Chicken wings aren’t just for tailgate parties anymore — there are plenty of options for finding the popular finger food, from bars and national chain restaurants to family-run operations with their own styles of sauces.
Here are five must-try places on Oahu, from the latest and greatest to a few more well-established wing destinations.
Tucked away in the back of Palama Market in Kalihi, Von’s Chicken is the first Hawaii franchise of a Korean fast-food chain, and it has built a cult following since it opened in May. Call ahead if you’re in a hurry; frying up the chicken fresh for each customer means at least a 15- to 20-minute wait per order.
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That said, the Korean-style fried chicken ($11.99 for 10 pieces, $20.99 for 20) is worth sticking around for. It’s less greasy than its American counterpart, with plenty of crunch from the breading. Oven-baked options are also available, with the chicken tossed in a kochujang-based Von’s Special Sauce, garlic sauce, honey mustard sauce, "Hot Volcano" sauce or white wine reduction. None of the sauces is as bold as you might expect from a Korean joint, but they’re flavorful enough to keep you reaching for another wing before licking your fingers clean.
1070 N. King St.; 845-9510
Wings & Things by Serg
Drive down East Manoa Road and it’s pretty hard to miss the former gas station that’s now home to Serg’s Mexican Kitchen. But did you know owner Sergio Arellano also sells chicken wings out of a small storefront next door?
Wings & Things by Serg serves its Signature Wings in orders of six ($8.99), 12 ($14.99), 24 ($28.99) or 50 ($55.99) pieces, but those numbers are deceiving — unlike all the other restaurants listed here, Wings & Things serves both the drummette and midsection as a single piece. You’re effectively getting twice as much chicken per order.
Of the sauces offered here, stick with roasted garlic, lemon or honey mustard for more mellow heat levels; the chipotle barbecue, mango habanero, Buffalo and El Diablo all get progressively hotter, with the El Diablo definitely not for the faint of heart.
2740 E. Manoa Road; 988-1514; facebook.com/WingsandThingsbySerg
Sure, go ahead and stop by JJ Dolan’s for a slice and a beer — just don’t forget an order of wings. Lots of bars have them listed on their menus, but many get it wrong by frying the chicken in oil that’s not hot enough, leading to greasy, rubbery wings.
Not JJ Dolan’s, which has never let me down in all the years I’ve gone there. For $8.95 you get a basket of 10 wings (sometimes more if the kitchen crew is in a good mood) that are just about the crispest you can find in Honolulu. No sauce needed here; just be sure to wait long enough that you don’t unleash a torrent of scalding hot juices when biting into each piece — otherwise you’ll be self-medicating with tongue-numbing shots of whiskey in no time.
1147 Bethel St.; 537-4992; jjdolans.com
Buffalo Wild Wings
More than 20 flavor options await at Buffalo Wild Wings, from a mild Sweet BBQ to more heated choices like Thai curry, mango habanero and Blazin’. But don’t sleep on the dry seasonings here — you’ll rip through a snack-sized order ($8.49, five pieces) of salt-vinegar wings in no time, while BWW’s version of Buffalo wings brings the amount of heat you’d expect without getting too messy.
The best time to visit is on Tuesdays, when wings are just 70 cents each. Load up on Parmesan Garlic, Asian Zing and Jammin’ Jalapeno wings for more than half off regular prices. It’s a no-brainer!
Discovery Bay, 983-3933, and Pearl Highlands Center, 260-9464; buffalowildwings.com
Leeward Oahu residents don’t mess around when it comes to chicken wings. At Dirty Lickins in Aiea, wings come in orders of anywhere from five ($4.79) or 10 ($8.79) to 100-, 200- or even 500-count party platters. Keep it local style and order your wings in a plate lunch, or pick up a combo with fries and a drink for a quick meal.
Sauces here range from mild to Volcanic, plus honey mustard and garlic; those not into burning their taste buds will be well served by the teriyaki-glazed variety, which has just the right amount of sweetness slathered on crisp fried wings to become your newest addiction.
99-115 Aiea Heights Drive, No. 303; 486-8500; dirtylickinshawaii.com