Every once in a while, in spite of all the classier options made easily accessible to us South kids, we clamor for the familiarity of fast food. Pimpin’ ain’t easy (nor cheap), so when we think no one is looking, it is a nice change of pace to eat somewhere that doesn’t break the bank. This is where our neighborhood fast food joints come in, and KFC has always been a favorite of mine due to the relatively wide variety of rice meals that they have as well as the regular addition of new items to their menu.
KFC’s latest creations are the Jamaican Curry Rice Bowl and the Osaka Teriyaki Rice Bowl. Items with promising names such as these evoke feelings of excitement and I couldn’t wait to get my fill of their new offerings. Usually a Zinger-or-2-piece-Hot-and-Crispy-Chicken type of guy, I was looking forward to possibly adding new items to my arsenal. At the introductory price of Php 99 for the a la carte option, it was a perfect example of a low-risk, high-reward situation.
The Jamaican Curry Rice Bowl was a treat to myself after a grueling night of basketball. I actually planned on ordering an additional sandwich due to my growling tummy but I sure as heck am glad I didn’t since the dish was pretty filling. Chicken bites similar in size to Hot Shots sans the heat sit atop what seems to be pandan rice, topped with carrots and potatoes simmered in a mild curry, garnished with spring onions. The chicken was solid as usual, crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside. The rice was underwhelming, stale and lacking in flavor, but this wasn’t all that surprising. The vegetables added volume to ensure that the diner would leave with a full stomach. The spring onions were a bit much, so feel free to set them aside before you dig in. The curry, which I was excited to sample, was simply okay. There was a level of heat enough to tickle the throat, but overall the depth of flavor usually associated with good curry was lacking. Then again, for its price, I can’t really justify complaining.
Verdict — I wouldn’t feel bad eating this, but this isn’t something I’d ever crave for.
I tried the Osaka Teriyaki Rice Bowl during one of my many forays into the Food Court at Town (Alabang Town Center for you North folk!). In search of a meal to fill the belly at a reasonable price, I took a chance and (spoiler alert!) was extremely disappointed. The chicken bites were smaller than the ones served in the curry dish. Hoping for special rice exclusive to this dish, white rice did not elicit any such joy. The cabbage and carrots seemed like an afterthought due to the lack of any seasoning. Worst of all, the teriyaki sauce was, quite simply, bland. I doubt that even doubling the amount of sauce served would have saved the dish. To add insult to injury, I chose the spicy option (the cashier asked if I wanted plain or spicy), and there wasn’t even a smidgen of heat to be found. Even at less than a hundred pesos, for what you get, I’d say this item is overpriced.
Verdict — Never again. If I have to drive another 15 minutes to find something else, so be it.
So there you have it! You’d be hard-pressed to think of how a complete meal below Php 100 can fall short of expectations but the Osaka Teriyaki Rice Bowl did just that. Compared to the excellent Spicy Gangnam Rice Bowl, KFC’s newest creations lacked the flavorful punch that helps customers travel around the world when they close their eyes upon taking a bite. Adding one or two vital spices to the curry and adding a tropical component to the dish would do wonders to add some much-needed authenticity. For the teriyaki, I suggest that they conceptualize from ground zero again since the dish tasted very far off from what I imagined.
Have you tried either of these two dishes and have a different experience? Feel free to share in the comments section below!