If it weren’t for the ingenuity of KFC managers in Vietnam I would have felt something approaching pity for the nine branches of KFC in Vietnam earlier this year. Anyone selling poultry, eggs, ducks, pigeons, turkeys, ostriches or archaeopteryx saw their stock in trade slaughtered with the onset of the Asian bird flu crisis. However, Vietnam’s KFC management hatched a rescue plan – ditch the ‘KFC’ moniker, overhaul the menu and launch ‘KFF’ or Kentucky Fried Fish. It worked, kind of. Bird flu might still be kicking around – just last week nearly 5,000 chickens pecked the dust – but Chicken phobia among the proles clucked its last sometime ago and this branch of KFC, on the corner of Hai Ba Trung Street and Cao Ba Quat Street was packed today.
I’m probably in the minority of western carnivores in that I have only recently sampled Colonel Sander’s plastic poultry, special sauces, secret recipe, french fries et al. I’ve never had KFC anywhere else but in Saigon. Some protest at the spread of joints like KFC for multifarious reasons and I’ll admit, as a supposed foodie, and as a subscriber to the squeaky clean Ecologist Magazine, I shouldn’t really be seen in restaurants of ill repute like this. But, what the hell, this is a blog and it has, does and will cover the good the bad and bollocks of Saigon if it’s edible or comes in liquid form. I ordered a ‘Phili bogo’ with cheese, fries and a Pepsi set for 32,000VD. The burger innards were mayo-heavy, the chicken was slightly dry, the fries were fresh, the whole experience was dangerously enjoyable if immediately forgettable. It filled a hole, but afterwards I stepped outside and stumbled straight into a Banh My stall. Should I have saved myself 27,000VD and gone there instead???… Nahhh. Sometimes junk calls and only junk will do. Back on the Vitenamese street treats tomorrow.