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100 Favorite Dishes, No. 43 The Vietnamese Fried Chicken at Cosmo’s

Crunchy Vietnamese fried chicken and cole slaw with fish sauce star at Cosmo's for $12.
Crunchy Vietnamese fried chicken and cole slaw with fish sauce star at Cosmo's for $12.
Nick Rallo
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Leading up to September's Best of Dallas® 2017 issue, we're sharing (in no particular order) our 100 Favorite Dishes, the Dallas entrées, appetizers and desserts that really stuck with us this year.

About eight years ago, Cosmo’s veteran Jackson Tran crafted a menu that infused his background in Vietnamese comfort food into Lakewood's long-standing dive bar. He called it a pop-up. Tran’s parents are also great chefs; they came from Can Tho in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Tran was born in a Red Cross refugee camp in Indonesia.

Wednesday is usually Vietnamese fried chicken day at Cosmo’s, but you never know when these crunchy morsels will cross your path. It’s one of Dallas’ most underdiscussed fried chicken meals. Tran brines chicken in buttermilk, dredges it in equal parts all-purpose and rice flour — which will give it a miraculously brittle-crisp skin — then fries it in soybean oil. Ask for it spicy, for the love of Bourdain, and your glasslike breading gets hit with a sauce of fried chili paste, garlic chiles, soy and sugar. You'll moan like Bill Murray eating dinner in What About Bob?.

It’s all served at a bar that delivers eyebrow-nuking cocktails and plays VHS tapes of old, shitty movies. The fried chicken plate comes with slaw — shredded cabbage with cilantro, fish sauce and chopped peanuts — and a big pile of stupidly crispy tater tots. This is the bar food of the gods.

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