Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Fried Food

Chicken Charlie, Southern California's deep-fry king

Chicken Charlie (a.k.a. Charles Boghosian) holds deep-fried frog legs. He sells about 2,000 legs during a typical, three-week county fair. Inspired by the Armenian dishes his mother cooked, Charlie Boghosian, better known to fairgoers as Chicken Charlie, decided to put his culinary talents to use. Instead of stuffing vegetables with ground beef, rice and pine nuts, Boghosian hollowed out a zucchini, stuffed it with a turkey frank, battered and deep-fried it.

Voila! The Zucchini Weenie was born.

Introduced at this year's Orange Count Fair and soon to be on sale at the L.A. County Fair (Saturday to Oct. 4), it’s only the latest concoction from a man who has single-mindedly devoted himself to the dark art of the deep fryer.

Over the last decade, Southern California's deep fry king has battered and deep-fried pickles, olives, s'mores, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Twinkies, cheesecake, cupcakes, frog legs, White Castle cheeseburgers, Oreos, avocados and more.

How did an immigrant with dreams of going into law enforcement take a detour and end up as Southern California's deep-fry king? Click here to find out. (And click here for our photo essay on the fried fare at last year's fair.)

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Chicken Charlie (a.k.a. Charlie Boghosian) with deep-fried frog legs. He sells about 2,000 legs during a typical three-week county fair. Credit: Ken Hively  / Los Angeles. Times

Bellying up to Kentucky Fried Chicken's double down

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We were dubious when we first read that Kentucky Fried Chicken was coming out with a new sandwich that does away with the bread in favor of two fried fillets. And that the "sandwich" part of the sandwich involved was made of cheese, something called Colonel's sauce .. and bacon?

Could that possibly be true?

After all, this was the fast-food chain that seemed to be going all healthy on us, setting off stampedes for its new grilled chicken offerings.

We lobbed a call to a media representative. And the rest is a good news-bad news story. First, the good news. The sandwich does indeed exist, and it is called the double down. It is made of two Original Recipe fillets, bacon, Swiss and pepper jack cheese and something called the Colonel's sauce.

The bad news? The sandwich is only being tested in Providence, R.I., and Omaha, Neb. But if it does well  -- and really, why wouldn't this sandwich do well? -- it could head out West. 

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Kentucky Fried Chicken

New food trucks: Dosa, Lomo Arigato, Frysmith

A dosa served with spiced potatoes. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.The gourmet food trucks of Los Angeles just keep rolling ... and rolling ... and rolling ... and rolling. We've added three new ones to our ever-expanding list of L.A.'s Nouveau Food Trucks, which now includes 21 meals-on-wheels.

  • Frysmith: Gourmet French fry truck with vegan chili fries, kimchi fries (Kurobuta pork belly, onions, cheddar cheese and kimchi); chicken sweet potato fries and more. Coming in mid- to late August.
  • Dosa Truck: Newly launched this month, this truck specializes in a South Indian treat: dosas (crisp savory crepes made from lentil and rice flour) along with artisanal chutneys.
  • Lomo Arigato: Japanese-style Peruvian food such as  saltados, pasta saltados and fried rice with beef, chicken or tofu and, of course, insanely spicy green sauce.

-- Elina Shatkin


Photo: A dosa served with spiced potatoes. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Sampler Platter: Fried chicken, type-A sandwiches and summer salads

Fried chicken wings with cabbage salad and pickled radish from BonChon Chicken. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times. Thank goodness it's Friday's food news roundup...

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Fried chicken wings with cabbage salad and pickled radish. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Food Truck Alert: Frysmith gourmet fry truck

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Are you one of those people who suddenly bolts out of bed at 3 a.m., hops in the car and heads for Tommy burger because you just can't shake your craving for chili-cheese fries? Then you'll be excited to hear that come mid- to late August a French fry truck called Frysmith will join the caravan of gourmet food trucks that have been rolling and Twittering around town in previously unimagined numbers.

Its owners, Brook Howell and Erik Cho, who are married and both 29 years old, have been quietly working on the idea since March. Both graduates of UC Berkeley, Howell and Cho have long been interested in food. Cho is Korean and grew up in Baldwin Park. His mother ran a couple of burger restaurants and he spent time in those kitchens as a youth. The experience fostered his current love of fast food and L.A.'s thriving burger culture. Howell majored in literature but secretly wanted to be a baker. Her first food-truck love was New York's Dessert Truck.

The couple, who live in Burbank, pursued careers within their chosen fields (Howell worked for a magazine and Cho in the film industry) before deciding to focus on a food truck.

"I'd been following the food truck thing for a while. New York has a really vibrant food truck culture," says Howell. "Kogi kind of showed us that this is something viable that L.A. would be into." Once they settled on the medium,they had to choose a food to sell. Cho wanted to do something with fast food but didn't want to do burgers. Then he had lunch with a friend who had never had chili-cheese fries and it hit him that he could build a meal on top of fries using all of his favorite flavors and ingredients.

Here's what's on the Frysmith menu so far:

Continue reading »

Chocolate-covered bacon, Zucchini Weenies and more join the fried fare at the O.C. Fair

Left: Zucchini Weenies. Right: Chocolate-covered bacon. Both will be sold at the 2009 O.C. Fair.

The O.C. "Super" Fair kicks off tomorrow. For some, that means Ferris wheels, pig races and chart-topping 1980s bands exploiting the power of nostalgia. For others -- you know who you are, fellow gluttons -- it's an annual pilgrimage to the mecca of deep-fried food.

Last year, I hardened my arteries by sampling nearly every fried food item at the O.C. Fair. (Make a beeline for deep-fried zucchini, apple sticks and Reese's Whips. Avoid deep-fried White Castle burgers, frog legs and Tootsie Rolls.)

This year, you can expect some brand new fried fare at the fair:

  • Zucchini Weenie: a hot dog inside a hollowed-out zucchini that's battered and deep-fried. ($5.75)
  • Pizza Bites: battered and deep-fried mini-pizza bagels. ($5.75)
  • Smores: graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate that's sandwiched together, battered and deep-fried. ($5.75)
  • Zucchini Nachos: battered and deep-fried zucchini curls that are covered in cheese, bacon and jalapenos. ($8.75)
  • Jumbo Mexican Funnel Cake: made with churro batter, this massive, ridged and coiled funnel cake is topped with whipped cream and strawberries. If you eat it by yourself in 20 minutes, you get it for free. ($9)
  • Chocolate-Covered Bacon: bacon is coated in semi-sweet chocolate, frozen, sliced into small strips and served in a Chinese food container. ($4.50)

The O.C. Fair runs July 10 through Aug. 9.

--Elina Shatkin

Photo credit: Orange County Fair

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.