Undeniably, there is a proliferation of chicken shops in close proximity to Queen Mary, and if one closes down due to health and safety reasons or dubious insurance issues, another inevitably takes its place. This concrete example of the cycle of life in all its finger lickin’ good sublimity, demonstrates how integral chicken shops are to the cultural life of East London.
It is irrefutable that there is a hierarchy of the chicken shops on Mile End Road. There are the more humble establishments, such as Dixie and Perfect Fried Chicken, then ascending to the higher echelons you arrive at The Golden Fryer. These are the usual haunts for the standard post-morning seminar lunch. However, if you are feeling frivolous or are in one of those unaccountably bourgeois moods there is the opportunity to eat like chicken royalty at Rooster’s Piri Piri, or in a hedonistic splurge, go one better and visit Nando’s.
As a fried chicken aficionado, I would argue that the aforementioned ‘more humble establishments’ offer the most authentic Mile End cuisine experience. Any speculation that these smaller chicken shops are serving fried bat, horse or shark meat as a substitute to chicken is purely based on myth and frankly, I wouldn’t care if it was true. In addition, in these places, there is the potential for the erratic, the entertaining and the surreal that nowhere else can offer. Once I left a certain chicken shop near to Mile End Park at the exact moment that all of its electrical supply failed and it went into blackout. I think it may have been down to Dementors, but stoically enough, the shop remained open for business nonetheless.
The chicken shop is a counterpoint to all of that healthy-eating, salubrious living propaganda that is superimposed upon us on a daily basis. In essence, it is refreshing to be able to go somewhere to eat that ensures that all of its food contains a gratuitous amount of grease and salt. If you are one of those people who intransigently refuses to go anywhere near a chicken shop, due to the prospect of developing a multiplicity of digestive problems (that I now have), then I guess you should just go back to Box Noodle and then burn some calories at QMotion.