Wendill’s was founded in 1929, back when the San Fernando valley was countryside rather than suburbs. At the time, it touted “the best fried chicken in the West.” In 1984, the nearly forgotten chicken house was bought by Thai restaurateurs, who added a menu of classic Thai dishes. But they kept the original fried chicken.
This fried chicken is old-timey roadhouse stuff. It’s fried to order (expect a half-hour wait, plus ten minutes for the white-hot white meat to cool) and it comes with a thick peppery breading. Sauces on the side include a sticky sweet syrup, dark soy, and Hoy Fong Sriarcha. This succulent chicken doesn’t really need sauce, but if you’re so inclined, we recommend mixing all three to form a sweet, salty, spicy glaze.
The fried chicken is available as a half or whole chicken with a side of mediocre fries. If you don’t want that much bird, it is possible to order just three “jumbo wings.” They are extra crisp and take well to that mysterious, transparent tabletop syrup. It’s like Asian chicken/Waffle House fusion.
The main signs for the restaurant and many of the dishes on the menu are translated into Spanish. (The only beer available when we visited was Corona.) The second language is a sign of the large Latino population of the area and of the restaurant’s enduring popularity with that community.
Tiny shrimp rolls in wonton wrappers are the most popular appetizer, known by most as taquitos de cameron. They come in orders of five, but large tables get a couple dozen. Inside each two-bite roll is a chunk of shrimp and a chunk of ground pork. That’s it. The experience of eating these is something like eating a basket of fryer-fresh chips, if chips were stuffed with meat and fish.
The old place has the stripped down feel of a restaurant in Thailand, missing only pictures of Thai monarchs. All of the Thai standards are available: Pad Thai is fairly sweet and saucy, suited to an American palate. For those craving the flavors of Southeast Asia, this isn’t a place to get anything too complicated or spicy, but it does the trick for a tasty, filling bowl of noodles. We recommend focusing your meal on fried chicken and shrimp rolls.