A few weeks ago, when I visited Rishi Singh of Boheme for a chef chat, we sampled one of his "test kitchen" items, a fried Cornish game hen injected with spiced butter and covered in a chickpea flour mix. At the time, the dish showed promise but was not ready to unleash upon the world. When we cut into it, the butter oozed out deliciously, as it was meant to, but the flavor was not there. "We'll have to work on perfecting that," Singh said, promising to invite me back when the work was done.
Singh and his sous chef, Jordan Economy, have been working out of their food truck for a while now. It's a tiny little space, and on hot days it's really hard to imagine working in such confines for any amount of time, but it's also been their test kitchen, and they're coming up with ideas like busy mad scientists. One of the coolest things to come out of it is "Test Kitchen Tuesdays," which debuted a couple of weeks ago and will continue until the team launch their new menu in November. I couldn't make it to the first one, which offered Bangkok fish 'n' chips, but this week, when they announced that they would be offering their fried Cornish game hen, I made it a point to return.
Tuesday nights at Boheme are relaxing. As I walked in, there was a small table set up in the front with a local vendor selling jewelry and scarves. I met my girlfriend, and we plopped ourselves in a corner with a drink as we got caught up on life.
The Test Kitchen Tuesday menus are stapled to the regular menu, and on offer this Tuesday night we had three options: $16 for "Let's go all the way," which included the hen and Asianesque potato salad with Feight Ale from 8th Wonder Brewery; $12 for "I just want the fried hen!," which included the hen and a side of potato salad; and "$4 for "I'll drink my dinner, thx." which was the Feight Ale only.
Not being big beer lovers, we went for "I just want the fried hen!" And, oh my goodness.
Because mosquitos love me, we had opted to eat indoors, which meant that when the hen was delivered we were sitting on a couch with no table in front of us. It wasn't the most comfortable position to dine in, but the gorgeously fried, gloriously golden and crispy hen and mound of slightly curried "Asianesque" potato salad needed to be eaten, and fast.
Pulling my hair back and layering napkins on my lap and the front of my dress, I balanced the plate of food on my knees as I picked up the hen and pulled it apart at the wing and thigh. The Aleppo-spiced butter oozed out, just as intended, and with it, a mouthwatering aroma and just-fried whoosh of steam. And the flavor.
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Where the first taste test I'd had was bland, this one burst with flavor. It was savory, with a hint of spice, buttery and juicy, with a crispy outside that had no hint of oil. Quite frankly, it was magnificent. I'd even say that it was the best-tasting twist on a fried chicken I'd ever had, and that wouldn't be hyperbole.
The kicker was the Asianesque potato salad, which had the slightest hint of curry to it and a mild creaminess that paired with the crispy, lick-your-fingers fried hen to perfection. I made easy work of the fowl, stripping it down to its bare bones despite telling myself before it was served that I would eat only half of it.
"You have to put this on the regular menu," I said when Singh and Economy stopped by to check on us. "It was truly, truly awesome."
I can't wait to see what's in store for the weeks to come at the Test Kitchen.