We were really excited when we showed up at Fuku+ for dinner. We had been wanting to go ever since we heard they opened, since it was much closer to home and we still hadn't made it down to the East Village to wait in line for the original Fuku. It sounded like this one had everything the original did, and then even more good stuff, like the Fuku fingers collaboration with Mission Chinese. We were pretty sure we were going to love everything we had after all the rave reviews we'd read about everything Fuku, so we settled in to our place at the standing bar (only spots left) and excitedly put in our order.
Although there were 3 main things we wanted to try, we hadn't left Urbanspace Vanderbilt that long before our visit, so we had to drop the Sichuan pork flatbread from our order as there just wasn't enough stomach space. The 2 things we did get were the Mini Me, a smaller version of the original Fuku chicken sandwich, and the Fuku fingers collaboration, since that was a limited time only item. (Sorry for the dark photos, there's no natural and/or bright light in there.)
The Mini Me was a huge reason we came to Fuku and why we had wanted to go for so long. Reading everything people had to say about the original sandwich downtown, we were sure it had to be good. People raved about it. They called it a life-changing chicken sandwich, the best one ever, best in the city, best everything. We cut it in half (forgot the cross-section photo in our haste to dig in, sorry), and then took our first bite of what would surely be the greatest chicken sandwich to ever hit our tongues.
But it wasn't. Neither of us shared what we thought about the sandwich until we had finished the whole thing, but when we were done, we both had the same reaction, basically, "Huh?" All that hype, all those raves, for that? It was a small fried chicken thigh with a crispy outside, 2 pickles, and a very soft bun. It was supposed to be a spicy chicken sandwich (Eater said it was the "product of a habanero buttermilk brine"), but there was absolutely zero spice to it. The crunch was nice, but that's not really the main/sole component we look at to judge a chicken sandwich. The chicken tasted so much better with the addition of the ssam sauce sitting on the counter, but it didn't have much depth on its own, none of this amazing spiciness that everyone else claimed to taste.
It's been incredibly confusing to us, like we're living in some bizarre food world, where everyone else is raving about the Mini Me like it's the best chicken sandwich on the face of the planet but our feelings about it are pretty much a "meh" or a shrug. It was fine, but not as special as we thought it would be. Would we like the original Fuku sandwich better? Did we come on an off day? Were our expectations just too high? Was it just our sandwich that wasn't as good as the rest? Did someone else order a non-spicy sandwich and they gave it to us by mistake? As we wondered this in the days after our visit, Eater did an entire chicken sandwich crawl and named it the top sandwich of the day, proclaiming it even better than the one at the original Fuku, so who knows whether or not we'd like the original Fuku one if they're right. We're honestly just so baffled by all the raving based on our experience eating it. The Delaney Chicken sandwich we had earlier that day was so much better.
After we finished off our sandwich, it was time to move on to the Fuku fingers, the collaboration with Mission Chinese which donates a dollar from each order to charity. The fingers, composed of white meat chicken, were seasoned with MCF's Chongqing spice blend, a combination which seemed to be dominated by Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, and some sugar. There was no doubt in our minds that this would be spicy, as the order was basically a bowl full of chiles (mixed with some scallions) cushioning 6 decently sized chicken fingers.
Damn, they were not playing around with the heat here, and it was fabulous. The flavors were great. It wasn't just heat, but there was a lot of depth to the spice. It was much hotter than we expected and our lips were tingling, but it was worth it. The quality of the chicken was good, and overall, we just really liked these. They were so much better than the sandwich in our opinion. We ate the Fuku fingers second so it wasn't like our taste buds were on fire and we just didn't notice the spice or flavors of the sandwich. We deliberately saved the Fuku fingers for last because we knew the Sichuan peppercorns would mess with our tongues.
If you can tolerate spice, the Fuku fingers would definitely make a visit to Fuku+ worth it, since it's the only place you can get them. Despite all the raves, we just can't say the same thing about the Mini Me. Maybe somewhere down the line we'll try the sandwich again either here or at the original Fuku, but for now, we'll stick to some of our other favorite chicken sandwiches (like the fabulous Bobwhite).