Since I hadn’t eaten on campus for a while, I decided to try out BBQ Premium Chicken, a global chain known for their chicken fried with olive oil. Located just south of the Spurlock Museum and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, BBQ Premium Chicken is in a convenient location for students and staff. Less convenient for those of us off campus, which is why I made my trip while the university wasn’t in session. Entering BBQ Premium Chicken, I immediately noticed the bold primary colors of the walls and chairs throughout the restaurant. After my brief distraction, I noticed the hard the sizeable digital menu behind the counter, so I went up and placed my order after a prompt greeting from staff. While waiting, I initially sat down on one of the many metal chairs. However, I soon moved to a padded booth after getting a bit sore in my previous seat. As I tapped my foot to pop music of origin unknown to me, my food arrived roughly ten minutes after ordering.
To begin, I ate the Fried Dumplings ($2.45), the lightest item on my tray. Smelling lightly of fried pork, I chewed through the crispy, flaky exterior to the soft, meaty center. Unsurprisingly, spiced pork was the dominant flavor, with an aftertaste of scallion I appreciated as it broke up the flavor. Before I knew it, my dumplings were gone. While great for those wanting a light snack, the Fried Dumplings did nothing to sate my appetite.
Still starving, I quickly dug into my second side, this time a large container of Sweet Potato Fries ($2.45). Unlike the dumplings, these sweet potato fries were hearty and arrived in a quantity suitable for sharing with friends. Crunchy, but not burnt, and without any added salt or brown sugar, these fries were just right. As a person who almost always dips fries into ketchup, fries good enough that they don’t need ketchup are rare in my life. I wholeheartedly recommend sweet potato fries as a side at BBQ Premium Chicken.
No longer ravenously hungry, I grabbed hold of one of my two pieces of Gang-jeong Chicken ($5.50 for two pieces) and took a bite. Drenched in a sweet and smoky sauce with a kick, I’m glad I tried this sauce option, since it wasn’t as sweet as I’d feared it would be. As for the chicken itself, the fried outer layer was crispy despite the coating of sauce. Inside, I was pleased by the juicy, tender chicken that required minimal effort to separate from the bone.
Making short work of my first two chicken pieces, the Sweet Spicy Chicken ($5.50 for two pieces) was up next. Thankfully, I can report these chicken pieces were just as crispy and juicy as the previous ones with the only difference being the sweet, slightly spicy sauce. As a warning, I did need a trip to the bathroom sink, as no number of napkins proved capable of removing the sticky sauce from my fingertips.
As a palate cleanser, I finished with the Original Chicken ($5 for two pieces). As I hoped, BBQ Premium Chicken makes fried chicken good enough to enjoy without any additional sauce or spices. Since I have yet to mention it, there is more flesh on these chicken pieces than first glance indicates. The second largest piece of chicken in these pictures contained only three small lengths of bone. All the rest was sweet, tender chicken.
Having eaten all my chicken and sides, I slowly rose and disposed of my trash, being careful not to throw away my trays, thanks to the helpful signs nearby. Reflecting on my time at BBQ Premium Chicken, I had a fairly good experience overall, although the pricing of the wings and dumplings struck me as just a bit too high. After experiencing the vast difference in food value delivered by the sweet potato fries versus the dumplings, I know what to steer clear of on a return visit. Next time, I plan on ordering something more complex from the menu. Maybe a curry, or if I’m feeling like some variety their bento box option. Regardless, I know I’ll be back to BBQ Premium Chicken one day, although I’ll watch what I order as to keep down the cost of the bill.
BBQ Premium Chicken
700 S Gregory St
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Photos by Matthew Macomber