The very name Ultimate Chicken Bistro is a lot to live up to. After all, chicken plays a prominent role in nearly every cuisine you can think of and is a favored ingredient of many chefs and most home cooks. That means there are many, many chicken dishes, ranging from superb to barely edible, to choose from.
Despite its name, Ultimate Chicken Bistro has taken a middle road, making no attempt to be comprehensive, which is sensible given the potential scope of chicken dishes, but offering well-known examples of chicken dishes from several different cuisines.
The star attraction, though, is Korean fried chicken and that makes sense because the owner is Korean and owns another restaurant, Cheogajip in nearby Annandale, which specializes in Korean fried chicken, and his family reportedly runs Korea’s largest chicken processing plant.
It also suggests that Korean fried chicken is a good place to start with this menu, and you have several choices. One is the popcorn chicken sampler, addictive bite-size pieces of deep-fried thigh meat topped with either a soy-garlic sauce or a spicy but not too hot almost-sweet-and-sour sauce. Both are good, and it is interesting to compare tastes as you alternate between the two.
Another appetizer choice is firecracker chicken, six sticks of satay-style white chicken meat with a spicy red pepper sauce. The chicken has a slightly crunchy finish and you can avoid the sauce if you don’t want that much heat.
Japanese fried chicken, which is marinated then coated with potato starch, not flour, before frying, comes several other ways, either plain or with sauces. A whole chicken has 16 pieces, cut up Asian style. Some pieces are all meat and little bone, while others have more bone and less meat. Half a chicken is eight pieces.
Several chicken dishes from other countries are on the menu. From Japan there is teriyaki chicken and from China, chicken and broccoli and Hunan chicken.
Western cuisines are represented by chicken fajitas, chicken cordon bleu, chicken parmesan, and chicken piccata.
It is, however, entirely possible to have a meal at Ultimate Chicken Bistro without ordering or eating chicken. Several versions of the Japanese bento box feature Korean dishes like bulgogi, and galbi, along with California roll, fried dumplings and a crisp salad. Japanese and Korean style grilled dishes also include non chicken options such as tofu and vegetables and New York strip steak.
The short dessert list also is multi-cuisine: an excellent Crème Brule, banana flambé, New York cheese cake, and yuza, a Japanese dessert of citron jelly and soft chocolate squares with berries which, unfortunately, was not available.
All dishes are cooked to order, which means not exactly fast food. And you can watch the line of chefs at work in the open kitchen. The restaurant is simple, modern, functional and clean. The service is quick and efficient, the staff knowledgeable and welcoming.
Ultimate Chicken Bistro is tailor-made for those who appreciate the flavor and versatility of chicken. And while it may be true, as some on-line customer reviews claim, that you can find better versions of individual dishes elsewhere, you won’t find an equal variety of cooked-to-order chicken dishes anywhere else nearby.