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Chef-Squad Kicks Off Month-Long Series of Food Pop-Ups. First Up? Hot Chicken.

Fans of Vicki Freeman, Marc Meyer and their mini-restaurant empire of Cookshop, Hundred Acres, Rosie’s and Vic’s should take note: Beginning Sunday, five different pop-ups are being thrown up throughout the next month, inspired by squad travels with their chefs and even their own personal histories. The gallery space to the left of Vic’s on Great Jones Street will serve as pop-up central.

“I’ve always had this desire to do a pop-up because there are so many different things I’m interested in, that our chefs are interested in that I don’t know if they require a full-on restaurant,” says Freeman, as she mulls over the inspiration and challenges behind launching five baby restaurants. “Everything’s electric, there’s no gas, but it’s good because we have Vic’s right next door, so we can cook things there.”

First-up is #BlazingFeathers, the team’s ode to Nashville hot chicken joints Hattie B’s, Bolton’s and Prince’s. “We go a few times a year on these trips with our chefs,” explains Freeman. “They had just spent time in Nashville and New Orleans, and they just fell in love with it going from hot chicken place to hot chicken place.”

The same fondness for one of their own chef’s falafels inspired one of the remaining four pop-ups. “About a year ago, we hired Ayesha Nurdjaja to be the chef at Hundred Acres, which has turned much more middle eastern and mediterranean, as that’s her cuisine,” explains Freeman. “So when we wanted to do the pop-up thing, I asked her, because her falafel are to die for, ‘Would you be interested in doing falafel?’ And she said, ‘More than anything.’”

Sourcing for the menus came easy as they used the same farms as their restaurants, with the exception of the pita for the falafels. “Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery is making our pitas. I forced him into it. He probably had a moment after saying yes where he went, ‘oh crap,’” says Freeman, laughing, who has known Lahey for years. “We had a blast, as we just spent a day with him learning how to make pitas. It was fascinating, as it’s new for him too, and he just nailed these pitas.”

The wild card of the pop-ups also happens to be the only one that’s a full-on restaurant, complete with two seatings and reservations being made through Vic’s. Freeman and Meyer’s sister-in-law Maiko Freeman, who is also a caterer and the brains behind Smorgasburg vendor Oni Sauce, is tackling a 10-course Japanese home-style dinner alongside Andrew Corrigan, the chef from Cookshop, and Meyer himself, the “big daddy” of the whole operation. “I set her free with the menu,” says Freeman, without hesitation. “Every summer we go to Prince Edward Island, and for one dinner alone, we went to the docks, and they have mackerel. But they consider mackerel something that just gets caught with the other fish and they throw it away. So Maiko goes with a bag, which they fill with mackerel and just give it to her, we don’t pay anything. And she did like a 10-course mackerel dinner that just blew my mind.”

Pastrami Sandwich from Five & Dime pop-up
Pastrami Sandwich from Five & Dime pop-up

The final two pop-ups were inspired by the Jersey bakeries and New York City delis of the team’s individual childhoods. “Our pastry chef at Cookshop, Stephen Collucci, grew up in Jersey and just has this fondness for old bakeshops and coffee shops. It’s his favorite stuff to do,” says Freeman. “Hillary [Sterling, the chef from Vic’s] and Ayesha grew up in Brooklyn, and I grew up in the West Village. All our lives, we just went to delis like Katz’s, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do that, but a bit updated?’”

The decor for the different pop-ups will change for each, and the team looked within to cut costs. “It really is our chefs doing it,” says Freeman, as she talks about the sous chef at Cookshop, who is also a chalkboard artist. “One whole wall is chalkboard, and it has the menu, what the project is. She’s going to paint on the window for every project.”

“I did not do this to make money,” claims Freeman, after talking about the drudgery behind licensing and insuring the pop-up project. “If we can break even, I’m happy. Really, it was to give our chef’s a creative outlet. Every night, they are standing at a pass and making sure the food is coming out night after night and lunch after lunch. [This is a way] to have some fun and creativity, to break out of the mold—it’s a way to do something completely different, especially for the chefs.”

33 Great Jones Street
Between Lafayette & Bowery

Sunday, March 19th
#BlazingFeathers
12pm to 8pm

Thursday, March 23rd
Home-style Japanese Dinner
6pm and 8:30pm seatings
For reservations, call 212.253.5700

Sunday, April 2nd & Saturday, April 22nd
Five & Dime Deli
12pm to 8pm

Friday, April 7th
Ba-Da-Baked Bakery
5pm-10pm

Saturday, April 8th
Ayesha’s Falafel
12pm to 8pm

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How Dan Delaney Went From Texas BBQ to Opening a Southern-Fried Chicken Stand

Dan Delaney, a man who once put a smoker on the roof of his Brooklyn apartment so that he could sell brisket to an underground network of meat lovers, is not one to do things halfheartedly.

It all started back in April of this year, when Delaney told the Voice he had the opportunity to get into UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, the new food court just behind Grand Central Terminal. “Chicken. We’re doing fried chicken,” Delaney said, imagining the future. “If we do barbecue, we’ll have to bring it in. The kitchen is too small. But fried chicken we can make on site. We can do biscuits. We can do different sides. I really think it will work great!”

At the time, chill winds swept down Bedford Avenue, and customers huddled at the rustic tables inside Delaney BBQ, eating ribs like they were planning on hibernating.

“Here’s the thing,” Delaney said. “Everyone is doing dredged chicken — in seasoned flour, or with breadcrumbs. And that’s fine. That’s the classic way of doing it. But that’s not what I want to do. I want to do a Southern-style fried chicken. It’s going into a wet batter, so the texture is very different.”

Delaney reported that he got a fryer for his apartment and started experimenting: “I just do it over and over. My friends come over and eat all the chicken and I start again.” At a certain point, Delaney cracked it. “So first we brine the meat in a traditional brine — water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spice. Then we let it get really dry in the fridge. Next we toss it in seasoned flour, dip it in a buttermilk-based batter, and fry it. It’s light and flaky, with layers of batter — almost like a wafer.”

So with the chicken well on its way, the focus turned to the space. He was going for a different vibe from the barbecue, with “more of a Fifties soda fountain look to it, to show it’s a different business, because who knows where this could grow.”

And why not? This past spring, all signs were pointing to 2015 being The Year of the Fried-Chicken Sandwich, with Fuku, El Cortez, Root and Bone, Sweet Chick, Pies ’n’ Thighs, Burger and Barrel, and Birds & Bubbles bringing chickens for every taste and every Instagram. Chick-fil-A was headed to town. And then Danny Meyer debuted the Chicken Shack chicken sandwich, and people lost their minds up and down Fulton Street. It was the stuff of dreams — chicken-filled dreams.

When we checked in with Delaney at the beginning of June, three weeks away from the projected opening date, he was calm but not quite so confident. “I feel like we’re on track,” he’d said, “but there are so many things that are not under our control. We’re working on schedules and staffing. That’s a problem, because you can’t hire people before you’re ready to go — because you have to pay them. It’s hard to know when that should happen. If we’re opening one day late, that impacts us.”

The Delaney Chicken sandwich

June came and went. And no sign of an opening date.

But still there was progress: “We have now finally sourced the chicken!” the announcement went. It was no simple task, since organic free-range birds are less likely to be of uniform size, which is important for consistent cooking and browning. “We put the chicken on the menu at BrisketTown this week,” Delaney reported at the time. “Luckily, people seemed to like it. It’s great to have a dish that you totally stand behind! Would be good to get in the space, though…”

We checked in again in August: “Opening soon?”

“Ugh. Nope. Still waiting on gas,” came Delaney’s reply.

On August 14 a call came in — “We’re on for Wednesday! Gas and everything!”

A month in, a brief chicken shortage was resolved. “At first we didn’t know if we needed to make 70 or 700 sandwiches,” Delaney admits. “It took awhile to understand the ebbs and flows, but now we’ve pretty much got the hang of it. Now we’re refining the recipe. We love the chicken straight out of the fryer, but what’s the texture of the sandwich like if you carry it six blocks to your office? Is it still crispy? Does it get soggy?”

Now, at last, the sandwich has arrived: flaky, crisp batter coating a deep bite of chicken draped with butter pickles and pillowed on a soft burger bun. It’s simple and deeply satisfying, with all the Southern comfort you could want, evoking a This is a huge treat! fast-food feeling from childhood, but in a thoroughly adult context — well worth the wait.

The last time we talked to Delaney, he was lying down and eating a burger, which he said means he’s feeling extremely happy with his lot in life. “It’s exhausting, but things are going well. We’re ready to bring in new menu items — a salad, a different sandwich, even breakfast. And I’m looking at other potential venues. Basically, all exciting. It’s been a journey, but it’s been great!”

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Loosie’s Kitchen Brings Communal New Orleans Flavor to Williamsburg’s South Side

With the opening of Loosie’s Kitchen and Loosie Rouge (91 South 6th Street; no phone), co-owner Vincent Marino has injected the underside of the Williamsburg Bridge with a dose of New Orleans flair. But he decided a simple bar and restaurant based on the Big Easy wasn’t enough. “Yes, you can eat and you can drink, but you can also exchange ideas and get involved in artistic projects,” Marino told the Voice.

Marino set about creating a space where creativity can flourish any time of day, with food, music, cocktails, and décor all working together. Pushing through a blue picket gate, which acts as an entrance to the Cajun-flavored compound, guests are led down a walkway filled with lush foliage — it’s like a walk through Williamsburg’s version of the Garden District.

Bright murals painted in pink and yellow accentuate the elevated outdoor dining area, which is set with communal picnic tables for group dining. It seems conversing with strangers is encouraged (though you may wind up sitting in an elementary-school-size chair).

Seared octopus with grilled okra
Seared octopus with grilled okra

The interior has a Danish midcentury design, and includes a nod to the barbecue spot Fatty ‘Cue (the former tenant) — a chandelier in the shape of a pig. It’s a reminder that the kitchen is just steps away. “The design is not necessarily what you will see on the plate, but it fits extremely well together,” as Marino explained.

While a New Orleans theme is evident in most dishes, there’s also a focus on local ingredients, according to chef Paul Gioe. Several combinations, like octopus (not native to the Bayou), seared and served with grilled okra and fresno chile relish, and a pastrami carpaccio with celeriac remoulade, show an untraditional approach.

Fried chicken with homemade cornbread, hot sauce
Fried chicken with homemade cornbread, hot sauce

Additional main courses include fried Amish chicken thighs served with cornbread and homemade hot sauce, blackened catfish, and a shrimp po’boy. “It’s a Cajun, Southern, Creole-influenced menu more than anything,” Gioe said. “When you see catfish, when you see fried chicken, when you see okra, there shouldn’t be any doubt that you’re eating in a kitchen that’s Southern, and that’s the idea.”

Hurry-cane, anyone?
Hurry-cane, anyone?

The kitchen is currently serving dinner, with additional plans for lunch and brunch to debut in the coming months. Piano players make frequent appearances at the bar, Loosie Rouge, where wine, classic cocktails like the “Hurry-cane” and vieux carré, and a selection of beers (starting at $5) are available. Marino noted, “We’re trying to bring people together, and food and drink are a good excuse. Sometimes, we bring a brass band.”

A porky reminder of the former occupant
A porky reminder of the former occupant

 

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The Ten Best Fried-Chicken Sandwiches in New York, 2015

A great fried-chicken sandwich needs no diatribe. As long as the exterior’s crunchy, the meat juicy, and the condiments and bread balanced, the ingredients speak for themselves. And yet the recent launches of chicken sandwiches from two food world luminaries — David Chang and his standing-room-only chicken sandwich restaurant Fuku, and Danny Meyer’s introduction of the ChickenShack sandwich at Shake Shack — has momentarily turned us into poultry philosophers. No longer satisfied with pondering road crossings, we’ll debate the merits of buns, batters, and breadcrumbs and white versus dark meat. But in the end, as with so many things, what matters most is how it makes you feel inside, and thankfully there’s room for all styles, from buttermilk to spicy, honeyed, and even served cold. So spread those wings and fry, chicken sandwich lovers. Here’s where to find the best:

Craggy-crusted chicken from Wilma Jean
Craggy-crusted chicken from Wilma Jean

10. Wilma Jean (345 Smith Street, Brooklyn; 718-422-0444)
At Robert Newton and Kerry Diamond’s casual Southern restaurant hugging the edges of Carroll Gardens and Gowanus, the fried-chicken sandwich benefits from an ultra-simple composition and expert technique. Yes, that’s a standard potato bun, a single leaf of lettuce, and a slick of mayonnaise. But the stripped-down accoutrements allow Newton’s deeply browned chicken thighs — thickly coated in craggy crust — to make an impact. Great on its own, the kitchen kindly provides hot sauce and spicy vinegar for those who want a D.I.Y. hot-chicken experience.

The cold fried-chicken-filled sandwich at Boomwich
The cold fried-chicken-filled sandwich at Boomwich

9. Boomwich (311 Atlantic Avenue, 718-643-9229)
Pete Entner knows his way around quirky ingredient pairings. It’s how he made a name for himself at PeteZaaz, his semi-eponymous (and now defunct) Brooklyn pizzeria beloved for its mushroom-and-pickled-blueberry pie. At his newest project, a Boerum Hill sandwich shop, many of his experimental flavors prevail, including a wonderfully leftover-ish number featuring cold fried chicken. Entner packs chunks of breast meat into a pillowy pretzel roll layered with curried squash, fontina cheese, collard greens, and pickled chiles. It may not contain the steaming, shatteringly crisp bird we’ve come to know and love, but it’s a noteworthy chicken sandwich nonetheless and a great introduction to this chef’s fun approach to cooking.

The fried-chicken sandwich at Genuine Superette
The fried-chicken sandwich at Genuine Superette

8. Genuine Superette (191 Grand Street, 646-726-4633)
Design firm AvroKO’s follow-up to its Genuine Roadside restaurant inside glossy food(ie) hall Gotham West Market makes a mean battered birdwich, from its lengthy brining to the thick coating of buttermilk batter. Served on a toasted potato bun, the patty enjoys a tangle of tart apple-celeriac slaw and creamy sambal mayonnaise that adds a background of spice to each bite.

Blue Ribbon's fried-chicken sandwich topped with slices of pineapple
Blue Ribbon’s fried-chicken sandwich topped with slices of pineapple

7. Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken (28 First Avenue, 212-228-0404)
Late-night dining kingpins Bruce and Eric Bromberg already fry up some of our favorite fried chicken in the city, so it should be no surprise that the lengthy lineup of chicken sandwiches makes the cut here, too. Their success lies in crisp, juicy breast meat with a diverse array of sauces and toppings, from melted cheese to caramelized pineapple. The namesake sandwich arrives on a toasted wheat bun with shredded lettuce, tomato slices, and mayonnaise-based special sauce; there’s even a compelling play on Subway’s depressing chicken-bacon-ranch melt.

Harlem Shake's golden-brown breast
Harlem Shake’s golden-brown breast

6. Harlem Shake (100 West 124th Street, 212-222-8300)
At this retro, locally owned Harlem diner, the bird’s the word (yes, even more than the wonderful burgers). The kitchen takes buttermilk-brined chicken breasts and fries them an enviable shade of golden brown. Wedged into squishy potato buns, the crisp cutlets are squirted with ruddy, fiery jerk mayonnaise that drips down into a bed of spicy coleslaw and pickles. With a pervasive heat, the sandwich effortlessly combines Caribbean and soul food flavors. Order a side of spiced jerk fries (pictured) for maximum jerk.

One of Red Star's fried-chicken sandwiches — this one's topped with gochujang sauce, pickled daikon and dill, lettuce, and mayonnaise.
One of Red Star’s fried-chicken sandwiches — this one’s topped with gochujang sauce, pickled daikon and dill, lettuce, and mayonnaise.

5. Red Star Sandwich Shop (176 Smith Street, Brooklyn; 718-935-1999)
The brothers Ho (Gibson and Johnson, respectively) operate this Boerum Hill sandwich shop rooted in Asian-American flavors, where they serve a duo of knockout fried-chicken sandwiches. Both start with faultless buttermilk-brined thighs dusted in flour and fried twice, but differ in their sauces and toppings. One gets tossed in nutty sesame sauce and topped with pickled peppers, while the other gets a gochujang bath and pickled daikon. Served on soft rolls from nearby gem Caputo Bakery, it’s hard to choose between the two.

This puck-like fried chicken on the sandwich at Fritzl's Lunchbox in Bushwick comes with barbecue sauce.
This puck-like fried chicken on the sandwich at Fritzl’s Lunchbox in Bushwick comes with barbecue sauce.

4. Fritzl’s Lunch Box (173 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn; 929-210-9531)
Chef Dan Ross-Leutwyler coaxes incredible nuance out of familiar flavors at his bright and airy Bushwick restaurant with a New American focus. Already serving a lauded burger, Ross-Leutwyler’s no less precise in his chicken sandwich design: plush sesame seed bun, lettuce, mayonnaise, and a pristine fried puck of breaded organic chicken — basically a giant nugget, coarsely chopped to mimic the processed fast food that it apes (and surpasses). Like so much of the food at Fritzl’s, the final product’s seeming simplicity is deceptive.

Cheeky chicken and biscuits
Cheeky chicken and biscuits

3. Cheeky Sandwiches (35 Orchard Street, 646-504-8132)
At this minuscule paean to po’boys and other Southern-style sandwiches, owner Din Yates makes a formidable fried-chicken biscuit sandwich. Born and raised in New Orleans, the restaurateur and Ford model bakes a seriously dense quick bread that’s lusciously caky enough to hold together while eating. Yates stacks his griddled biscuits with a layer of tangy coleslaw, which serves as the bed for crunchy chicken and creamy sawmill gravy. It’s a champion of the form.

2. Fuku (163 First Avenue, no phone)
David Chang’s latest fast-casual concept sings the sweet gospel of spicy fried birds. But despite a setup that at times feels like a social experiment — with lengthy waits, no seats, and a no-cash policy — the signature sandwich is a peppery pot of gold at the end of a deep-fried rainbow. Tucked into buttered potato rolls and spicy from habanero brine, Fuku’s beastly chicken thighs eclipse their buns. Topped with pickles, they’re best enjoyed with the bar’s micheladas, spiked with gochujang-style Ssäm sauce (also available to squirt onto your sandwich).

The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop's hot chicken sandwich
The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop’s hot chicken sandwich

1. Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (495 Lorimer Street, 718-302-4665)
Sibling to mega-popular Brooklyn butchers the Meat Hook, this tiny Williamsburg sandwich shop attracts a steady stream of customers with its unrestrained combinations. The hot chicken sandwich pays tribute to Nashville’s tongue-searing delicacy of the same name, with bird meat that practically squawks back at you thanks to its chile-sauce-brined thigh meat and a slather of peppery schmaltz. Coleslaw and pickled vegetables cut through all the richness and heat, topping a cutlet that dwarfs its soft wheat roll.

Go on your own fried chicken tour:

 

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Could This Be the Biggest Fried-Chicken Sandwich Ever?

The fried-chicken sandwich may be enjoying a renaissance in 2015 — the Fuku phenomenon is the latest example — but Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken (28 East 1st Street; 212-228-0404) in the East Village has decided to go medieval with its recently released Smorgasbird. The jaw-unhinging, double-decked creation is stuffed with every side dish you can think of — and a few more you can’t. Although simply fitting the sandwich in your mouthhole is impressive enough, if you can manage to defy physics and finish the thing in under five minutes, you’ll be entered to win a heaping platter of even more food. Either way, just by ordering the Smorgasbird, you’re helping to raise money and awareness to fight multiple sclerosis — 20 percent of all sales goes to the National MS Society (the sandwich is available until the end of July).

The demented brainchild of Blue Ribbon owners Bruce and Eric Bromberg, the Smorgasbird is built upon two fried-chicken cutlets. Then, in between heavy-duty brioche buns, goes smoked bacon, melted cheddar, sour cream, pickled peppers, french fries, BBQ chicken, and Blue Ribbon Special Sauce. Lastly, there’s grilled pineapple, lettuce, and tomato, for your health.

Speaking of health, Bruce Bromberg told the Voice why taking on multiple sclerosis is such a personal and vital mission for him and his restaurant. “Blue Ribbon has been riding as a team for Bike MS for the last six years and counting,” he said. “We started riding to support a dear friend diagnosed with the disease and have continued riding together to raise funds for this important cause. Adding a charitable component to the Smorgasbird sandwich seemed like a natural extension of our dedication to the MS Society.”

If you’re going to be a glutton, you might as well be a glutton for charity. And given its exhaustive list of ingredients, the Smorgasbird is something of a value at $15; it’s certainly enough food to satisfy two grown adult appetites at lunchtime. But if you insist on channeling your inner Joey Chestnut, tackling the five-minute challenge could net you your own Hail Mary Platter — 25 whole wings, 25 chicken tenders, and your choice of side, valued at over $200. That’s a lot of chicken, and a lot of change. Altruism, however, is priceless.

Follow Brad Japhe on Twitter and all your wildest dreams will come true — provided your dreams involve stories about craft beer, booze, and fried chicken. 

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Get in Line for an Emotional Roller Coaster Ride at Fuku, All for a Chicken Sandwich

Last week the city’s food-loving, trend-devouring masses lost their collective minds when Momofuku debuted its fast-casual fried-chicken sandwich concept. In development for months, Fuku (163 First Avenue, no phone) transforms the tiny space that launched chef-mogul David Chang’s empire — first as the original Momofuku Noodle Bar and later as punk-rock tasting counter Momofuku Ko (now in snazzier digs on Extra Place) — into a standing-room-only joint banking on hot bird and fun-sloppy cocktails, like a michelada served in a Tecate can, the aluminum top slathered in proprietary Momofuku-brand Ssäm Sauce™ and rimmed with spiced salt.

Fuku's michelada, served in a Tecate can whose top is slathered with Momofuku's proprietary Ssäm Sauce™
Fuku’s michelada, served in a Tecate can whose top is slathered with Momofuku’s proprietary Ssäm Sauce™

In the seven days since Fuku threw open its doors and started a veritable mother-clucking chicken orgy, the accompanying social-media hype has been intense and heated, much like the flattened thighs the kitchen dunks in the fryer. Videos, photos, and live-blogs galore were broadcast on launch day, followed by PSAs announcing the shop’s two-day hiatus this past Monday, and its reopening two days later. An off-menu sandwich made headlines on day two. Utter the words “Koreano” and boom: You’ve got pickled daikon radish betwixt your buns instead of the pickled cucumbers that are standard. The “secret” swap bumps the price of the $8 sandwich a buck — a small price to pay to feel special, provided you’re the kind of person who pegs your worth to your knowledge of secret menu items.

And so now we are contemplating and scrutinizing a chicken sandwich, just as we did with ramen burgers and Cronuts, sushirritos and pizza cones. The only consolation is that this madness may eventually die down, leaving a functional, convenient restaurant that offers a well-executed, concise, and accessible menu.

The scene inside Fuku
The scene inside Fuku

For now there are lines of people down the block from open till close, managed by the friendly staff members as if they were shepherding a hungry flock. They take head counts in the name of comfort and safe occupancy, yet usher customers to a room that still feels plenty cramped at max capacity, even more so once you’re wedged into a counter space. It’s better than letting customers line up right at the door, but once inside there’s another, smaller line to stand in to place your order.

On my initial visit, I waited twenty minutes before stepping inside and another twenty between ordering and service. Eating without sitting isn’t the worst way to dine, but you’re certainly less likely to linger when you’ve been standing for an hour only halfway into a meal — even if it is a remarkable fried-chicken sandwich.

On the line, buttering buns
On the line, buttering buns

“Hot chicken!” a cook yells to chef Tony Kim as he lifts a basket of thighs from bubbling oil. Camera flashes light up the kitchen area while Kim fields questions from curious patrons. Down the line, someone’s buttering soft, wrinkled Martin’s potato rolls with “Fuku butter,” a condiment whose recipe remains a secret. If you can’t taste the butter, you might be too Fuku’d-up from the chicken’s tickling-hot habanero brine, the heat from which seems to fluctuate from batch to batch.

Patient poultry fiends wait for their chance to set foot inside.
Patient poultry fiends wait for their chance to set foot inside.

Make no mistake: This is a great sandwich, with fatty thigh meat crisped to an audible crunch and at the same time possessing enviable juiciness. The habanero heat from the brine is pungent and upfront but quickly dissipates. While sharing some creative DNA with Chick-fil-A’s signature snack, this sandwich is a loftier version. Most of the patty spills from the crumpled bun, the better to squirt the bird with Korean gochujang-style Ssam sauce or Heinz ketchup for bites of pure poultry. Try them separately or together, if you’re feeling devilish. Wedge-cut fries, the only spud style on offer, were unavailable on this inaugural trip.

Fuku's farro salad
Fuku’s farro salad

Pre-assembled farro salads with kale, cabbage, and mandarin oranges are available as a side, which helps cool any lingering heat. By design, their consumption would seem to necessitate a tabletop, but at Fuku folks eat their food, snap their photos — and leave.

Fuku’s cocktails, from company bar director John deBary, deliver assertive spice and citrus and are worth sipping slowly, enjoyable as foils for the spicy chicken sandwich. And at least you can drink while you wait. I’ll retroactively raise my bright, zippy daiquiri to the unlucky stragglers left behind, like so many characters in an evangelical ascension story. They line the walls, numbered flags in hand, some waiting to leave, some eyeing the room for parties to finish up so that they can hover around a flat space upon which to put their metal trays.

It’s natural that people would be curious about a new David Chang project, but at the moment visiting Fuku feels like diving headfirst into a food-frenzy meat grinder, a harried thrill ride where the euphoria lasts as long as some Six Flags attractions. The restaurant’s operating hours — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday — also make eating there a pain unless you work nearby during the week. Otherwise you’re forced to make a line-waiting weekend pilgrimage.

If tasting menus are like operas and food has become synonymous with performance, Fuku may well herald an age of restaurant as emotional roller coaster.

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This Weekend’s Five Best Food and Drink Events in NYC – 4/3/2015

Mix up your holiday weekend with decidedly non-holiday-related events. Here are the five best food and drink events happening in NYC.

Cockpockalypse 2015, BrisketTown, 359 Bedford Avenue, Saturday and Sunday

As a follow-up to his pay-in-advance brisket parties, pitmaster Daniel Delaney is offering fans the chance to pre-order baskets of fried chicken for pickup in late April. The chicken won’t be accessible on the regular menu and is available only for pickup in store. Those seeking a taste of what Delaney can do with a bird as opposed to beef can access the offer via the restaurant’s website; use “buttermilk” for password entry.

New Brunch, Cafe Clover, 10 Downing Street, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.

David Standridge is debuting brunch this weekend at Cafe Clover, with a focus on healthy eats and fresh pressed juices. The menu includes an heirloom grain bowl, soft-baked eggs, and a beet-and-mushroom veggie burger.

Yooeating?! “After School Special” Bunsik Pop-Up, Passenger Bar, 229 Roebling Street, Brooklyn, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Head to this party to try an assortment of Korean after-school treats, like grilled rice cake logs and tuna-stuffed seaweed rolls. The bar will be offering an assortment of food (cash only). The event is free, but you should RSVP in advance.

Broadway Beat, Ace Hotel, 20 West 29th Street, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Beginning Easter Sunday and continuing every Sunday from April through June, guests can enjoy free jazz with their brunch from the Breslin Bar & Dining Room. The brunch menu includes cheddar beignets, deviled eggs, and smoked salmon; your group can wash breakfast down with large-format punches.

Bean to Bar Chocolate, Raaka Chocolate, 64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 2 p.m.

Instead of just eating chocolate this weekend, learn how to make some using raw cacao from around the world. After a factory tour, guests can load stone grinders with raw ingredients and pour their own ingredients into molds. The event includes chocolate to take home. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through Raaka’s website.

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This Weekend’s Five Best Food and Drink Events in NYC – 3/20/2015

Don’t let the snow get you down. Spring is finally here, at least from an official calendar perspective. Here are five ways to celebrate.

Late Night Secret Fried Chicken, Corner Social, 321 Lenox Avenue, Friday and Saturday, midnight

You can’t go to bed on an empty stomach, so head here for a midnight snack. Debuting this Saturday (very early) morning, guests can enjoy an off-the-menu whole fried chicken for $30. Chickens will be dispensed to the fryer on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are only twelve birds available each night.

The Coffee and Tea Festival, Brooklyn Expo Center, 79 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.

Whether you fancy afternoon tea or a morning cup of joe, this two-day festival shines a spotlight on both caffeinated beverages with lectures, tastings, and plenty of liquids. Local participants include Cafe Grumpy and David’s Tea. General admission tickets start at $25 and can be secured through the festival website.

The Lockhart Link Burger, Shake Shack, 600 Third Avenue, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.

Sample a burger you’ll probably never have again (unless you visit Austin) when you check out Shake Shack’s new Lockhart Link Burger. Available only at the Midtown East location, Danny Meyer’s latest creation features jalapeño and cheese-stuffed sausage, a Texas Hill Country specialty, atop a classic Shack cheeseburger. The specialty menu item is available in New York until March 25.

Celebrate Martha Stewart’s new cookbook Clean Slate!, Macy’s, 151 West 34th Street, Sunday, noon

Martha Stewart will sign copies of her latest book, which focuses on detoxing and healthy eating habits, and lays out how to stock our refrigerators and cupboards with the right stuff. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests are required to complete a free reservation in advance.

Presentation Party Night, Livestream Public, 195 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, Sunday, 7 p.m.

Want to hear about the secrets of intuitive eating? How about the history of Greenpoint’s fragrant waterway known as Newtown Creek? This event features presentations on these topics plus more, and free beer from Brooklyn Brewery will help relax the crowd (and perhaps encourage audience participation). Food will not be provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own — or order pizza — and share with others.

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Bars FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

NYC Beer Week Hits the Home Stretch

The seventh annual NYC Beer Week is heading to the finish line, but it promises to go out with a boisterous bang. The final weekend is punctuated with several standout bashes, tap takeovers, local drink specials, even a whole lamb roast. Here’s a few to hit in the home stretch.

Clinton Hall (90 Washington Street; 212-363-6000) in Lower Manhattan hosts Huge Beer Night starting at seven this evening. The event welcomes Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, offering no fewer than seventeen taps from the San Francisco–based brewery. Diverse styles range from barrel-aged barleywine to a Belgian-inspired white IPA. They’ll also be pouring from an exclusive firkin (a cask used to condition small-batch beer). The lucky recipient of the final pour enjoys a comped beer tab for the night. Beer and a small selection of pub grub is priced à la carte.

Head to Fool’s Gold (145 East Houston Street; 212- 673-2337) in the East Village on Saturday to enjoy their Cask Fest, which promises more than a dozen exclusive rarities, low in carbonation and served at a slightly higher temperature, in the English tradition. The selections, including local producers like Sixpoint, will be available throughout the weekend — or until they run out.

Sunday funday is all about Brooklyn, with competing events bringing the ruckus to two separate corners of Kings County. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-963-3369) is the setting of the Closing Beer & Brass Brunch, the official conclusion of NYC Beer Week. $40 tickets still remain to the four-hour festival, complete with a Blue Ribbon buffet and an hour of live brass music. The exclusively NYC-centric tap list features the best of the old guard (Brooklyn Brewery) and the new (Other Half Brewing).

Not to be outdone, Threes Brewing (333 Douglass Street, Brooklyn; 718-522-2110) in Gowanus celebrates the release of its newest IPA, Superf*ckingyawn, with a whole lamb roast, beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to the beer of the hour, the brewery offers a lineup of two dozen crafts on tap, a full bar and cocktail menu, and live bluegrass from the Tumble. Food is priced à la carte and is first-come, first-served, but a $50 pre-order ticket ensures food and two pints of the IPA.

Parting is such bittersweet sorrow. But as New York City Beer Week bids adieu, at least it won’t leave you on an empty stomach.

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Datebook Events FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

What’s Happening This Weekend: K2 Lounge, Mystery IPA Contest, Beer and Cassoulet, Fried Chicken Feast

It’s almost the weekend, and if you’ve been stuck inside around a space heater all week, it’s time to get out — warm winter foods are in season, and plenty of dark drinks will brighten your day. Here are a few enticing activities to lure you out of the house.

K2 Lounge, Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street, 6 p.m.

Friday nights transform this museum cafe into a Pan-Asian lounge with solid happy hour specials and a guest DJ, who goes on at 7 p.m. Drink up and then enjoy thematic tours and films: This Friday (and every second Friday of the month), museum guides join professional storytellers from Talkingstick Collective to discuss Himalayan art — a topic we imagine is exceptionally fascinating after a highball or two.

Mystery IPA Contest, Mugs Alehouse, 125 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, Saturday, noon

Think you have what it takes to dominate a blind tasting? Or perhaps you just really like IPAs? For $30 you can achieve both and choose which brewery will have their IPA featured at the bar for six months. Attendees will sample 12 American-style IPAs — in four-ounce pours — with unlimited access to each contestant. Once you vote, you’re able to grab a free take-home pint glass of the beer you selected — and continue filling up as much as you like until 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the bar’s event ticketing website.

Beer & Cassoulet, Jimmy’s No. 43, 43 East Seventh Street, Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m.

The famous French stew known as cassoulet makes its return to this East Village underground beer temple, where $45 gets you a laundry list of beer pairings along with three cassoulet dishes. Beers range from farmhouse-style ales to a lager brewed with nougat, with nine beers to sample in total. On Sunday, the bar will host its annual cassoulet cook-off, where amateur and professional chefs will compete to be crowned champion. For $30, attendees can sample 10 different style of cassoulets and receive one free drink. Tickets for both weekend events can be purchased through the bar’s website.

Fried Chicken Feast, The Breslin, 16 West 29th Street, Sunday, 5:30 p.m.

It’s stuff-your-face-then-hibernate season, and no better place to do it this weekend than at the Breslin. This $50 feast includes duck-fat-fried chicken with habanero and gorgonzola sauces, biscuits, and slaw plus other sides and a strawberry rhubarb pie with buttermilk ice cream. Reservations are accepted for parties of five to 12 guests and can be made by emailing chefs.table@thebreslin.com.