Hey, Charmander here debuting with my first official food review!
While there are debatable qualities about me (re: if I am a whippersnapper to be feared, or better off being a leaf instead of a human), there is no denying that I like writing, puns, food, and zero attention. So, here I am, expressing my foodie experiences on a low-key blog, chumming alongside my fellow rumbling tummies in this Machiabellian regime of hunger that we are working to dismantle, bite by bite.
Now, let’s get to the meat of it.
COC (Coq-o-Coq) and I – we have history. I will never forget that evening a few years ago when we locked eyes. The skies were darkening, the air was sultry with summer heat, and while the excited chatter of students and locals lent themselves to the carefree noises of summer, I was in no shape to indulge along with them. A restless appetite ravaged me, roiling and toiling in my belly, as I wandered those streets that evening, alone, looking for sustenance to subsist on this wretched earth. But where to go? I had tired of my regular haunts, the same old restaurants with their foods that failed to offer satisfaction even in one’s most urgent pangs of insatiable hunger.
But then, a neon red flash caught my eye, a beacon in the darkness. I turned my head, weakly, praying for salvation. And there it was. What a sight it was to behold. The redness that tugged my eyes to it so I may meet its gaze, upon full view, stopped me in my tracks. HALAL, it read. HALAL, it cried out to me, with open arms. I took in its poster-sized menu items of chicken items, burgers, sandwiches, and ignored its garish green and orange décor to walk inside, a bell chiming to announce my presence as I pushed my way into a new world of redemption.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Although my love and ardour for COC has diminished since that first food fling, with every passing meal, I’ve come to realize that it could certainly use lots of improvement.
Ponyta and I had decided to return to COC for dinner one evening while we caught up with each other, took a pause from our busy lives, and played Pokemon Go.
I had ordered the Duo Tender Burger Trio Combo for $8.99 + tax, an offer which consisted of two small-sized burgers, a helping of fries, and a large (re-fillable) fountain drink of your choice. I asked for no (shitty processed sliced) cheese in the burgers, and instead asked for them to top off the burgers with their hot southwestern sauce, and fill one burger with coleslaw, and received it, for no additional charge. Below is a picture of the meal before I dug in.
The burgers could each fit comfortably on the palm of my hands (it is important to note that I have small hands akin to the size of a ten year old kid’s) and were a comfortable size to hold, but not a comfortable size to eat because it wasn’t filling. The chicken tenders they used inside the burger were extremely crispy and not evenly sized, which is a problem because it didn’t promise an even meat-to-bread ratio for every mouthful as, say, a cutlet would provide. It also felt to me that they added more crunch/hella breadcrumb coatings to make up for the actual lack of the chicken beneath the layers of said crunch. This is a cheapass fucking move and a grave transgression, in my books. The shredded lettuce and tomato were nice and fresh. The buns were soft and warm, but not toasted enough as I like them. The southwest sauce (which was a mild peppery, smoky, sour yet sweet condiment) wasn’t evenly spread over the chicken, which was a shame, because the sections of chicken that were sauce-free were unforgivingly bland (it is important to note that I am of South-Asian descent and have tastebuds that take delight in spices and compelling aromatic flavours). The coleslaw spread (which consisted of shredded bits of carrots and cabbage drenched in a liquidized mayonnaise) was very minimal and barely added a new or gripping taste to the burger; it just tasted more mildly sweet and watered down the southwestern sauce. The fries were excellent; golden and crispy on the outside, perfectly cooked through to the inside. However, the portion was very disappointingly small, and had shrunk noticeably since my last visit months ago.
Mind you, I’ve been at COC plenty of times over the course of a few years to notice changes that they’ve implemented, including increasing prices, decreasing portion sizes, adding to the menu, etc. The changes they’ve put in are not favourable to the consumer – where they have to pay more for less, and the menu is not that diversified to begin with. This Burger Tender Trio Combo definitely got hit with this aforementioned cheapass fuckery.
Still, there are not many Halal (fried, tender, etc) fast-food chicken places that I know of, so despite their small portions and higher prices, I will return to COC to quell the occasional cravings for crusty chicken until I find a better alternative.
TL;DR – here are some short summary notes about the experience:
|High ($11.50 tax included), considering other fast-food joints offer two burgers + fries + drink for far cheaper|
|I am not a fucking toddler, give me more, give me the bang for my buck, make me have to roll out of your restaurant because I have been able to eat to my gluttonous fill|
|Very polite, very quick, very accommodating…though the quality of said accommodation needs work (aka, use a butter knife like the rest of us to evenly spread out sauces; one teaspoon of coleslaw ain’t shit)|
|Can’t beat downtown, 2 minutes away from the metro and main bus lines, smack in the middle of a university campus make it a popular stop with students|
|Growing menu, but very repetitive and boring combinations, and burger toppings need work|
|Put more love in the chicken and sauces – think about people who actually value the meaning of salt and spice – strive to find the balance between teeth-grinding crust and the inner tender chicken and make it your life’s purpose, oh COC cooks, to find something that is palatable in texture and flavour for your journey of higher ascension in the kitchen|
|Other||Halal – a big convenience for Muslims, Jewish, and other people who prefer to eat meat prepared in a more sanitary and humane way compared to most alternatives|
Overall: 3.33/5 stars