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Monday, November 2, 2009

Pop Review: Mission Burger's New Fried Chicken Sandwich

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 10:20 AM

click to enlarge The fried chicken sandwich: At some point, this was flapping around. - A W./YELP
  • a w./Yelp
  • The fried chicken sandwich: At some point, this was flapping around.
As we learned last week, Mission Burger at Duc Loi Supermarket (2200 Mission at 18th St.) has swapped a fried chicken sandwich ($8) for its vegan burger -- a deservedly well-loved delectable a good many non-vegans are sad to see depart. Unfortunately, between the time-consuming process by which the crunchy patties were crafted, and the ire of a solitary vegan over a single and exceedingly minor case of fishy cross-contamination, the burger dudes seem happy to send that light, crunchy puck of kale and mushrooms drifting off into the sunset. We stopped by on Saturday to appraise the replacement.

A few ladies were tearing into saucy-looking specimens when we arrived, bellowing wordless incantations of glee between bites. Nominal vegetarians, they were also grilling the cook with regard to the old meatless standby's premature extinction. He relinquished no ground, describing the whole vegan burger endeavor as "too prohibitive" for the work he and his comrades were doing, and suggesting cheerfully that mourners should "get over it."

A perfect response, we thought, as we packed away a foil-wrapped parcel to haul home. We remembered something a good friend -- incidentally, also a good cook -- said a long time ago, back when our vegetarianism was in the grips of a death knell, a once-firm consumption-shaped identity fizzling fainter and fainter with each carnivorous undertaking. We were still wary of pork then, hesitant to throw down for ribs to cook at a backyard barbecue. "Don't get chicken!" he'd exclaimed as we'd walked towards the store, flabbergasted we were even entertaining the idea. "Chicken's a vegetable!"

We'd understood he meant chicken was too mundane, dainty, and safe an option for the heavy-duty 'cue he had planned, not literally that somewhere along the way he'd been convinced barnyard fowl sprouted from the ground like plumed plants. All the same, we thought fondly of his outburst as we settled into a comfortable chair back at the homestead for an introductory nibble.

Five bites later, we learned the truth: Chicken is not a vegetable. Perhap a boneless, skinless breast, poached and carved into slender bits to scatter amongst a "heart-healthy" green salad, might half pass the test, but a brined, brown-crusted, fried hunk of bird topped with pickled garlic and peppers, a mound of shredded lettuce, some sort of mayo-centric "secret" sauce, and a salty wafer of chicken skin, all stuffed into the ample semi-hollowed center of an Acme bun, could not be confused for anything other than something that once flapped rather preposterously. A mealy, one-dimensional TenderCrisp, this is not.

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Andrew Simmons

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