The Fuku introduction occurred about two weeks after the honey-smeared sandwich arrived at three Brooklyn Shake Shacks. Coincidence? Probably not, since the Chang sandwich seems to consciously address several criticisms of the new Shake Shack sandwich; specifically, that the Salt and Pepper Honey Chick’n was too cloyingly sweet and needed some sort of vegetable product added to the sandwich, which, apart from the spongy bun and honey sauce, is entirely without toppings. (The original Shake Shack chicken sandwich, still available, sports shredded iceberg and pickle chips.)
Well, as if in response, the Sweet and Spicy Fuku also has pickle chips. These serve to cut the sweetness of the poultry glaze. While the honey glaze on the Shake Shack sandwich is simple (in a good way), the flavor of the Fuku glaze is more complicated and the glaze itself thicker. According to a recent piece in First We Feast, the Changian glaze contains soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, mirin, and Korean chile sauce. It doesn’t really taste that complicated, though the sauce is thick like raw sorghum. You could pour it on pancakes.
Well, the Fuku sandwich is better than Shake Shack’s, but mainly because of the composition of the chicken patty and its size. The Shake Shack patty is boring white meat, which the public seems to prefer if McDonald’s ads are to be believed. What is this American mania for skinless white chicken breast with the consistency of marshmallows? The patty at Fuku, by contrast, is supremely flavorful dark thigh meat, preferable to breast in every possible way, including a slightly gnarly composition that leaves Chang’s patty sinewy and almost rubbery — in a good way. Alas, neither the Fuku nor the Shake Shack sandwich is big enough to constitute an entire meal. Please make them a little bigger, guys, and keep the price at the same level!