makes both a hearty stand-alone or sharable sando accompaniment with its smooth, smoky bacon flavor and slathering of creamy-rich cheese sauce. Those fries must be had!
South City Fried Chicken has everything we didn’t know we wanted and are a great addition to the Corporation Food Hall. They’ve seamlessly made downtown their home and we could not be happier.
South City Fried Chicken is in the Corporation Food Hall at 724 South Spring Street, DTLA, Los Angeles, CA, 90014; (323)-278-0008