San Diego’s fried chicken craze opens first Los Angeles location.
By Sam Catanzaro
The fried-chicken scene in West Los Angeles just got a whole lot spicier with the opening of The Crack Shack in Westfield Century City.
The Crack Shack is already a popular dining option in San Diego, and now founder Michael Rosen and celebrity chef Richard Blais are looking to expand with restaurants planned throughout Southern California. The Century City location, which opened last month, is the first Crack Shack outside of San Diego.
The space in Century City is modern with high ceilings and a futuristic looking bar. Photos of Los Angeles professional athletes wearing chicken-heads don the walls, never letting you forget that you are at a fried-chicken joint.
The menu at Crack Shack to no surprise centers around chicken. Eight of nine of the sandwiches on the menu are chicken-based, either fried, grilled or barbequed. Fried chicken is also available a-la-carte to eat alongside an extensive and unique selection of vegetable bowls.
After much debate, I ordered the Coop DeVille sandwich: fried chicken, pickles, mayo and cabbage on a toasted brioche bun alongside the Border Slaw. This salad of papaya, mango, jicama, coconut, pineapple, lime and chili is a tropical twist on coleslaw.
The sandwich, which cost $12.50, was worth every bite. Often, fried-chicken sandwiches suffer from dry, poor quality meat but at Crack Shack the bird takes center stage. The thick, juicy, lightly breaded and fried chicken breast is tasty enough to eat alone. Much of Crack Shack’s poultry is Jidori chicken, a mixed-breed domestic free-range chicken popular in Japan. Described as the “Kobe beef” of chicken, the Jidori chicken at Crack Shack comes from Jidori Farms, known for their hyper-fresh chicken, killed between 12 and 24 hours before being sold.
On top of this high-quality meat, one can expect high-quality spices at Crack Shack. The seasoning on the Coop DeVille sandwich is smoky and sweet with a spiciness that creeps up on you. Crack Shack’s spice blends come to ground to order from Le Sanctuaire in San Francisco. What makes the sandwich, however, is the heaps of cabbage piled on, whose crisp and citrusy dressing compliments the hearty, smoky meat to perfection.
Further adding to the sandwich is Crack Shack’s unique offering of housemade sauces. A particular standout was the kimchi barbeque sauce, which added a subtle bit of spice and sour to the sandwich. Other sauces of note include a Siracha thousand island spread and something called Cracksup, which is just as good as the name suggests.
The weak link in the meal was the Border Slaw ($5). While the combination of papaya, mango, jicama, coconut, pineapple, lime and chili is interesting and by no means unpalatable, it did not pair well with the smokiness and spiciness of the sandwich. In addition, this slaw suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, with some bites tasting like an appetizer and other bites tasting more like dessert.
Despite my qualms with the Border Slaw, overall the meal was worth it and was good enough to warrant a return trip to Crack Shack. This is because the chicken sandwich was hearty (in retrospect the slaw was unnecessary) and more importantly not easily replicable at home due to the unique mix of spices.
The Crack Shack, located in Westfield Century City at 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, opens at 10:30 a.m. every day and closes at 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Go between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. during the week and enjoy their happy hour which includes $3 off beer and wine and $4 off special food items.
For more information and to see a menu, visit https://www.crackshack.com/