Willy Woos Chicken and Waffles, a delivery service offering a taste of southern American soul food. Photos by Fred Wissink
To many, the American soul food combination of chicken and waffles may seem like an unlikely pairing, but it is one that works and has for a long time. Willy Woos Chicken and Waffles is bringing this decadent dish to Saigon. Like many foods, the history of this sweet and savoury marriage has varying accounts. One version credits Thomas Jefferson with bringing back a waffle iron from France, while others credit freed southern black slaves and the Pennsylvania Dutch. Whatever the origin is, it’s widely accepted that the dish became popular and widespread during the 1920s-40s when an explosion of artistic creativity was taking place in Harlem, New York. Jazz was popular and many shows and parties would end early in the morning. To accommodate the partygoers, restaurants would offer a pairing of fried chicken and waffles for those who couldn’t decide between dinner or breakfast.
Now, chicken and waffles are not considered a party food, but rather a treat when you feel like indulging yourself, and one that has become very popular in the South or in black neighbourhoods in the US.
For those who are still wary of the combo, Willy Woos also offers other soul food. When we went in for a tasting, we were greeted with a huge platter of options that would make any Southerner proud. We start with the namesake, the fried chicken and waffles (VND 200,000 for a fried quarter chicken, Belgian waffle and choice of two sides). The chicken is tender and juicy, with just the right amount of fried skin that is lightly floured, seasoned with salt and pepper, and fried to perfection. The waffle is also nice and I drizzled the remaining syrup over the chicken, which gives it an amazingly unique taste.
Then we try the American-style foot long hot dog (VND 99,000), which brings back childhood memories of summer and barbeque. We’re also given a huge serving of red beans and rice with smoked ham hocks and sausage (VND125,000) and a piece of corn bread (VND55,000), both of which are available as sides with the chicken and waffles combo. The red beans and rice, one of my all-time favourite Southern dishes, is the perfect combination of spicy and smoky. We’re also given a serving of cheesy homemade mac and cheese (VND 110,000), which is available as a side or an entrée in different versions like classic mac and cheese or Alfredo mac and cheese with blackened chicken.
If you feel like a little indulgence, Willy Woos Chicken and Waffles is a great place for some American soul food. Right now Willy Woo’s is a delivery only service with online menus on both www.delivervn.com.