Hot Star Large Fried Chicken - Sydney NSW
|The waiting and the anticipation at the Eastwood store of Hot Star.|
View it as an effective business model, or a yummy chicken recipe, and that is Hot Star. Already based in South-east Asia, it purports to have a Taiwanese crumbed recipe for mainly schnitzel-styled chicken on the go, although you can also order variations in snacks with curly fries, mushrooms and sweet potato. It has been operating in Australia for around a year. Its star performer on the menu literally is the rather chunky size of fried chicken slice, selling currently for AUD8.50 in the outlets in Brisbane Sunnybank, Adelaide Grote Street, Melbourne and Sydney areas. I have been curious about its sensational start for Aussie sites and also with mainly Asian background youth gathering around its Liverpool Street branch in downtown Sydney. I recently had an opportunity to try the chicken at its Eastwood store north-west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The menu is indeed limited - chicken bites or the large piece meal versions. That day I chose the large piece of chicken breast, available in original and crispy. The young chap then asked for my preference of spiciness, low, medium or high. Having done that, he gave me a new plastic bag like a ration handout and then we customers waited. At Eastwood that day, it could have been hilarious - both sides, staff and customers, were just looking at each other whilst some frying and cooking were done behind sight. I quickly reckoned the plastic bag was an ingenious idea - apart from being used to hold the hot stuff, people could discern between those persons who had already ordered and those who had not, still not making up their minds.
The menu was laid out simply and visually in front of the counter. The staff did not converse much but went about their tasks for most of the time. You collect when your number is called. The first thing I loved about the Hot Star chicken breast was its crumbed texture, yummy taste and flavourful chicken meat underneath. There was only bone at the end. There were no messy sauces, the product spoke for itself thus. It looks like a dream snack for international students and tourists on the go. I may have missed something - did they sell drinks?
Eastwood I understand was the only latest outlet in the greater Sydney region to join fellow branches in Cabramatta, Hurstville, Burwood and Liverpool Street Sydney CBD. Swanson and Elizabeth Streets in Melbourne CBD already have their own Hot Star stores. The model can be temptingly effective - sell only a few key items, all using mostly the same crumbed ingredients, with a cooking method that can be learnt up fast by employees and site the sales outlets in busy thoroughfare streets, especially those that are still lively at night. Hot Star has cleverly identified their key market and zoom down to them. Hot Star is sparing on spending too much on retail space.
The magic lies in its rather special seasoning for the crumbed stuff - salty, spicy and a bit sweet all at the same time. This who have visited the Shi Lin markets on Taipei evenings may recognise the Hot Star formula. The chicken pieces are marinated in a mix of caster sugar, five spice powder, soy sauce, chili powder, pepper and rice vinegar. The delightful pieces must then be coated with another mixture containing lightly beaten eggs, normal flour and sweet potato flour. One limitation of Hot Star chicken creations is like for any fast or street food - it must be consumed hot and fresh from the deep fryer.
So where will Hot Star expand next in its range of products? Most probably not any more, it has enjoyed the benefits of this minimalist menu, consistency in taste amongst its various outlets and an effective pay and collect arrangement.