They say that stew chicken with rice and beans is the national dish of Belize but I’m not so sure about that.
Much like the U.S., where the national dish might be apple pie but the unofficial national dish is probably a super sized carton of French (Freedom) fries, Belize’s thriving fast food industry gives stew chicken a serious run for its money.
Chinese food here is the fast food of Belize. And I’m pretty sure that if you arrived fresh from a small village in China, you wouldn’t recognize these restaurant’s most popular dish. Fry chicken with french fries and TONS of sweet sweet SWEET ketchup. Served always in a flip top styrofoam container.
Here is my huge $5bzd or $2.50US helping from the VERY popular Li Chee in Belize City.
Just about a month ago, I expanded my fried chicken self-assignment to Belize City. Operation Best Fry Chicken in Belize. I’d found the best in Caye Caulker, the best in San Pedro and the best in Placencia…but not including the country’s biggest city was just lazy on my part. I asked for a list of names from readers and got tons. Li Chee, Kick Down Fence (One AND Two), Pratt’s and Friendship Restaurant.
I even heard TWO intriguing urban myths from a certain Tropic Air executive. One goes a little something like this: 10 to 15 years ago, a huge fried chicken fast food chain from Mexico came down to Belize to see about moving into the country. He had a certain taxi driver take him to the most popular spots in Belize City. After eating at the places mentioned above, the Mexican exec knew that they would have no success in Belize. Their professional services were not necessary. Belize City was already kicking butt with cheap and tasty fry chicken.
The second myth is that the ketchup is not sweet and thin because it is cheap. It is carefully doctored up with Orange Fanta. A secret and addicting recipe.
I went to Li Chee and you can see all the pictures including the ladies behind bars but here is the summary.
Li Chee Restaurant or as I will now call it “Lee Cheap” is…just that. Cheap. A huge load of bland chicken and limp fries for $5bzd. It is a favorite (in my mind) due to the huge size – and the fact that it stays open late late late. Everything tastes great after a few hours of drinking…
My next stop. Friendship Chicken just out on the Northern Highway across the street from the Traveller’s Rum shop and distillery.
Here are my conclusions.
Friendship actually has waitress service. Though my waitress had the demeanor of a North Korean prison camp guard, I still like having the food brought to the table on a real plate. I don’t mind having to work for it. Each time I asked for something, she sighed and rolled her eyes. It just makes me think that the food is going to be even better.
The portion size – $6bzd is the minimum – is smaller than Li Chee but about 15x better. The meat is flavorful and has a kick to it. They marinate the chicken in jalapeno or habanero and it gives good flavor.
The fries were crispy. Tasty. Edible.
The ketchup/sweet & sour sauce is DELICIOUS. And you want to pour extra all over your plate. It even made the raw cabbage salad taste better. It doubles as a French dressing of sorts.
Plus…are you really ready for the $12bzd fried t-bone steak? I didn’t think so.