Can you still call a dish that's half fried chicken a salad? Probably not. But who cares? This, ladies and gents, is the salad you want to eat when you want to say you ate a salad, but you were actually craving something fried and something chicken. I ordered it one night for take-out, opened it at home and to my delight, saw an acre of bite-sized pieces of deep-fried battered chicken covering the entire visible spectrum of the box. What amounts to an entire order of their popcorn chicken tiled my large Styrofoam container, from one corner to the other.
Just to make sure they got my order right, I dug beneath the layer of
chicken. Yup. They didn't forget the salad part; there was enough of
the fancy spring mix (frisee, spinach, arugula, etc.) to match the
chicken bite-for-bite. But wait, what's this? There's also pieces of
fruit in it. I found bits of sweet mangoes, pineapple, kiwi,
strawberries, raisins, crushed peanuts, and corn kernels commingling with the
Thousand-Island-like dressing and the greens.
I realized about then that this the was the dish I should've been
ordering from Guppy House all along. I've always enjoyed the Taiwanese-style dive's
spice-dusted kernels of popcorn chicken with rice, or by itself as a
snack with a big old glass of boba milk tea. But this is a much better
way to eat them. The fruit, which is part of the restaurant's shaved ice and ice cream dessert
mise-en-place, turned out to be the perfect foil to the chicken's crunch
and the salad greens' bitterness. Flavor wise, the sum of its parts becomes
greater than the individual components. And though the chicken might outweigh the salad, it's still salad, right? Yes, keep telling yourself that.