Here’s a Szechuan-style take on Nashville hot fried chicken

Why a literal hole-in-the-wall chicken joint is worth the trip to Renton.

Renton has a secret. Well, I don’t know if it is a secret, but everytime I go, I feel as if I have been let in on something special that others don’t know about.

This location is not in a secret spot. It’s in Downtown Renton for all to see and walk by. It is a humble place — it does not look like much more than a parking lot with an open door with a pop-up awning and a foldable table with a service bell.

I do not know what is on the inside of that door, but I know some of the best hot fried chicken in King County comes out of it.

Yummy Meats & Deli on 509 South 3rd Street in Downtown Renton has a unique Szechuan-style take on Nashville hot chicken, and I cannot stay away.

Although I have been trying for months to speak with the folks behind this fried poultry innovation to ask them about what specifically makes this chicken so special, my requests for an interview have been politely declined by the very kind and accommodating woman who diligently fulfills orders from their parking lot door.

Despite my multiple rejections, I still return for the chicken. I eat it in the parking lot, sweat creeping down my face from the punishing smoky heat of their spice blend. I am not ashamed.

The blend of spices that cover the crispy breading of their chicken resembles that of a traditional piece of Nashville hot chicken but includes notes of Chinese five spice that give it a sweet, savory, smoky and complex flavor.

When ordering chicken there, one can choose from a scale to determine how hot and spicy they would like their chicken. I experimented with this, first choosing medium, followed by hot, then finally trying “X-Hot” before promising myself that I would never do that to myself again.

That is not to say that the “X-Hot” was not delicious — I just believe there is wisdom in knowing your limits and when you have flown too close to the sun.

At Yummy Meats & Deli, you can have your chicken your way. You can have tenders accompanied by delicious sauces made in-house. You can get a chicken tender sandwich with a refreshing coleslaw, or you can get a chicken sandwich with a piece of chicken on it that is literally as large as the container it comes in.

I unknowingly ordered the latter option upon my first visit and was surprised, impressed and entertained by the fact that the bun of the sandwich looked as if the chicken was wearing a comically-small hat.

Don’t ask me how to eat a sandwich like that. I did not know how either, but I ate it just the same and you will have to as well.

The menu at Yummy Meats & Deli is not limited to breaded chicken. It also includes plenty of interesting roasted duck dishes, roasted pork belly, noodles, and rice dishes.

Have I tried any of those, you ask? Well, no, but that’s only because when I arrive, I am there for the chicken and the chicken alone. I know it, they know it, that’s just how it is.

However, I encourage those in Renton and those from outside of town to stop by and try what they got to offer — just not before you try the chicken.