On an 18-year quest spanning 24 countries and five continents, Singaporean marketing consultant 41-year-old Jacky Tan has eaten over 1,000 Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) meals to find the world’s best “Original Recipe” KFC chicken.
His journey started in 2005 after discovering that KFC’s signature “Original Recipe” chicken tasted different abroad. For those uneducated on the craft of fried chicken, KFC’s Original Recipe is a secret mix of ingredients that the fast-food restaurant chain uses to season its fried chicken.
Since then, he has seized every chance to indulge in the deep-fried speciality during his work travels or vacations with his wife, Michelle. However, Michelle is typically an unwilling participant and requires some persuasion to deviate from their itinerary.
Last week, his story was published in a British online newspaper, The Independent.
Jacky makes the same order of Original Recipe fried chicken in every country to analyse all KFC meals fairly.
His evaluation system, known as TaF-CA, is an abbreviation for taste, freshness, crispiness, and aroma—the four essential elements he employs to assess every KFC meal.
He would usually order two or four pieces if he was hungry or had yet to eat before spotting the KFC outlet in the country he was in. However, he noted that he would only bother with the rest of the chicken pieces if the first piece of chicken passed his first criterion: taste.
He shared that he disliked chicken pieces that were either too salty or bland.
Jacky’s discerning taste buds were not impressed with the chicken he sampled in the UK, placing it at 21st on his list, surpassing only Australia, Hong Kong, and Spain.
Spain, which definitely wasn’t finger-lickin’ good to him, made a negative impression on him because he felt that the chicken served there was too dry and unseasoned.
He compared it to the feeling of eating rubber, joking that the best thing he tried in Spain was probably the soft drink usually served with KFC meal sets.
Best KFC Outlets According to Jacky
After the exhaustive journey of tasting over 1,000 KFC fried chickens, Jacky has proclaimed that Mongolia ranked first in his list of KFC meals worldwide.
The marketing consultant was on a business trip in the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, in 2013, where he immediately jumped into a queue at a newly opened KFC outlet there.
Despite waiting for one hour, he stated that the meal he ate there made the wait “totally worth it”, as he felt that the KFC chicken served in Mongolia was one of the best out of all the KFC meals he had tried.
With his reliable ranking system and seasoned taste buds, he declared that the deep-fried chicken he savoured in Mongolia had the “distinctive” flavours he craved and checked all the boxes for TaF-CA.
The next best chicken on Jacky’s list is over 7,000 miles away at the departure terminal of Cape Town International Airport, which offers a delectable meal and an awe-inspiring view of Table Mountain.
While their chicken also received high marks, it still fell slightly short of Mongolia’s.
Completing Jacky’s top ten picks are Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Chile, the Philippines, and South Korea.
Yes, Malaysia before Singapore.
Not Always A Smooth Journey
Trying KFC across the world can be challenging for Jacky, and one of the first hurdles is convincing his wife, who does not share the same enthusiasm he has for KFC meals.
He states that his wife gets frustrated at him sometimes due to his insistence on eating KFC during their trips. She often feels they should try the local cuisine or something different from KFC, which is also available in Singapore.
Despite the circumstances, his devotion to his mission is unparalleled, as he even managed to squeeze in a visit to KFC during his honeymoon in Barcelona, Spain.
Witnessing his unwavering enthusiasm, his wife frequently gives in and permits him to visit the KFC restaurant in their destination country at the end of their travels.
Other than having to persuade his wife to join his “cause”, there have been cases where the countries he visits do not have a KFC outlet. Sometimes, he only spots the KFC outlets after already having a meal, forcing him to take away the chicken to taste it separately.
Not Indicative of KFC Standards Around the World
Undoubtedly, he has sampled more KFC meals than the average person, but with over 25,000 outlets in 145 countries, there are still numerous KFC outlets to explore.
He acknowledges that his global ranking may not align with everyone’s opinion and emphasises that various factors come into play when evaluating KFC’s offerings.
His ranking was based on taste, freshness, crispiness, and aroma, but it was also based on his opinion at the time of trying the food. As such, he implored the public to take his ranking with a pinch of salt.
He also stressed that the outlets he ranked at the bottom might not accurately represent the KFC standard in that particular country or restaurant. He admits to regularly revising his list, so the rankings for Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore could differ from time to time.
In Jacky’s full global KFC ranking, Malaysia is two spots above Singapore. This may or may not come as a surprise, as among all the silly things our countries compete on, Malaysia has always had a silent victory over us regarding KFC fried chicken.
His full global KFC ranking puts Mongolia first in his top 20 picks, with South Africa, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Chile, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, Peru, Taiwan, Italy, Bolivia, France, USA and Germany following after.
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