Believe it or not, the concept of Crazy Wings didn't appeal to me until I had actually dined there. Char-grilled skewers of chicken wings, offal cuts and other meats and vegetables, mostly dusted with chilli and cumin... It wasn't really the type of thing I'd previously ever craved.
But strangely enough, Crazy Wings ended up being a case of don't knock it 'til you've tried it!
Crazy Wings is a franchise with over 300 restaurants in China and Korea, and three in Australia (there are two in Sydney and one in Melbourne). By now I've been to both restaurants in Chinatown and Chatswood, more than just a couple of times! It's a unique style of comfort food that I now lust after.
The decor and experience of the Chatswood branch is slightly more modern than the Chinatown one. The bowls and plates are fancier and the decor is more elegant. I love how they've blended the old Beijing hutong look with modern day comfort.
The drinks menu includes Chinese herbal teas, plum juice and various frappes. This lychee blended ice ($4.80) is a lusciously sweet treat.
We start with the bamboo veggie salad ($5.80), a mountain of carrot, celery and bamboo shoots flavoured with a tangy and tongue numbing dressing. It is crisp and fresh and we welcome the subtle spices in the dressing.
The chicken wings ($2.50 per skewer) are an obvious choice. Flavours include original, honey soy, Asian curry, fresh garlic, chilli pepper and black pepper.
The wings are juicy and perfectly charred. I love the punchiness of the chilli pepper flavour but the original is also well liked by Zen, who has a lower tolerance for spicy foods.
Looking around the room, every table seems to have collected enormous cups full of used skewers. I'm gobsmacked by how much everybody eats but then I realise it's because each serving of wings is pierced with two skewers, and some dishes, even more.
We also try the BBQ haricot beans (four skewers for $4). Each skewer only holds five cuts of beans so these disappear in an instant. They're perfectly blistered and absolutely addictive. The enokii mushrooms (three skewers for $4) offer even better value.
The crazy scallops ($3.90 each) are topped with too much garlic and ginger for my liking - perhaps if they were more finely chopped, I would've enjoyed it.
It's the ox tongue (three skewers for $6), chicken giblets (three skewers for $6), garlic pork belly skewers (three skewers for $6) and marinated beef rolls with enokii mushrooms (two skewers for $5.50) that really seal the deal. They're all heavily spiced and tongue numbingly good.
For safe measure, we finish with the char grilled whole quail ($7.50) and chicken fried rice ($11.80). The quail is on the over-grilled/dry end of the spectrum but the fried rice is scrumptiously smokey.
Although not pictured here, I'd also recommend the crazy tofu soup (serves two, $8) to balance the richness of the charcoal grilled dishes. It's a home-style pork broth with Chinese cabbage, cubes of silken tofu and pork meatballs.
Crazy Wings really hits the mark on the chilli heat scale and it's kinda indulgent that the char-grilling is done in the kitchen for you. Plus the style of food makes it a great spot for sharing dishes with a larger group.
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Shop 8, 1-5 Railway Street, Chatswood, NSW
Phone: (02) 9410 3978
There are other Crazy Wings branches at:
Shop 41,1 Dixon Street, Sydney, NSW
177 Russell Street, Melbourne, VIC
JENIUS and partner dined as guests of Wasamedia and Crazy Wings