Is Li Chee Chinese in Belize City the Best Fried Chicken in the Country?
Fried chicken or (“fry chicken”) is a hugely popular dish here in Belize. And in almost all communities, the busiest place to buy it is at your “local Chiney” or the local Chinese restaurant.
Most Chinese restaurants in Belize are more fast food joint doing swift, late night business in take-away fried chicken drenched with sweet ketchup rather than a place for dim sum or won ton soup. In fact, if you order the a Chinese-American staple like an eggroll, you might get a roll that has been in the freezer since…I don’t know…Hurricane Mitch?
They say stew chicken is the national dish of Belize but based on what I’ve seen (and eaten)? I’d say Fry Chicken with sweet ketchup is a definite contender.
SO it’s time for me to up my game – to officially find the best fried chicken. Not just in San Pedro (that’s at Reef Restaurant on Middle Street in my book) but country-wide. And it’s been a long time coming but FINALLY I tried Li Chee Chicken. Probably the biggest name in fry chicken in Belize.
So popular in fact, that this short movie was made showing Adolf Hitler freaking out when his minions don’t get him his Li Chee Chicken.
Tee hee. Serious business!
My taxi driver, Teddy Bear (his card even says Teddy Bear) drove me to Li Chee on Freetown Road right near the Puma Gas station and what used to be the Subway in Belize City. YES! An actual subway. But long closed.
Teddy Bear’s taxi. We arrived early…maybe 10:45am and Li Chee was just opening so…no line.
This is the new location. Apparently the old one was much…grottier. Inside, the place is clean…very clean. Just look at the stainless steel cage the ladies operate in.
A buffet behind bars! This is actually relatively common in bigger towns in Belize. Since the restaurants are open late and crime is a possibility, they operate in a cage. But this is the first time I’ve seen stainless steel bars. Fancy!
Inside? These ladies.
Not one will make eye contact with you. The customer service is…rough. Granted they are probably used to a huge line and a tough late night crowd but…ugh. They glanced at me like I was fresh out of a long stint at the prison for child molestation. The bars do make sense…
I guess people don’t go to Li Chee for the happy attitude, welcoming smile or to feel special. It’s about the chicken. Let’s eat.
You can order chicken in dollar increments starting at $5bzd. I went for $6 dolla leg. And took a look in the air conditioned dining area. This isn’t just a take-out joint.
I came back and one of the ladies was coming out of a side room. Through the open door I saw, what must have been 200 lbs of flour of a HUGE table and three guys dredging chicken pieces. WHAT AN OPERATION. No wonder it’s so cheap. Look what $6bzd or $3US gets you.
Fries, a plastic cup filled with their famous “steak sauce”, lots of chicken and ketchup. You want the ketchup. Because it’s not Heinz ketchup at all…it’s almost like sweet and sour sauce. I hear some places doctor it up with orange fanta. I believe it.
The steak sauce is more of a oily brown glaze. If you’ve had Chinese food in the states, it’s called “brown sauce”. It’s kinda tasteless. I tried it with one piece of chicken but fell back on the ketchup. It’s really tasty on the chicken.
SO…is this the best fried chicken in Belize? No. It’s not. It is good. It is fast. (They pre-cook it and then crisp it up in a giant wok when you order). It is cheap. Li Chee is open late. And it has a heavy very crispy crust which is satisfying but a bit bland. The chicken is pretty juicy but not fresh cooked juicy and it too is bland.
The best chicken in Belize REMAINS Syd’s in Caye Caulker. You’ve got to try their Fried Chicken Friday.
But now I have a full list of chicken joints to try around Belize City. Pratt’s (Belizean owned with BBQ sauce), Friendship Chinese (jalapeno in the batter), Kick Down Fence (Belizean owned and well…the best name for sure), Fibber’s (delicious honey sauce)…
My search continues.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I am more than happy to eat as much Fried Chicken as I can.
OH YES! One more thing. I’ve heard…what I will call a Belizean Urban Legend from a few people. It goes a little something like this. Pollo Somebody (a huge Mexican or Guatemalan fried chicken chain) or KFC comes to Belize to scout out some locations. The executives go around Belize City tasting fried chicken at all the local joints named above and decide that Belize’s fried chicken is SO GOOD that it would be useless opening up a franchise here.
Can anyone verify this story?