Pittsburgh Chicken and Subs has had multiple owners over its nearly 25 years in business. But despite the multiple changes, the restaurant has remained a Los Alamitos favorite— keeping the famous recipe intact with made-to-order broasted chicken.
Don't forget: Not everyone can call themselves broasted chicken. It's a particular process: when meat hits the oil, it sears it and cooks it to the bone sealing in all the juices for a plump, succulent golden bird whose crispy skin stays intact with every bite. Inventor L.A.M. Phelan patented the stainless-steel pressure cooker and deep fryer necessary to broast chicken, and trademarked the term "Broaster" and recipe process. There's only a few broasted chicken palaces left in Orange County, and all have to follow the company’s preparation, cooking the chicken in the manufactured pressure fryer, and use Broaster's Chickite marinade and Slo-Bro seasoning.
In 1992, original owners Amel and Maryann Trasport, brought Pittsburgh to Katella — initially named Pittsburgh Chicken and Taters. It was Amel’s visit to his uncle’s restaurant—The Harold Inn in Hopewell, Pennsylvania (that has served broasted chicken and taters for 57 years!)—that inspired the restaurant and homage to his native hometown. “That’s why it was called Pittsburgh chicken—it has a Pennsylvania flavor to it,” says Amel.
He compares the original seasoning to Lawry’s but with a bunch of don’t-worry-about-it family secret spices. The broasted taters are equally famous, slabs of potato discs crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and seasoned just right. “When we sold the restaurant, we asked the original buyers to please keep the recipe,” says Maryann. Amel and his wife are also responsible for creating delicious customoer favorite flavors like Cajun and lemon pepper.
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Today, the Kims operate the restaurant, keeping things just as they have always been. The simple take-out-set-up is still adorned with all of Trasport’s Steelers and Pirates memorabilia. To the left of the counter is a stand with handwritten specials that Maryann had written using a felt tip pen years ago. Now, owner Yoon Kim and his wife Young run the shop with the help of their daughter Yoomi, a college student at Cal State Fullerton.
Yoon, who has owned Pittsburgh Chicken for 10 years, says he’s seen his customers grow up. As the phone rings off the hook, a regular walks through the door and Mr. Kim already knows their order, “Eight-piece chicken family pack, original,” he says.
Pittsburgh Chicken and Subs, 3671 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-0140; www.pittsburghchicken.com