Houston's Best Sandwiches: Peri Chicken at Peli Peli Kitchen

Jam packed with flavor: the fried Peri Chicken sandwich at Peli Peli Kitchen.
Jam packed with flavor: the fried Peri Chicken sandwich at Peli Peli Kitchen. Photo by Jeff Balke
We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

Since it opened in 2009, Peli Peli has impressed critics with its unique South African cuisine, so much so that they have expanded to multiple locations including a pair of Peli Peli Kitchen (9090 Katy Freeway and 101 North Loop West) fast-casual concepts. I stopped by the location inside the Whole Foods 365 on the North Loop to sample what I had heard was a rather different chicken sandwich.

Truth is, Peli Peli is pretty different in general, so no shock a sandwich they put on the menu would be as unique as the rest of their food, but does that necessarily make it good? In this case, the answer is a resounding hell yeah, it does.

The Peri Peri chicken is a staple of their menu. Fortunately, they made the wise decision to fry it and stick it between two buns because isn't everything better that way? Like their standalone menu item, the chicken on the sandwich is marinated in their signature sauce before being deep fried, covered in more sauce and slapped on brioche (yay!) with crispy onions, sweet peppadew peppers, cilantro and "Peri-naise," their house-made aioli.

One piece of advice: eat fast. This sandwich is juicy and, as such, the brioche can start to give way if you let it sit. But, no way I trade it for heartier carbs. The soft brioche bun is absolutely perfect with the crunchy chicken. And all the accompanying items like the crispy onions, sweet peppers and cilantro add to a wonderful mix of savory flavors.

But the stars here are the chicken and the Peri-naise. The chicken is radically tender. To give you an idea, I sliced it in half to make for easier eating (and to perhaps save some of those nearly 800 calories for tomorrow's lunch) with a recyclable knife from Whole Foods. It went through the meat like it was a finely sharpened steak knife cutting through a stick of softened butter.

And the marinade mixed with that dressing creates a wonderfully rich and flavorful combination with a hint of smokiness and wonderful depth. I took a couple bites of the chicken on its own just to make sure it wasn't something else. Nope. That bird with a bit of that mayo is divine.

I often hit Whole Foods to get a salad or some kind of pre-prepared lunch. Granted, my diet might not survive a daily routine of Peri Chicken sandwiches, but it sure will be hard to walk past that counter on my way to the kale next time.

If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke