David Chang's much-anticipated East Village fried chicken joint Fuku opened yesterday to lines and general melee. We braved the heat and the wait this morning to get a taste of the new sandwiches everyone's buzzing about.
Our journey begins on the corner of 10th Street and First Avenue...
11:31 AM - Line is about seven bodies deep, and slightly longer once we begin the queue. Folks are directed around the corner to avoid crowding in front of Tarallucci E Vino.
11:55 AM - After a scorching 25-minute wait in the 85-degree heat, we're finally inside. You can see the old Ko counter being repurposed as both a place to eat and part of the pass. Also this dude in the Pokemon shirt...
11:59 AM - Here's the menu in lights. There are cocktails! We witness cans of Tecate getting dipped in chile salt and topped with some kind of brown sauce (looked like BBQ, not Ssäm sauce). There's also a margarita, a daiquiri royale, a gin and tonic, vodka soda, whiskey ginger and a Michelada. Springsteen is blasting. Note: credit card only, no paper. Also no substitutions...and no seats. It took about 15 minutes to acquire four sandwiches, two fries and one salad. Then we headed back to the office around 12:15 PM.
12:30 PM - The spread: The habanero-marinated fried chicken thigh is purposely much bigger than the steamed Martin's potato roll, almost comically so. But overall the chicken sandwich held up very well to the 15 minutes of travel.
Here's a tight close-up of the Fuku salad. It's a mix of farro, black and white sesame seeds, shiso, Mandarin wedges, kale, red radish and Napa cabbage. There seemed to be a hint of cumin or something going on in the citrus dressing. The salad probably doesn't need the farro but the grain makes it a heartier option for vegetarians.
The wedge-style fries (sprinkled with Old Bay) did not travel well (most fries don't). Also ours were slightly undercooked.
Overall this is a mighty tasty fried chicken sandwich with superior crunch and just the right level of heat. The Fuku butter (secret ingredient: pickle brine) really accented the spicy meat perfectly. Some people might hate how small the bun is, but others might love it. As for the fries and the salad, don't bother: just go straight for the chicken.