Karaage over rice, plus an order of wings, at Sticky's Chicken.

Nobody is breaking new ground with just Chicken over rice. It's one of the few dishes that translates into nearly every culture. But few restaurants and establishments feature it as the headline offering, then turn it into something quintessentially theirs. The Halal Guys, from New York food cart to multi-national brand with five locations in the Houston area, makes good use of the chicken-over-rice-as-star formula. But who else?

Sticky's Chicken, first a food truck and now a brick-and-mortar at Sawyer Yards. The concept from Patsy and Benson Vivares has a short but potent menu that knows what it does well: chicken, rice, fries, and variations and combinations of those things with sauces. Order at the counter, find a seat, and a few minutes later you'll be eating. Simple.

The basic chicken over rice with its proprietary Sticky's sauce is a solid lunchtime fill-up, though it doesn't have the same oomph and intrigue as the Halal Guys' version, whose orange rice and pita coated in its mayo-based white sauce feels like quintessential New York street action. Still, I love Sticky's rice, a little fried with a garlicky and peppery bite. 

I also had the karaage over rice, and while the rice was again terrific, the fried chicken happened to be a little too dry and crunchy, lacking the salty juiciness that makes me pine for more. Also, man did I want to squeeze a little citrus onto this dish.

Each time eating Sticky's, I return to the wings. Crispy on the outside and cooked perfectly inside, they're definitely contenders for the best I've had in the city. A drizzle of Sticky's sauce adds a nice level of tangy richness.

Hand it to Sticky's Chicken for being among the best at what it does—frying up flavorful chicken and pairing it with undeniably delicious rice. I'm excited to see how it continues to build on a global favorite, using dynamic Houston as its inspiration.

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