Welcome Chicken + Donuts

Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
Bax
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In a lovely bit of serendipity, there's a vehicle emissions check station is just down the road from the new Welcome Chicken + Donuts. So I had a "two birds with one stone" trip to south Phoenix today. Although you can get your chicken "naked," Welcome specializes in Asian-style fried chicken. You get your choice of one of 3 sauces -- Korean chili, Vietnamese with fresh herbs or Japanese BBQ. I went with the Vietnamese, plus Thai slaw. Also got a cake doughnut with chipotle/lime sugar and an apple fritter.

First impression of the chicken was that it was too salty...but it balanced out more as I ate. Salt, a little tang, a little sweet, and a little fish-saucy funk. It was pretty addictive; I'm now wishing I'd gotten more than one piece. The chicken itself was really good too -- they use "pasture raised," hormone-free, antibiotic-free, etc. chicken and it was plump, juicy and good. And it stayed super crispy despite the trip home in a to-go box! The Thai slaw was really good too -- delightfully crunchy with fresh Thai flavors; lots of shredded carrots along with the cabbage. They also offer a ginger cucumber salad or a miso butter corn stir-fry as sides; will have to try those in the future (though the slaw will be hard to resist).

I'd asked for the cajeta and sea salt fritter but he misheard and gave me the regular one. Oh well. Not mind-blowing but I'd put it in the "very good" class -- not overly sweet (too many fritters are), a fairly good dough-to-apple ratio. Probably better when first made; at this point it's leaving a slight greasy film inside my mouth but only slight. Also it's HUGE. Have only had a nibble of the doughnut so far but YUM. The doughnut itself isn't too heavy nor too sweet (usually doughnuts are too sweet for me), and the chipotle/lime sugar has a little citrus tang, a little smoky depth and a little chili kick. It's weird/good! (actually, file that one under "addictive" too -- even though I am full I keep going back for bites...it's going to be gone soon)

The building is really cute too -- looks like it may have been a KFC at some point, and judging from the artwork still on the doors its previous incarnation was a bbq place. It's currently bright and funky and they've put a big covered patio area outside which will be great during these nice months. It's probably a good thing this place isn't closer to home/work because if it was I'd probably eat there far too often. But it's not all that inconvenient either -- a quick trip down the freeway and a few minutes on surface streets and I'm there. So yeah, I def. plan on going back. Often. Count me as a fan!
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Lunchbox
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Welcome Chicken + Donuts
1535 E Buckeye Road
Phoenix, AZ 85034
(602) 258-1655
Mon - Sat: 7:00 am - 3:00 pm
https://www.facebook.com/welcomechickenanddonuts/
-- LBX

Instagram: @zachary.garcia

Twitter: @zach_garcia
Bax
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Ooops, ha, thanks!
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Lunchbox
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Bax wrote:Ooops, ha, thanks!
I was curious where it was so I figured since I was doing the legwork anyway... Good to know it's only a couple minutes from my office... Hopefully we'll check it out next week...
-- LBX

Instagram: @zachary.garcia

Twitter: @zach_garcia
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Skillet Doux
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Might want to get in here soon.

Prediction: Welcome Chicken + Donuts is going to be the sequel to Little Miss BBQ.

Maybe not that crazy... that's a high bar. But it's going to be a zoo, and it's going to have staying power, I think. I love this place, both for what they're doing, and also for what it might mean for the local food scene.

I should've gotten more photos of the place itself -- that'll have to be for a later pass. There are six tables inside, and two huge, long communal tables outside under shade. They can seat at least two dozen people outside, which is good, because they're going to need it.

There were probably fifteen different kinds of donuts in the case -- more than they need to do, really -- and I believe four of them were already sold out when I got there at 10:45. Chicken service starts at 10:30. Wings were sold out at 11:15. This is day five of operation.
Vietnamese + Thai Slaw
Vietnamese + Thai Slaw
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Oh, wow, did I ever love this. It's dressed with what's almost like a fish sauce syrup (though not at all too sweet), reduced down and super intense. This wasn't some meager splash of fish sauce. They're all-in. And the chicken is fabulous. Juicy and moist and fall-apart tender, and the batter is craggy and light and shatteringly crisp. There's at least some (and I suspect a lot of) rice flour in play. It has an almost tempura-like quality, but with a little more body and oomph.
Korean + Miso Corn
Korean + Miso Corn
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The Korean is doing its own thing. This isn't like the big Korean fried chicken chains. But there's gochujang, ginger, garlic, it's just a little sweet but only just a little -- again, really delicious. This was the second flavor I got to, and the coating was starting to lose its crisp. If you aren't going to eat it immediately, sauce on the side might be in order.
"Wisconsin" Apple Fritter, Blueberry + Cacao
"Wisconsin" Apple Fritter, Blueberry + Cacao
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Yes. Yes yes yes. On the right, a light as air donut, sweet glaze with a little berry tartness. On the left, an almost crunchy apple fritter with oven-dried cheddar cheese crisps on top.

So here's what I love. First of all, this is awesome, and it's going to be big, and these guys deserve it. So there's that. But bigger picture, when these guys are a mad success, people aren't going to be able to write off Little Miss BBQ as a fluke. Two places in wonky neighborhoods, minimal indoor seating, lots of outdoor seating, very limited menu done reallyreallyreally well... there is a successful model here, and one more entry will officially make it a trend. Do Less, Do It Better. They will come. Watch.
Dominic Armato
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GoBlue18
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Well I missed you guys there today since I had a later arrival due to meetings. But still glad I made the trip. Had the Korean chili 3-piece with the miso corn. And the plain cake donut I really enjoyed. Crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside without any dryness. It's definitely going to stay on my lunch rotation.
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M_L
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I was not a huge fan of the sauces but I wonder how much difference it would be when it is pre-sauced vs. on the side (as I had it). The sauces are super salty (Dapuma beware) and the chicken is not so salty (as voiced by HotDish). The batter is very light and has a great crispness and flavor.

The donuts were really enjoyable. I neglected to get one I wanted to try and went back and it was gone. So if the impulse hits I suggest going with it. As Dom said it is pretty great space with not terrible parking. Best/worst thing for me is that it is very close to my work.
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GoBlue18
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I was told today chicken + donuts is related to Welcome Diner....does anyone know or can confirm either way?
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Skillet Doux
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GoBlue18 wrote:I was told today chicken + donuts is related to Welcome Diner....does anyone know or can confirm either way?
Yup. Same pair. Jenn Robinson and Michael Babcock.
Dominic Armato
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GoBlue18
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Got it, thanks for confirming.
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azhotdish
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Man did I dig our lunch here the other day. What's not to like when the chicken is that good?

Only managed to grab a single picture of the donut case...
the donuts
the donuts
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Ordered the cajeta mesquite salt and the chocolate mole sugar - both were really delicious.

The chicken...perfect. Without the sauces it seems a bit under salted (we got all three sauces on the side), but the addition of them fixed that. I think my favorites were the Korean and the Japanese - perhaps a bit too concentrated fish sauce for me in the Vietnamese, but it was still pretty good, I just prefer the others.

I could eat that three-piece once a week and not tire of it, I think. Great joint.
---
Joel
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Skillet Doux
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I enjoyed the Korean a lot more on my second pass. But the Vietnamese is still my fave. It's true, you really need to have a strong relationship with fish sauce for that one. And I totally dug the Japanese, too. As Desert Gal pointed out, it's very similar to tonkatsu sauce.

Also, while I am loathe to perpetuate bacon overkill, I'm forced to admit that the maple bacon donut is really unusually good. Also, the chocolate frosting on the chocolate/rose/pistachio donut was really dark and intense -- almost like a ganache.

Seriously loving this place.
Dominic Armato
Bax
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I liked the Korean sauce fairly well but the chicken didn't stay crispy like it does with the Vietnamese. Vietnamese is still the winner for me; will have to try Japanese next I guess.

The sides were kinda disappointing this time around. I found the cucumber salad too salty, and the Thai slaw was limper and gloppier than the first time I had it. It was fine, but I didn't love it like I did on my first visit.

Cajeta/sea salt apple fritter was goooood. I think my only complaint about the fritters is that I wish they had more cinnamon...but maybe that's just me. Chipotle/limon doughnut was not quite as chipotle-ful as the first one I had but still really excellent. But personally I was fairly "meh" about the chocolate mole sugar cake doughnut. Don't get me wrong, it was good...I guess I was just hoping for more complex/unusual flavor from it. Or maybe my tastebuds were just off that day....

I still haven't tried any of their raised doughnuts but look forward to doing so. Will have to have one of those maple/bacon ones I think....

It was nice meeting you all! Sorry it was so brief!
ACpaceace
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IMHO, breading/coating and sauces aside, the quality of the chicken is what makes this place shine. Most of the other fried chicken restaurants in town should take note. It seems that some of the Phoenix area chicken and waffle restaurants think bigger is better, but I think bigger might mean older bird and less flavor.
That being said, what a wonderful treat to eat food prepared the way it is supposed to be. Chicken cooked and served at the proper temperature with a crispy coating (I suggest sauce on the side to more enjoy this), wonderful sauces and a cake donut cooked to almost perfection. Outstanding.
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Skillet Doux
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ACpaceace wrote:IMHO, breading/coating and sauces aside, the quality of the chicken is what makes this place shine.
Welcome to the board, ACpaceace, and you are so right about this. The flavor and the texture -- don't know where they're getting their birds, but they're really delicious.

For your viewing pleasure, a panoply of donuts:
Maple Bacon  |  Chocolate Rose Pistachio  |  Chocolate Mole Sugar  |  Cajeta Mesquite Salt
Maple Bacon | Chocolate Rose Pistachio | Chocolate Mole Sugar | Cajeta Mesquite Salt
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I mentioned the first two already, but there isn't a loser among them.

Bax, get the raised donuts. They're light as air.
Dominic Armato
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GoBlue18
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So yeah, this looks like a great way to start your day. [emoji1]

Does anyone know if this can be done for lunch too???

https://m.facebook.com/welcomechickenan ... 4&refid=17
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Skillet Doux
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I heard Jenn mentioning that to somebody! I *think* she said they do it until 10:30, but definitely check... not only might it have changed, but I might have misheard.
Dominic Armato
Bax
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Was back again yesterday; still haven't tried the Japanese sauce because the Vietnamese is so good (even if it does make my car smell a little fish saucy when I do take-out). I know I've seen reviews elsewhere in which people have complained about the pieces of chicken being too small but I always get the 1 piece breast combo and the pieces have always been plenty big (then again I'm a light eater so maybe my standards are different than others'?). The piece they gave me yesterday was HUGE and meaty and fantastic, and I think the sauce was slightly less salty than on previous visits. It was pretty much perfect in every way.

Tried the miso butter corn stir-fry as my side this time; pretty good, not great. It's fresh, and tasty, just no "wow" factor. Will probably alternate between that and the slaw in the future.

Had to get the chipotle/limon cake donut again because I love them, but also got the day's special -- "pumpkin espuma with pasilla sugar." Incredibly light and airy raised donut -- as noted by Dom -- and equally light creamy pumpkin filling. There was a tang/sourness to the pumpkin espuma that got to be sort of weird as I continued eating, and sadly no notable heat from the pasilla sugar topping. Good, but not something I'd order again. I DID make me look forward to trying other varieties of their raised donuts though.

As I've said before, it's probably a good thing that W C+D isn't more conveniently located because otherwise I'd be eating it ALL THE TIME. Still, I can't help but wish they'd serve that chicken at the Diner. I would LOVE to be able to head over there after work and sit outside with some of that chicken and a Kentucky Thoroughbred.
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Skillet Doux
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The chicken pieces have, in my experience, been a little smaller than your average big box restaurant frankenbird, but I consider that a good thing. Quality over quantity.

(Also leaves room for more donuts.)
Dominic Armato
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ScottofStrand
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Finally made it in here over the weekend with my family visiting from Chicago. It lived up to expectations, and the chicken was awesome. The Vietnamese was a little funky for my family, and i'd say even a bit much for me. The Korean sauce was the winner around the table. Cheddar Apple Fritter was great, and the plain cake donut was very solid with the chicken. It's definitely a winner in my book.