Ki Pollo Review – Fried Chicken and Empanadas in Lawrenceville

Published by Angie. Last Updated on June 7, 2021.

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Ki Pollo has now become Nanban by Chef Roger Li. The restaurant features favorites from this one plus Ki Ramen and new dishes.

Ki Pollo is the brainchild of Roger Li (Umami) and Domenic Branduzzi (Piccolo Forno), and it's located in Lawrenceville right next to another establishment of theirs, Ki Ramen.

This one serves up an interesting mix of Korean style fried chicken and Argentinian empanadas.

The restaurant focuses on making everything from scratch, right down to the dipping sauces for the fried chicken. This low key BYOB spot is a perfect place for a quick bite or a takeout meal.

An Odd Combination, But Does it Work?

Chicken at Ki Pollo in Lawrenceville

We've always thought that the combination of fried chicken and empanadas seemed a bit weird. After having a fantastic meal there, however, we're absolutely convinced that the combo works together. Just trust us.

At Ki Pollo you place your order at the counter and the food is brought out to you. The empanadas are made at the front of the restaurant, so while we waited for the food we watched in awe at the process and stared longingly at the rows of glistening little bundles of deliciousness.

If you're the indecisive type you will definitely be challenged here, but in a good way- there are six or so empanada filling options, an equal number of dipping sauce options, and a whole menu of sides as well.

Empanadas at Ki Pollo in Lawrenceville

The empanada fillings range from traditional beef or chicken to more creative and vegetarian options like mushroom, tofu, and pumpkin. Fried chicken comes in orders from two to six pieces, but you can also get a fried chicken sandwich or a combo option. The combo is definitely a great place to start as you get three pieces of chicken and two empanadas.

We couldn't pass up the combo option and got it with one chicken empanada and one mushroom empanada. The chicken was juicy and tender with lots of herbs, while the mushroom was stuffed full of earthy cremini and shitake mushrooms. Flaky, buttery dough surrounded both of them, and the spicy, vinegary chimichurri was perfect for dipping.

The fried chicken was another win- instead of southern style fried chicken where the coating is quite thick and heavy, the Korean style here involves a very light and thin coating. The meat itself was mouthwatering and quite juicy. It was served with our choice of two dipping sauces; our picks were again the chimichurri and a delicious gingery, tangy, tamarind barbecue sauce.

Kim Chi at Ki Pollo

On the side menu are items like house made pickles, bao buns, rice and beans, and braised cabbage; we opted for an order of the spicy and funky kim chi. There are also a few sweets on the menu like flan, dulce de leche, and alfajores. We had wanted to try the alfajores (dulce de leche sandwiched between two soft cookies), but they were sold out. Next time!

One of the only downsides to this spot is the seating arrangement. The seats are quite packed in and maneuvering around other people and tables can be a little challenging.

There aren't too many places in the city to find empanadas or really good fried chicken, let alone both in one location. Overall, we loved the casual vibe of this spot and the inventive, high quality, homemade dishes here, but we're still a bit perplexed at the two items being paired together.

When it comes down to it, I suppose we can get over that. Fried chicken and empanadas it is.

Ki Pollo was located at 4407 Butler Street in Lawrenceville and is now Nanban.

For more great spots in Lawrenceville, click the previous link to check out our neighborhood guide!

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