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Chicken Express adjoins Fana’s Cuisine, the other half of the family enterprise, now about five years old. Fana’s is a small grocery and deli that stocks Ethiopian pantry staples, and frozen prepared foods, all typical Eritrean dishes like split yellow peas, red beans, stewed okra, cracked wheat cooked with clarified butter, and doro wat (a chicken stew seasoned with berbere a sort of African chili powder), and marinara sauce – part of the legacy of Italy’s colonization of the region. Fana’s lasagna will soon be added to the freezer case.
The frozen food is sold by the pint for $5 and makes great side dishes for the chicken.
Chicken Express serves white-meat strips and large wings, minimally battered and generously seasoned with spices Fana does not reveal. There is no breading to cover up the crispy skin. Vahid said Chicken Express will soon start serving the other parts of the chicken, the legs, thighs, breasts.
For now, the wings alone are worth the trip. Fana’s fried chicken is mostly undiscovered, hidden away in this relative restaurant desert, a different world from Columbia City, less than one mile to the south. The business makes most of its money by catering parties.
“It’s tough,” said Vahid. “We’re not in a great neighborhood for foot traffic. It’s mostly neighbors, folks in the apartment, people who know us through our catering business.”
The thing about fried chicken is that everyone eats it. Even when it’s different, it’s the same, whether made by Koreans, Chinese, Texans, Filipinos, or Eritreans.
Eritrean Fried Chicken. EFC. It has a ring to it.
If you go: Chicken Express and Fana’s Cuisine, 3621 33rd Ave. Avenue South, 206-708-7417 Open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fana charges about $1 per "jumbo" wing ($6.50 for 7 pieces), and their wings are indeed jumbo sized.
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