Chiquen (Wood Green)
Chiquen is a vibrantly colourful restaurant that’s a visually stimulating delight. Begin with the word Chiquen – an obvious misspelling of the word chicken. Now, if you’re paying close enough attention to the ultra-busy decor, you’ll spot more of these misspellings, such as Bad & Brakefast, as a deliberate ploy to catch the diner’s attention. And it works too, as do the many ornaments and photos of places and countries from around the world decorating this place. There’s even a grass patio strip at the back, albeit artificial, that adds to the overall experience. In the end though, the place certainly succeeds in offering that street food vibe with effective lighting to match.
Of course, chicken is the humble draw here, so you might be forgiven for comparing this to Nando’s. But you soon come to realise why this easily gives said big boys a run for their money. While Nando’s is inspired by a single locale, Chiquen is inspired by many, a fact no better demonstrated than by its own unique sauces:
- Sicilian Mild
- Old Delhi Spicy
- Mozambique Fiery
- Malaccan Volcanic
It’s this final puzzle, then, that allows you to finally work out and appreciate the story behind Chiquen: while it has always remained a constant staple of our diet, ultimately it’s the inspired imagination of the people that makes the humble chicken so successful.
Above average shakes with the Salted Caramel – thick and well balanced with tasty toffee bits to enjoy – conspicuously better than its Chocolate cousin.
The Coolers were quite inspired. The Mint was mint indeed – strong in taste and that too in spite of all the ice. The same was true of the Berry.
These slushies, on the other hand, were INSPIRATIONAL (and we don’t capitalise our adjectives very often), period! It wasn’t just the Sicilian lemon flavoured ice slush that was perfectly… slushed, but how ultra refreshing these were.
It didn’t matter that the mango was subtle in coming through, the Berry easily made amends…
… while the Guava was by far the most flavourful of the three. Absolutely yummy! What’s more, these slushies would put Duracell to shame. Even after 30 minutes on a relatively warm day, the lemon flavoured ice ensured that, in terms of yumminess, these kept on going and going and going.
Our only regret was that we weren’t able to savour these on the hottest damned day of the year!
Doesn’t stop there though. The Manager’s Mojito Special was just as impactful with a delightfully unique mixture of a very minty base complimented by an almost bubblegum sweetness – tart, yet utterly to die for!
The Salsa was simple and fresh with a salty-lemon dressing, and Tortilla crisps that were what they were.
The Garlic Pitta was freshly baked and tasty, the Homous smooth as it ought to be, and the olives based in garlic.
Lovely combo of the sweet and sour with this so-called ‘superfood’.
Crunchy leaves and fresh tomatos; just don’t forget to give this a quick toss before tucking in.
Again large, crunchy leaves with a good amount of cheese and crunchy little croutons. Can’t go wrong really.
In all, however, these salads could do with some innovation. Perhaps a better selection of leaves might make these appear a more attractive menu choice.
Were these double-fried or something?
Beautifully made, non-greasy fries – very crunchy on the outside, and soft on the in. The fire fries were especially addictive.
We felt the cabbage pieces were overly large in this slaw.
Tastewise, however, this was decent.
Our only complaint with these sides would be with the seemingly arbitrary standardised price.
£2.50 for two half pieces of corn on the cob! Really?!
Now, we were told that Chiquen’s chefs have apparently travelled the world to source and present these unique sauces as authetically as possible. According to their website, these sauces are made without any artificial ingredients and “in small batches … to ensure freshness”.
Truth be told, they’ve certainly done their homework. In our view, these trump what Nando’s has to offer (or may be we’ve become somewhat bored of ’em).
The Sicilian Mild Sauce has a mild lemony taste to it and was considered the best by one Lion. The Old Delhi Spicy Sauce had a delicate fruity taste. The least watery of the quartet, the Mozambique Fiery Sauce, was also fruity, but delivering far more heat (considered the best by another Lion). The Malaccan Volcanic Sauce had a lovely earthiness to it, and would have been extremely hot except that by that stage our tastebuds no longer functioned.
Both the strips and the wings were very well cooked with the respective marinades not only imparting their respective flavours to each, but also ensuring different textures too. The marinades themselves were distinct; the entire tasting experience quite enjoyable. It’s obvious that a lot of hardwork has gone into perfecting said flavours.
Hence, while the Mild marinade gave a light lemony flavour, the Spicy wasn’t that spicy, the Fiery turned up the heat some, and the volcanic, with its earthy aftertaste, slowly devoured everything in its path. The odd-ball BBQ was, on the other hand, nice and sticky, and a good contrast to all that heat.
The chicken was really well cooked with a crispy, charred-grilled skin and a succulent interior.
The squeeze of lime was necessary to temper that chilli marination.
Not the best chicken burger we’ve ever had, but it held our attention somewhat.
The breast was chunky, well cooked and, thus, moist.
It delivered good flavour too despite the lack of a good sauce, and had a soft flavoursome bun.
The cheese, however, was not properly cooked.
This Veggie Paneer Wrap had a lot going well for it.
A cacophony of flavours is what underpines this wrap: the hardboiled egg nestled beside the soft and spicy paneer, crunchy red peppers and onions, and a good hot sauce. There’s enough going on here to make this a solid alternative to chicken. Good portion too!
Churros with Dulce De Leche was the best of these trio of desserts. The Churros were nice’n’crunchy on the outside and beautifully soft therein. Often you get Churros almost competing with the choc sauce for sweetness. Here, the balance was about right.
The Caramel Ice Cream looked the part, but could have been better had the popcorn been crispier. The salted caramel was well balanced. Nothing to rave about though.
As for the Baked Chocolate Fudge Cake then, sadly, it was average at best. Texturally it was grainy and slightly on the stodgy side. Needed to be far more delicate. The chocolate ice cream was good though.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- FREE WIFI
- UBER EATS
Having opened in August of last year, this large restaurant has a seating capacity of 100 and is situated on the first floor of The Mall next to Cineworld. Our advice: skip the overpriced cinema grub for the experience of their four delicious sauces!
We'd recommend as a menu set: Guava Slushie, or the Manager's Mojito Special, Superfood Quinoa Salad, chicken (of course) with all four sauces, and the Churros with Dulce De Leche to end your meal.
Chiquen offers the following Daily Specials:
- 3 chicken strips or 4 wings. Fries & limitless soft drink for £5.
- Quarter chicken, fries & limitless soft drink £7.
- Half chicken, fries & limitless soft drink £10.
And don't forget, Chiquen are up for nomination for the TIME OUT awards.
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