Aji WOW: Dragon Quest fried chicken
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Lawson's Karaage-kun fried chicken, in Dragon Quest 'critical hit' flavour.
Karaage-kun is second only to Family Mart's 'famichiki' as the Japanese convenience store fried chicken of choice. They both lag way behind KFC, but that's a whole other story.
Lawson's teamed up with the Dragon Quest RPG for this limited-edition chicken. They've been doing this for a while. 2016 was the 30th anniversary of the game, so it felt like there were celebrations happening all year. Back in December, I found a store in Akihabara that was completely decked out in DoraQue.
I thought the collab was over, and then I heard about the chicken.
This isn't the first Dragon Quest Karaage-kun - I missed out on the garlic mayo Heal Magic chicken. Dragon Quest XI is coming out this summer, so they've kept the product tie-ins going. This one just has the normal toothpick to eat with instead of the mini sword, which is a bit cheap if you ask me.
One side of the cup has a more modern look (XI), and the other side's got a retro Dragon Quest design (the original...?). It's kinda cool to see how the graphics have evolved. There was a special blue slime-shaped lid available until stocks (of lids) ran out. I did not get the special lid. Maybe I should've gone to a bigger Lawson...
An ironically even bigger disappointment was the small serving size. It's being marketed as 'dekaraage' - a pun with 'deka', which means 'huge'. They're nearly 1.5x the size of standard Karaage-kun.
The bits of chicken may be larger than normal, but there were only 5 bits in the cup. And it wasn't a particularly big cup. Can't get more than 5 in there anyway.
I'd read that the till would make the Dragon Quest 'level up' sound when the cup was scanned. It actually happened when I paid and the cash drawer opened. I may have giggled.
The flavour is 'kaishin no ichigeki' - critical hit. Or, when you look at the line directly below, 'rich salt and pepper'. Kinda... boring for a special edition, don't you think?
The chicken was juicy and soft, top marks for Karaage-kun. It tastes good, it's just not a very adventurous flavour. I'd hoped for a more unusual taste. Even the standard Karaage-kun comes in Cheese and spicy Red versions. It's all downhill from garlic mayo, I suppose.
Verdict: 7/10. When Square Enix brings out a Final Fantasy 'chocobo' flavour, give me a call.