Living in Finsbury Park, my idea of ‘chicken shop’ has come to mean late-night stopovers at greasy joints where a burger, chips and spicy wings cost a couple of quid… even with a can of Mirinda chucked in. But leaving the confines of N4 for proper grub opens up a whole new world of chicken connoisseurs; of which Coqfighter are currently ruling the roost.
Joining the likes of Burger & Beyond and Baba G’s, Coqfighter has gone from humble beginnings as a street food stall to finally operating its first bricks and mortar site. Located on the same stretch that houses renowned restaurants like Flat Iron, Bob Bob Ricard and Polpo, Coqfighter’s new digs are ruffling feathers in Soho and I hatched a plan to see it for myself.
Diving headfirst into the concise cocktail menu, I started with It’s Not Me It’s Yuzu (£7). A refreshing highball combining yuzu with sake, mint and soda, my palate was cleansed and ready to be roused. Teaming layers of chicken with Szechaun mayo, pickled daikon, hot sauce and coriander, the bao (£9 for 2) was a symphony of texture and taste, working in flawless harmony.
Think you know wings? Trust me, you haven’t tried anything until you wrap your lips around these. Not only were k-wings (£6.50) smothered in a wafer-thin batter laced with vodka and sesame, but they also came with two DIY glazes. Armed with a pastry brush, I slathered on lashings of soy garlic and Korean hot sauce, making sure each crispy morsel was drenched in my own sweet and spicy combo.
With towering burgers that seem to clog my Instagram feed on a weekly basis, I had high hopes for the buns here. The drool-worthy Original Burger (£9) layered tender fried chicken thigh between shredded iceberg, tangy pickled red onion, Sambal mayo and Korean hot sauce for a fiery finish. My personal favourite - Honey Ginger Buffalo (£9) - drenched a hunk of meat in honey ginger buffalo sauce and smoked garlic mayo, finished with a necessary crunch from massive house pickles.
Blowing the standard mac n cheese out of the water, cheesy corn (£5) was a gooey mix of creamy cheese and sweetcorn. How these have evaded my stomach for so long, I’ll never know. Even the standard fries (£3) were given a boost with a generous sprinkling of dashi stock and smoked paprika salt. There’s no dish too small for lip-smacking flavour here.
Forgoing our usual dessert ending, we steered towards cocktails. I didn’t quite taste the “Szechaun mist” in the Szechuan Negroni (£8), but it was silky nonetheless. The real gem was the Jalapeño Margarita (£8). As someone who doesn’t even usually like a marg, this gorgeous blend of Jalapeño Espolon Reposado, agave, lime and Togarashi was creamy, delicate and punchy all at the same time.
The DesignMyNight Digest
It’s official: I’ve found some of the best chicken in London... and no, it's not in Finsbury Park. Not only do the Insta-baiting burgers live up to their reputation, but every other item on the menu was just as impressive. Succulent wings, moreish buns, life-changing corn and decent cocktails - all at ridiculously reasonable price points - have cemented Coqfighter's status as proper poultry purveyors.