Since early this year, something strange has been happening at the corner of a humble stripmall in the London neighborhood of Hackney. Outside a new chicken takeaway called The Temple of Hackney, scores of people have been lining up for a seemingly simple lunch of fried chicken and hot sides. But this chicken joint is one like no other: all the flesh being served is actually made from plant proteins instead of birds, and this novel fact is actually making it one of the busiest new restaurants in all of London.
Here are 5 reasons they're re-writing the rules of fast food.
1. They're the 1st Ever
Fried chicken has exploded in popularity in recent years around London, with dozens of "chicken shops" devoted to sell this indulgent treat. But The Temple of Hackney is the first to venture into animal-free territory by crafting crispy filets and fried tenders from wheat and soy protein, which is then battered and blended with herbs and spices.
2. They Learned Straight From The Master
Founder Rebecca McGuiness developed a taste for fried chicken when she worked at KFC. After going vegan, she still craved the Colonel's bottomless buckets of wings, so began making and selling her own using plant-only ingredients. Having enjoyed huge success at a farmer's market, she and her husband decided to launch a chicken takeaway.
3. The Response Has Been Insane
Since opening in January, the shop has been overwhelmed by massive crowds, many of them waiting hours in bitter cold and rain to taste Temple of Hackney's chicken n' bacon subs, 2-piece fried chicken meals, roasted chicken rolls with gravy, and special mac 'n cheese.
4. It's Blocking the Butcher Next Door
Temple of Hackney's enthusiastic fans are so legion, they're often blocking the entrance to the Hackney Meat Center, a Muslim butcher shop located next door. The owner is not too happy with it.
5. It Actually Tastes Like Chicken
The reviews are in, and according to omnivores and vegans alike, Temple of Hackney's revolutionary fast food spot doesn't disappoint. Their small-batch, seasoned, chicken-less chicken is so good, they apparently have to assure some customers it really contains no traces of chicken.
As this humble shop continues to see incredible demand, one thing is clear: there is a fast-growing audience for a new type of meat option, one where people can indulge in their favorite meat-centric dishes without guilt or worry about its toll on the environment, animal welfare or a host of other issues. Plant-based meat fits the bill as a cleaner, more creative way to heartily enjoy traditional comfort food, and as Temple of Hackney shows, chicken-less fried chicken can be as delightfully unhealthy as its conventional counterparts.