Fried chicken options flooding San Diego restaurants this spring

Junya Watanabe with his karaage chicken at  RakiRaki Ramen on Convoy Street in San Diego.
Junya Watanabe shows off his latest culinary creation, Junya’s Crispy Karaage at his RakiRaki Ramen location on Convoy Street in San Diego.
(Courtesy photo)

Fried chicken, the meal of choice for spring picnics, is popping up on multiple San Diego restaurant menus this month in sandwiches and other variations. Here’s the latest:

Junya’s Crispy Karaage: The latest culinary creation from RakiRaki Ramen owner/chef Junya Watanabe is his twist on the Japanese style of fried chicken known as karaage. Antibiotic-free chicken is marinated for 48 hours in fermented soy sauce and 12 spices, garlic and ginger, then coated with 22 spices, double-fried and served with house Japanese (kewpie) mayonnaise. The karaage is available in regular and spicy varieties in jumbo boxes, in sliders, with fries, in ramen or curry and in a bento box, priced from $11.40 to $25. The new JCK menu, introduced last week, is available at the RakiRaki location at 4646 Convoy St., Suite 102-A in Kearny Mesa. It’s also available for takeout. Visit

Junya's Crispy Karaage with curry and rice at RakiRaki Ramen in Kearny Mesa.
(Courtesy photo)

Farmer Boys: This fast-casual cooked-to-order burgers chain permanently added a chicken sandwich to its menu on March 30. Made with all-natural chicken, the sandwiches are double-dipped in batter and come in classic and fiery varieties. Riverside-based Farmer Boys has two locations in Escondido: 1333 E. Valley Parkway and 925 W. Mission Ave. Visit

Baba’s Hot Chicken: Also born in Riverside, Baba’s specializes in Nashville-style hot chicken with four different spice levels. Its chicken is available in sandwiches, tenders and loaded fries plates. Baba’s opened its first San Diego County location March 18 at 406 University Ave. in Hillcrest. Visit

A hot chicken sandwich at newly opened Baba's Hot Chicken in Hillcrest.
(Courtesy photo)

Scuderie Italia: Open since September in Pacific Beach, this Neapolitan-style pizzeria and restaurant added a fried chicken sandwich to its lunch menu on March 25. The sandwich is made with buttermilk-marinated chicken thigh meat and topped with Calabrian chili mayo. It’s at 1525 Garnet Ave., San Diego. Visit

International Smoke Del Mar: Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry’s 2-year-old global barbecue restaurant introduced a new happy hour menu in March with Tokyo-style fried chicken bites and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. These items are only available on the patio from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays at its restaurant at One Paseo, 3387 Del Mar Heights Road, Building 1, San Diego. visit

Shake Shack: In January, Shake Shack debuted two Korean-inspired fried chicken items to its burger-centric menu: The Korean-style Fried Chick’n sandwich is served with kimchi slaw on a toasted sesame seed bun. The Korean Gochujang Chick’n bites and fries includes fried chicken tenders served with spicy-sweet gochujang mayo sauce. Visit

McDonald’s: America’s biggest burger chain entered the chicken sandwich wars in February with its new crispy chicken sandwiches, available in regular, deluxe and spicy varieties. The battered and fried white-meat patties are served with crinkle-cut pickles on a buttered potato roll. Visit

Naegi Izakaya: Chef William Eick’s Japanese-inspired Matsu restaurant, slated to open soon at 626 Tremont St. in Oceanside, will share kitchen space with Eick’s new karaage chicken and egg salad sandwich takeout concept, Naegi. The karaage sandwiches will be served on Eick’s house-baked Japanese milk bread buns. For opening updates, visit

Kragen writes about restaurants for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at