For quite a while now, Nashville Hot Chicken has been taking the country by storm. Though it’s been a staple in Nashville for decades, it’s only recently that the rest of us have come to worship at the spicy chicken table. And let me be clear here – this chicken isn’t merely spicy. It. Is. H-A-W-T.
Mister and I first crossed paths with Nashville Hot Chicken in our own kitchen. (You can read about that here.) Because the recipe we used provided our taste buds with such delicious heat, we were hooked. We’ve made the chicken since and we still love it.
Cut to last year and enter “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck. The press on this was huge and social media was exploding with some of the greatest food porn around. I kept trying to hit up the joint, but schedules never meshed. They were only rolling around L.A. a few days each week and in case you’ve forgotten, L.A. is big, y’all. So if my bid-ness had me on the east side and the
crack chicken truck was on the west side, it just wasn’t gonna happen. And it didn’t.
In the meantime, I had a nice email relationship going with them and knew that eventually our paths would cross. And then the “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck stopped rolling. At first, I was devastated. (And remember – I hadn’t even had their chicken yet.) Then I came to understand a brick-and-mortar was in the works. Hooray! And so I, along with the rest of town, waited. The last week of April saw the shop finally opening.
Last weekend Mister and I headed to Chinatown for an introduction to “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken. As the joint had only been open a few days, we planned for a wait. Which we got. And were fine with. Anyhoo – we and a diverse group of Los Angeles food dorks waited patiently for our lunch. And we were rewarded with some fairly magnificent food, I tell ya. All in, our wait was about an hour. And when our number was called and we beheld that gorgeous chicken, we didn’t even pause long enough to take a danged photo. We just dug in. And it was fabulous.
For anyone planning a trip to Chinatown for some “Howlin’ Ray’s” love, I offer this: medium is good. Mister and I both thought that level of heat was flavorful and bearable. We got some hot chicken to take home (1 step up from medium) and it was a bit too much for us. We felt that at that level, the heat overpowered the flavor. So medium it is. But do go. If you’ve never been to Chinatown, give yourself some time to stroll around and enjoy yourself. And take some tissue. “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken will, in all likelihood, give you a bit of a runny nose. And you’ll be so glad for it.