Crispy rendang chicken and the subsequent #RendangGate hullabaloo over it is as stale as rancid poultry, but fast food chain Popeyes are adamant to hop on the bandwagon. The MasterChef UK judges may have a severely warped sense of what constitutes rendang chicken, but the fried chicken joint one-upped the corruption by adding a Hawaiian twist.
And by Hawaiian, we mean they tossed pineapple chunks on it. As you do. Wave goodbye to good taste and say hello to the new Aloha Rendang Chicken. Available for a limited time only, thank the food gods.
Is it Hawaiian? Is it Malay? It’s an aberration, that’s what it is. Instead of infusing the complex, aromatic spices of rendang into the chicken batter as they could have cleverly done, Popeyes went the cheap route like Ikea Singapore and simply slapped rendang sauce onto their fried chicken parts. Presumably wanting to stand out from the competish, Popeyes then decided it should be marketed as “Hawaiian” and topped it all with bits of onion and pineapple.
The result IRL looks like the antithesis of appetizing, according to these cats from Stirr who tried it out.
The only redeeming bit from the new offering is the inclusion of Nestle’s Cucumber Lemonade drink, a beverage that’s probably a much-needed respite for your confused, marred tastebuds.
But to be fair, pineapple and rendang are not that odd an association together. Folks do eat rendang beef or chicken together with acar (pickled vegetable), which may or may not contain pineapples, depending on the variation. It’s not that odd too if one is eating rendang together with pineapple fried rice. But topping rendang sauce and pineapple mush on Southern-style cajun fried chicken and calling it “Hawaiian”? For shame, bruh.
Popeyes may have dropped the ball for this one, but things are looking up for Zaleha Kadir Olpin — the Malaysian-born cook whose authentic non-crispy chicken rendang got her booted out of MasterChef UK. Since her sudden worldwide fame, her Malaysian Kitchen Supper Club (and Malaysian cuisine in general) has been enjoying bigger recognition in the UK.