Dude Food: J J Fish & Chicken

J J Fish & Chicken
2332 W. Ledbetter Dr.

Dude Factor: 10, or Muddy the Mudskipper, on a scale of 1 (the vegetarian shark in Shark Tale) to 10

Until I got my receipt, I didn't know what this place was called. But the name--typeset as one J-shaped fish, a smaller straight fish and another J-shaped fish all hanging from a horizontal line--is only the start of the confusion. There was also the chaotic pricing and information overload from the day-glow signs hanging everywhere advertising seemingly every item the place sells in every possible combination. From all appearances, J J never replaces a sign for an outdated offer, opting instead to put up a new sign as far as possible from the sign it should replace. I saw three different prices for 8-oz tubs of coleslaw.

More confusing still were the menu options I'd never heard of until trying the place. What the hell are whiting fish and buffalo fish? And who eats catfish tails?

I've been three or four times, sticking with shrimp and parts of the catfish that were meant for human consumption. But considering how good of a job the place does with shrimp, I'll probably get around to trying something less familiar.

Sometimes the platters come with a couple of pieces of white bread sprinkled with a dash of spicy seasoning, sometimes they come with about a tablespoon of coleslaw, sometimes both. You could starve to death reading the fine print on every menu option. I can only imagine how much more complicated it would be if they started offering options on how the food is cooked. As it is, everything but bread and dessert is deep-fried.

On my most recent visit I ordered a 10-piece shrimp special with fries, which was a steal at $5.54--though it came with neither bread nor slaw.

A fellow dude diner opted for the three-piece chicken tender meal for $4.81. As if to flaunt the white bread that came with his platter, he made chicken sandwiches with his strips. With a couple of 16-oz. Dr Pepper bottles (the soda fountain seems to be on permanent disability) our bill came to exactly $14. Quite a value, too. For that cheap, I'd have expected shrimp of the popcorn variety. But these appeared fresh, thumb-sized and nicely seasoned but not too spicy with paprika and cayenne. The chicken strips also looked and tasted like it was actually prepared some time this year, and the fries were crispy.

Clearly, what money the place makes selling food so cheap does not go into the former Taco Bell's interior design budget, unless they're still making payments on the bulletproof glass that separates the cashier from the dining area. It looks like the railing that used to corral customers was simply hacksawed away, though someone was considerate enough to cover the jagged stumps with a few layers of duct tape.