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The best restaurant dishes of the decade include Smoking Goat’s chilli fish sauce wings James Hansen/Eater London

London’s Best Chicken Wings

Thai fish sauce-coated, classic buffalo, the best Korean fried, and more exceptional wings in London

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When is a hot wing not a hot wing? When it comes with mayonnaise rather than blue cheese or ranch; when its skin is rendered soggy by too much sauce, too soon; when the wing is not separated into drum and flat; or when there is scant evidence of essential chilli heat. Exploring London’s world of wings may sound like fun but the duds far outweigh the doozies, particularly when it comes to buffalo.

Fortunately, there’s more than one way to dress a chicken and for every dodgy hot sauce or ill-conceived 10-option menu, there are Thai-style wings deboned and stuffed with fragrant meat and fish mousse, or battered, deep-fried and made sticky with a Vietnamese fish sauce caramel.

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Korean wings at Chick and Beers

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Chick and Beers is already known for producing some of the best fried chicken in the city, so it’s no surprise that its wings are up to scratch. More than that, they put other K(orean)FC joints to shame with plump meat and crackly batter tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce humming with gochujang. The bold strum of allium notes from frizzles of crispy onion is a stroke of crunch-on-crunch genius.

Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue

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Stepping inside this Philly inspired bar really feels like crossing the Atlantic, where the cheesesteaks are soft and the wings as orange as the president’s face. Correctly jointed and spicily anointed with a classic hot sauce (Frank’s) and butter blend, they feel a cut above their peers. A great blue cheese dip plus unchallenging ice cold beers and American TV to zone out to make for a great evening. Eating wings is anti-social anyway.

Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue
Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue
Passyunk Avenue [Official Photo]

Peek gai yud sai at Supawan Thai Food

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Available at lunchtime only, these stuffed chicken wings are an impressive feat of precise technique. The lightest mousse bulges — Popeye-style — from each meticulously deboned wing. Fat with minced chicken, prawns, mushrooms, and glass noodles, the fragrant stuffing sings with lemongrass. Lightly coated and deep-fried until their batter is crackly and golden, the wings sit proudly in a puddle of deeply flavoured house-made ‘sweet chilli’ sauce.

Buffalo wings at Meatliquor

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Meatliquor fans have been gobbling piles (literally) of their consistently face-numbing wings since it opened the central London site in 2011. According to co-founder Scott Collins, the hot sauce ingredients are “a secret” and the cheese in the accompanying dip is “blue”. What’s certain is that these are high on the acidity scale, so fans of face-puckering snacks — and there are many — will be satisfied. Other venues can be found here.

Angry birds at Nanban

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If this list were in rank order, these wings would be a candidate for the top spot. Crunchy and properly spicy with a scotch bonnet heat that’s mitigated by honey and ponzu butter sauce. A seaweed garnish brings its unmistakable iodine twang. Like some of the best foods, they make the eater feel slightly delinquent, and the name itself is a tiny thrill.

Fish Sauce wings at Smoking Goat

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The best Vietnamese dish at a Thai restaurant anywhere in London, these wings have reappeared on the menu after a distressing absence due to a broken fryer. Wings can be laborious to prep says head chef Ben Curtis, as the collagen and tendon take time to soften through slow cooking, pre-fry. These days he prefers to savour the chewiness by cooking them hot and fast before coating in nuoc mau, a caramel made with plenty of light fish sauce and palm sugar. Crisp garlic, dried chilli, fresh sliced shallot, and coriander complete a dish that’s very messy, tricky to eat, and a stone-cold classic.

Kung pao disco wings at Chick 'n' Sours

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Disco wings: where the crunch is loud and the flavours are jumping. Owner Carl Clarke has been tweaking this recipe for over a decade and it shows; they’re brined overnight, coated in a secret seasoning then cooked to a Korean method which means low heat pressure fry, high heat deep fry and a very crunchy end result. The kung pao sauce takes inspiration from the Sichuan dish kung pao chicken using soy, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Whole fried chillies, pickled chillies, peanuts, and spring onion bring salty, acidic pops. Various locations.

Vincent wings at The Orange Buffalo

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Nick and Mike opened the Orange Buffalo truck on Brick Lane in 2012 and have since gained two restaurants — in Hoxton and Tooting. Wings are available in five sauces of varying heat levels and the second-to-hottest (Vincent) is the best. All are properly jointed, fizzing from the fryer and served with a rub-your-thighs-funky blue cheese sauce. It’s the mango that makes the Vincent wings so good — scotch bonnet and tropical fruit is a tried and tested combination, bringing welcome Club Tropicana vibes to a dusty corner of East London.

Arbol chilli and butter wings at La Chingada

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One would expect one of London’s only “truly Mexican” restaurants to serve truly memorable wings and that, happily, is the case. Chef-owner Walter Opitz nods to the traditional hot wing formula by cutting chilli sauce with butter, but eschewing scotch bonnet and the ubiquitous Frank’s Red Hot for chile de arbol, also known as the rat’s tail or bird’s beak chilli. This small, potent pepper has a clean, fresh, searing heat that works well against the richness of dairy fat, and both slide effortlessly over deep fried poultry.

Korean wings at Chick and Beers

Chick and Beers is already known for producing some of the best fried chicken in the city, so it’s no surprise that its wings are up to scratch. More than that, they put other K(orean)FC joints to shame with plump meat and crackly batter tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce humming with gochujang. The bold strum of allium notes from frizzles of crispy onion is a stroke of crunch-on-crunch genius.

Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue

Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue
Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue
Passyunk Avenue [Official Photo]

Stepping inside this Philly inspired bar really feels like crossing the Atlantic, where the cheesesteaks are soft and the wings as orange as the president’s face. Correctly jointed and spicily anointed with a classic hot sauce (Frank’s) and butter blend, they feel a cut above their peers. A great blue cheese dip plus unchallenging ice cold beers and American TV to zone out to make for a great evening. Eating wings is anti-social anyway.

Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue
Buffalo wings at Passyunk Avenue
Passyunk Avenue [Official Photo]

Peek gai yud sai at Supawan Thai Food

Available at lunchtime only, these stuffed chicken wings are an impressive feat of precise technique. The lightest mousse bulges — Popeye-style — from each meticulously deboned wing. Fat with minced chicken, prawns, mushrooms, and glass noodles, the fragrant stuffing sings with lemongrass. Lightly coated and deep-fried until their batter is crackly and golden, the wings sit proudly in a puddle of deeply flavoured house-made ‘sweet chilli’ sauce.

Buffalo wings at Meatliquor

Meatliquor fans have been gobbling piles (literally) of their consistently face-numbing wings since it opened the central London site in 2011. According to co-founder Scott Collins, the hot sauce ingredients are “a secret” and the cheese in the accompanying dip is “blue”. What’s certain is that these are high on the acidity scale, so fans of face-puckering snacks — and there are many — will be satisfied. Other venues can be found here.

Angry birds at Nanban

If this list were in rank order, these wings would be a candidate for the top spot. Crunchy and properly spicy with a scotch bonnet heat that’s mitigated by honey and ponzu butter sauce. A seaweed garnish brings its unmistakable iodine twang. Like some of the best foods, they make the eater feel slightly delinquent, and the name itself is a tiny thrill.

Fish Sauce wings at Smoking Goat

The best Vietnamese dish at a Thai restaurant anywhere in London, these wings have reappeared on the menu after a distressing absence due to a broken fryer. Wings can be laborious to prep says head chef Ben Curtis, as the collagen and tendon take time to soften through slow cooking, pre-fry. These days he prefers to savour the chewiness by cooking them hot and fast before coating in nuoc mau, a caramel made with plenty of light fish sauce and palm sugar. Crisp garlic, dried chilli, fresh sliced shallot, and coriander complete a dish that’s very messy, tricky to eat, and a stone-cold classic.

Kung pao disco wings at Chick 'n' Sours

Disco wings: where the crunch is loud and the flavours are jumping. Owner Carl Clarke has been tweaking this recipe for over a decade and it shows; they’re brined overnight, coated in a secret seasoning then cooked to a Korean method which means low heat pressure fry, high heat deep fry and a very crunchy end result. The kung pao sauce takes inspiration from the Sichuan dish kung pao chicken using soy, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Whole fried chillies, pickled chillies, peanuts, and spring onion bring salty, acidic pops. Various locations.

Vincent wings at The Orange Buffalo

Nick and Mike opened the Orange Buffalo truck on Brick Lane in 2012 and have since gained two restaurants — in Hoxton and Tooting. Wings are available in five sauces of varying heat levels and the second-to-hottest (Vincent) is the best. All are properly jointed, fizzing from the fryer and served with a rub-your-thighs-funky blue cheese sauce. It’s the mango that makes the Vincent wings so good — scotch bonnet and tropical fruit is a tried and tested combination, bringing welcome Club Tropicana vibes to a dusty corner of East London.

Arbol chilli and butter wings at La Chingada

One would expect one of London’s only “truly Mexican” restaurants to serve truly memorable wings and that, happily, is the case. Chef-owner Walter Opitz nods to the traditional hot wing formula by cutting chilli sauce with butter, but eschewing scotch bonnet and the ubiquitous Frank’s Red Hot for chile de arbol, also known as the rat’s tail or bird’s beak chilli. This small, potent pepper has a clean, fresh, searing heat that works well against the richness of dairy fat, and both slide effortlessly over deep fried poultry.

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