For this month’s MONCH, we channeled our inner Ivor Xian and went to Hot Bird so you don’t have to (but maybe you should?). Greeting us when we arrived was a presumably normal shoplot with a cute chicken logo on their signboard. Their interior was equally as cute, donning a red and white color scheme throughout their store, it gave a sort of American diner aesthetic. The murals on their walls continued with this color scheme, utilizing red ink and white backgrounds to depict their chicken mascot.
As we entered, the first thing we noticed was the smell of fried chicken and the red-white interior. Interestingly, the restaurant was rather cold despite them using a semi-open kitchen concept. Their seating arrangement is nothing unusual, it’s what you’d expect from a regular fast food restaurant, i.e., booth seats, etc. They do, however, have countertop seatings facing a window where you can have a main characterTM moment while you enjoy your fried chicken.
Alright, enough talking about their furniture. Let’s talk about what MONCH is about, the food. We were assisted by the owner, Kelvin when ordering. He was extremely helpful and recommended some items in addition to our initial order. To start our meal, we began with their sides. Firstly, we tried their Cajun Fries which came with the meal (RM10 for a’la carte). Hot Bird uses thicker cut fries compared to other fast food chains, which gives it a fuller feel. However, the star is not the cut of the fries but rather the Cajun seasoning which coats them. The seasoning was tasty, to say the least. We could really taste the spices in the seasoning blend. However, it was a bit too salty for us.
As for the curly fries (RM12), it was good, but nothing too special. It tasted pretty similar to other fast food chains’ curly fries. For its price, it was a bit underwhelming.
We continued our appetizer adventures with their Mac & Cheese (RM12.90). It was… not the best, to say the least. Their cheese sauce tasted a bit watered down and we couldn’t really taste the cheese. For its price, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The next dish we got from the sides section was the coleslaw (RM6), a classic complement to fried chicken. We were all pleasantly surprised by its taste. Hot Bird managed to balance the fine line between creamy and freshness for its coleslaw. The slightly tangy aftertaste helped cut through the greasy and heavy aftertastes of the fries and Mac & Cheese. Combined with the chicken, it was really delicious. Highly recommend getting this. For RM6, it is a nice bang for your (six) buck.
The final side we got was the Buffalo Wings (RM19.90). Simply put, they were the best buffalo wings we’ve had in a while. They were really generous with their buffalo sauce, up to the point where there was a small puddle of buffalo sauce on the serving tray. Not that we’re complaining, of course. The spiciness of the sauce and the tenderness of the wings hit just right. Coupled with its tangy aftertaste, it enticed our appetites to take another bite. The only thing that could possibly make it better is some blue cheese crumbled on top of the wings. Other than that, it’s the perfect start to our fried chicken journey. For RM19.90, it is a really good deal compared to other places that serve buffalo wings. Highly recommended.
Before proceeding to the main event, shall we get saucy? Hot Bird offers a myriad of sauces to accompany their greasy grub. At RM3 per container of sauce (RM4.50 for the Tangy Buffalo), they provide endless possibilities of enjoying their food. Here’s a rundown on this saucy review:
Comeback – Hot Bird’s signature sauce. A mayo-based sauce coupled with spices. Provides a creamy aftertaste to your palate. A well-rounded sauce that goes well with everything. This is what I’d personally consider a “safe option” for the sauces. You can’t really go wrong with this.
Garlic Mayo – Another mayo-based sauce, if you can’t tell. The garlic provides another dimension of flavors to the classic mayonnaise. A good complement to Hot Bird’s chicken but an even better complement to the fries. This sauce solved the “too salty” issue we experienced with the Cajun Fries. Its garlicky taste paired well with the salty and flavourful fries.
Smokey BBQ – Barbeque sauce.
Cool Ranch – The cool counterpart to Hot Bird’s hot chicken, this creamy sauce provides a cooling finish to your palate. The sauce soothes your tongue the same way an ice pack would soothe a burn. However, it may be an acquired taste as the herbs in the ranch taste quite strong and it may be off-putting to some people. Recommended to pair it with the Buffalo Wings.
Tangy Buffalo – If “the right balance of spice and tang” were a sauce. Complements the non-spicy items really well. The spicy component cuts through the greasy feeling of the fried stuff while the tang stimulates your appetite, urging you to take bite after bite.
Ketchup and Chili Sauces – If you’re too Malaysian and can’t eat fried food without chili sauce, they offer it for free. Go wild.
Finally, we have arrived at the main attraction. The chicken. What sets Hot Bird apart from other fried chicken restaurants is that they are the first and one of the few restaurants that serve Nashville-style fried chicken in Malaysia. Nashville-style fried chicken refers to the way the chicken is prepared. After frying, the chicken is tossed around in a coating of oil and spices which gives it its red hue. Due to this, Hot Bird is able to offer a variety of spice levels for their chicken. From non-spicy to “I wish I wasn’t picked for this month’s MONCH” levels of spicy. These spice levels are offered to every chicken item on their menu. We first tried their fried chicken (RM10 for a’la carte). The first thing we noticed about it was the size. They were quite big and certainly worth the money, unlike a certain Colonel’s fried chicken. After trying their fried chicken, we tried their Jumbo Tenders (RM7 a’la carte). They were not kidding when they said jumbo. The chicken tenders were quite big compared to what we are used to. Despite their size, they are actually really tender and juicy. Each serving of chicken comes with a slice of white bread, similar to how it’s served in Nashville.
As the difference in taste lies in the spice levels, here is the rundown on the levels offered:
No Heat – As the name suggests, this is the non-spicy level offered. Despite this, this level is still packed with flavor. We could really taste the marinade of the chicken. This is a really solid choice for those who really can’t handle spicy food.
Mild – The slightly spicier level. We can actually taste the heat in this one, to be honest. It’s really good. There’s a nice balance of heat and flavor. Perfect for those who enjoy a slight heat.
Hot – This level is the signature level recommended by Hot Bird. To be honest, there is not much difference between Mild and Hot. It’s only slightly spicier than Mild but it is still noticeable. I’d recommend this for people with good spice tolerance.
Super Hot – Again, there’s not much difference from the previous level. It’s only slightly spicier. Good flavor.
Burn Baby Burn – Big difference from the previous level. The thing about its spice is that it doesn’t instantly take effect. Give it 15 seconds and you’ll feel its full effects as we did. There is still some flavor behind the spice. Perfect for masochists.
Reaper – The reason they call this level the reaper is because once you eat it, you can get a glimpse of the Grim Reaper. Kidding. The name comes from them using the Carolina Reaper pepper in their coating. We honestly did not enjoy this much. There isn’t much flavor except for spice. It feels like the purpose of this dish is just to be ridiculously spicy. I would still recommend trying this just for the experience, though.
The final thing we tried were the milkshakes (RM15). Coming in various flavors like Creamy Strawberry, Peanut Butter, and Double Chocolate, we had the opportunity to try them all. Overall, they were quite good. They had the right amount of sweetness and were a delicious addition to combat the spiciness of the chicken. However, for RM15, the portion is a bit disappointing as it is a bit small. In addition, the whipped cream was a bit too much for our liking, it would be preferable if it was reduced or even omitted completely from the drink. I’d recommend getting it alongside a meal as you’d only have to pay RM8 instead of the full RM15.
Overall, Hot Bird offers a unique experience with its Nashville-style fried chicken. I’d argue that there’s no close substitution to it. However, its pricing is not the most wallet-friendly, especially for students. Expect to spend RM30++ if you decide to try this place out. As for whether you should, I’d say if you have the extra money, go for it! Personally, I would recommend getting the Mild chicken tenders, coupled with their Comeback sauce.
It is notable to mention that Hot Bird tends to be quite packed, especially during peak mealtimes. We went there at around 1pm and it was packed. Luckily, our lovely directors put in a word and managed to book a table for us (thank you directors ♥️). So should you decide to pay this hot place a visit, they are open from 12.00 to 9.30 pm, 7 days a week. For more information from Hot Bird, they are on Instagram (@hot_bird_malaysia).
With that, this month’s MONCH comes to an end. Hot Bird’s fried chicken has left a big impression on me and has set a new standard on how fried chicken should taste.
Here’s a TL;DR for those who’re too lazy to read through the entire review:
- Atmosphere/Vibes: 9/10 (the murals are really cute)
- Service: 9/10 (the workers are really helpful and friendly)
- Food: 8/10
- Price: 5/10
Written by Amir; Photos by Tarek