Popcorn Chicken – Ashley Chen / The Highlander

Many students, including myself, consider popcorn chicken to be a staple snack in their lives. Luckily, UCR is conveniently located near several establishments serving up this savory dish. From Ten Rens Tea Time to Tim Boba, you’ll surely find something that will satisfy your craving. I made it my mission to try and find the best popcorn chicken from these establishments and ranked them from worst to best 一 so you don’t have to. 

No. 3: Ten Rens Tea Time

Ten Rens Tea Time is a small restaurant located down University Avenue, making it an eight minute drive from campus. The popcorn chicken snack I ordered came out to $8.57, which was pretty expensive for what I recieved. The pieces given to me were largely cut, which defeated the purpose of it being “popcorn,” and the quantity was minimal. Texture wise, the breading was a bit soft, and I did not taste the seasoning as well as I should have. I was sad with these results 一 especially since I’ve had such a good experience with their other dishes. I would not get this again. 

No. 2: Cha2o

This was a tough decision to make! Located right next door to Ten Rens Tea Time, Cha2o is also an eight minute drive from campus. Making this the most expensive of the three establishments, the popcorn chicken snack came out to be $8.70. And while their version of popcorn chicken was a bit pricier, they did not disappoint. The pieces of chicken were cut into smaller pieces, and each bite was very crunchy. The seasoning on this chicken tasted the best, and I was very satisfied with the spice level. Unfortunately, the only pitfall which kept Cha2o from snagging first place was the fact that the chicken tasted rubbery after the first bite. From then on, I had to chew a great deal before swallowing. 

No. 1: Tim Boba

Coming in at No. 1 is Tim Boba, located further down University Avenue from Ten Rens Tea Time and Cha2o. Rounding out to be a 10 minute drive from campus, it was my farthest location of the night. I was completely satisfied with Tim Boba. Having been the least expensive at $8.00 flat, the quantity of chicken surprisingly surpassed both of the previous locations. Not to mention, the meat was cut into the cutest, bite-sized pieces, making it the perfect snack to share. The texture had the right ratio of crunchy breading and tender chicken. Additionally, the seasoning was right on point and tasted delicious  with the sweet chili sauce provided. Overall, I would definitely recommend coming to Tim Boba for popcorn chicken.