September 17, 2013

Fried and Crispy, But Not So Golden: Tango Chicken in Collegetown

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By KAY XIAO

Not knowing what to expect from Collegetown’s newest eatery Tango Chicken, other than of course, chicken, I ventured into the colorful restaurant located at 104 Dryden to discover just exactly what Tango Chicken offered. While the restaurant’s windowpane boasted organic chicken, what awaited me inside exceeded my expectations. My experience at Tango Chicken was nothing short of unpredictable.

I just want to preface this review by saying I love fried chicken. The greasy, juicy, crispy finger lickin’ food has to be one of my favorites. All I need is fried chicken and a side of buttery, fluffy biscuits and life is good. So upon scanning Tango Chicken’s menu, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Tango Chicken’s selections revolved around fried chicken. The menu included a small selection of desserts, beverages and a house salad, too — but organic fried chicken comprised the bulk of the menu. With a straightforward and basic selection of choices on the menu, the Dinner Supreme Box allowed me the option to mix and match six pieces of chicken, drumsticks, wings, thighs or tenders. I opted for wings, tenders and a chicken thigh. The meal also came with three options for sides including a small romaine salad, three small fried spring rolls and three bite-sized pieces of cheesecake for the price of $15.99.

Initially the meal seemed a little pricey. Fried chicken for one doesn’t usually exceed around ten bucks, but I decided the Dinner Supreme Box was big enough to share. This turned out to work perfectly. Split amongst two, the portions and the price evened out to a pretty good deal.

While the service was quick and friendly, the meal itself, served in a bento style box with paper plates and plastic silverware, proved to be a little odd. The fast-food vibe and set-up was somewhat offsetting to the colorful, dine-in restaurant environment. While the fried chicken didn’t disappoint — it was hot and fresh, golden and crisp — all the components of the meal didn’t work as harmoniously as they could have. The Asian spring rolls filled with carrots and cabbage, though appetizing, added an excessively fried element to an already fried meal and generally failed to complement the fried chicken. The lighter romaine salad, mixed sparingly with cherry tomatoes and a few blueberries didn’t come with dressing and tasted bland. On a more positive note, the little cheesecake bites — one raspberry, one chocolate and one plain — were creamy and delicious. Everything by itself wasn’t bad, but offered together, was awkward and incompatible. Perhaps if the restaurant offered some more traditional options or a variety of sides to choose from, the overall meal would have been more cohesive and appealing.

Albeit the somewhat confusing concept — spring rolls and organic fried chicken have never gone hand in hand in my mind — the restaurant offers what many students are looking for, namely freshly fried chicken. And in a student community abundant in bagel delis, pizza hubs, burger joints and Asian restaurants, fried chicken is a welcome newcomer. While I probably wouldn’t order the Dinner Supreme Box again, a fried chicken craving might prompt me to order just the eight piece chicken meal that comes without the sides.

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