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Coming home to roost: Count your local chicken options

We called it last year that 2021 was going to be a big year for chicken and so far we’re proved right.

Even with all the great wings spots and fried chicken options we already have in town, there are new local restaurants and fresh dishes that show us the power of poultry.

Bok Bok Chicken recently opened in a former Rubio's location on Easton Drive. (The restaurant shouldn't be confused with Washington-based Bok-a-Bok Chicken.)

The new restaurant specializes in Korean-style fried chicken, with wings, drumsticks, boneless and whole bird options offered in traditional, marinated, garlic soy and barbecue flavors. The menu also includes chicken sandwiches, ramen, cutlets, omelet rice and salads. 

Side dishes include fried shrimp, pickled radish, dumplings, cheese hot dog and fried gizzards. Along with soft drinks, Bok Bok serves adult beverages including Korean wine, rice wine, beer and soju in a variety of fruit flavors.

Bok Bok Chicken is located at 1321 Easton Drive, Suite 100. View the entire menu at bokbokchicken-restaurant.business.site.

And what the cluck? Bakersfield is getting another fried chicken chain! The Chicken Shack will open in the former home of Heidi's Brooklyn Deli on Calloway Drive.

Valley travelers may be acquainted with The Chicken Shack: There are locations in Hanford, Fresno, Clovis and Selma.

Along with chicken fingers and wings, the chain serves up hamburgers, wraps and salads. Those looking for a healthier choice can rest assured grilled chicken is an option on all dishes.

And those looking to spice things up can have their pick of more than two dozen sauces and seasonings including Oh Jeez! Szechuan, Bandido BBQ Tioga Sequoia and HFS, which according to Damon Miller, a valley franchise owner, stands for Hanford Fire Sauce in Hanford and Hot Fulton Sauce in Fresno.

The Chicken Shack will open at 2900 Calloway Drive, although an opening date has yet to be announced. For more on the chain, visit chickenshackca.com.

And the chicken sandwich wars continue. The latest offering from Wendy's is a trio of jalapeño popper sandwiches. The classic and spicy options top the fried chicken breast with jalapeño cream cheese, shredded pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, applewood-smoked bacon and cheddar cheese sauce on a toasted bun. For those looking to cut a few calories, there is a grilled option with an herb-marinated chicken breast.

Even Taco Bell is getting in on the game with a chicken sandwich taco, which will roll out in select locations in Nashville and Charlotte, N.C., on March 11 before a nationwide rollout later this year.

The taco tops crispy chicken with chipotle sauce and serves it in flatbread.

Customers might be reluctant to give the fast-food chain another chance at fried chicken. Its naked chicken chalupa — with a fried-chicken shell instead of a tortilla — garnered mixed reviews when introduced a couple of years ago.

This week, McDonald's released its revamped chicken sandwiches offered in crispy, spicy and deluxe varieties.

The crispy features a fried chicken fillet with crinkle-cut pickles on a potato roll while the spicy option adds a spicy pepper sauce. For the deluxe, they add shredded lettuce, tomatoes and mayo.

And later this year, Burger King will offer its own hand-breaded chicken sandwich, which will consist of a thick-cut white meat chicken breast, breaded by hand and fried, served on a toasted potato bun with deli pickles and a savory signature sauce. It will be available in original or spicy flavors.

“What if hand breading were to chicken what flame-grilling is to burgers? That’s been our guiding filter to bring a delicious chicken sandwich to guests in a way only BK can,” Ellie Doty, the chain's chief marketing officer, said in a news release. “We’ll take the time to get it right and our guests will definitely taste the difference.”

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.