Review: Chicken & Rice Bowls from KFC
To date, a complete meal in a bowl from KFC meant getting a KFC Famous Bowl (see Cheesy Bacon Bowl and Loaded Potato Bowl). The biggest problem with those bowls was mediocre mashed potatoes making up 3/4th’s of the food. KFC’s new Chicken & Rice Bowls replace the mashed potatoes with white rice for a lighter meal and more balanced blend of ingredients.
The Loaded Potato Bowl and Cheesy Bacon Bowl from KFC felt like a mountain of mashed potatoes with a sprinkling of everything else. These two new Chicken & Rice Bowls felt like a mountain of everything else on top of a sprinkling of white rice. Let’s review.
My Zesty Tex Mex Chicken & Rice Bowl came with nine pieces of Popcorn chicken in various sizes, mostly the meatier pieces. The meatier Popcorn chicken pieces usually lack the thicker, crisper crust you’ll find in the small pieces that turn out to be a lot of breading build-up. There’s also a “pico de gallo”, a three-cheese blend, chopped green onions, and spicy ranch sauce drizzled over it all. The white rice is layered at the bottom and makes up a little less than half of the total ingredients. It’s light and mixes well the spicy ranch sauce. The spicy ranch sauce doesn’t have much of a ranch vibe and it’s more like a cream-based salad dressing that has a peppery kick. I put quotations around pico de gallo because it’s a pretty weak attempt at pico de gallo. The KFC pico de gallo looked to just be diced tomato, red onion, and maybe the lightest hint of cilantro imaginable. The pico had no sign of peppers, lime, or salt… just mostly diced tomato/onion. The tomato/onion blend was crisp and fresh, but not a great attempt at pico de gallo. Having a decent amount of chopped green onions provided for a nice color and freshness. A mild three-cheese blend consisting of mozzarella, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses felt like a typical way to round out any KFC Bowl and there was just enough of it to make an impact. The cheese didn’t really melt much from the heat of the chicken so it came across how a fresh cheese blend would in a salad. The Zesty Tex Mex Chicken & Rice Bowl had a really nice ratio of ingredients that everything was noticed in the proper hierarchy.The Sweet n’ Spicy BBQ Chicken & Rice Bowl includes pulled Honey BBQ Chicken, three-cheese blend, chopped green onions, and spicy ranch sauce on white rice. There was a lot more melt going on with this bowl as the saucy Honey BBQ Chicken provided enough heat to get a nice gooey cheese shield to develop over it all. The chopped green onions didn’t have the same impact of crisp freshness that it did with the Tex Mex version because of the extra sauce and melt.The sweetness and spice of the Honey BBQ Chicken felt like more than enough flavor to make this bowl work on its own without the spicy ranch sauce. On its own, the sweet and smokey sauce from the chicken has strong flavors of molasses and chili pepper that when combined with the spicy ranch sauce makes for a strange and confusing blend. Just like with the Zesty Tex Mex Chicken & Rice Bowl, the Sweet n’ Spicy BBQ version didn’t overwhelm the bowl with rice. I found I actually wanted more rice with the BBQ bowl because it’s so saucy that more rice to cut through the flavors would have helped the balance. My Zesty Tex Mex Bowl had everything portioned to make the experience work a lot better and it also felt bulkier than the BBQ. Looking at the two Bowls side by side you can tell the BBQ version is more sunken in, likely from the weight and heat of the pulled chicken and sauce. More rice would have helped things out for the Sweet n’ Spicy BBQ Chicken & Rice Bowl. The Chicken & Rice Bowls are a part of the $5 Fill-Ups promo which includes a chocolate chip cookie and medium drink. I tried to order the Bowls without the combo and they were priced at $5.49. How does that make sense? I can’t help but say the odd pricing makes the value take a hit. The Loaded Potato Bowls were $3.99 alone and a part of the $5 Fill-Ups too… so why not these? Overall, I enjoyed Chicken & Rice Bowls a lot more than the Potato Bowls. While the BBQ version had some easily correctable issues, the Tex Mex version made up for them.
Pros: Filling. $5 Fill-Up option is a complete meal. Spicy ranch sauce works well on the Zesty Tex Mex version. Packaging.
Cons: Questionable pricing. Spicy ranch sauce on the Sweet 'n Spicy Bowl didn't make sense.
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.25/10
Price: $5.49 for the bowl itself (or $5.00 with a medium drink and chocolate chip cookie)
Overall GrubGrade: 6.75/10
More Info: kfc.com