Thursday, September 13, 2007

Angus Among Us

I spent 5th through 7th grade without a refrigerator because my parents needed it at the restaurant. During those years, my father's last name was McDonald, my stepsister was Wendy (R.I.P. Dave Thomas), and we were all best friends with Colonel Sanders. Such were the formative adolescent years. Take out was my norm. But instead of burning out on fast food, I grew to love it, and even now at the risk of a sour stomach, I'll stuff my face with it. I look forward to new and exciting sandwich offerings whenever they happen to show up on TV, and as soon as they're available, I'm on the "Order Here" line.

McDonald's latest offering, the Third Pound Angus Burger, has been on my mind for a couple weeks now. Initially, I told myself I didn't need it, that it was going to be terrible, but the commercials broke my will, and finally after bringing lunch for ten consecutive days, I made my way to the closest of the three McDonald's by my office.

No photo documentation, but needless to say, it looks nothing like the commercial. I'm fine with this. I have a very thick skin when it comes to the variation between the ads and the actual. It is rather large as the commercials suggest, but that's the problem. For some reason, the larger sandwich size made for a dry burger. I kept having to drink soda to wash it down, and I was out of Diet Coke before I was even halfway through. Fighting my way through the other half, I made the following mental notes:

1) Angus Shmangus. I think the only way they could call this Angus beef is if the cows they got it from were all named Angus. Even if it was Angus, it tasted exactly like the Quarter Pounder, only more dry. Why is this any better than the rest of the McDonald's sandwiches?

2) I ordered the Deluxe model and got the Bacon and Cheese. Not a bad trade, but premade fast food bacon has the consistency and color of cinnamon bubble gum. I was also disappointed because I was curious to see if there was any improvement on the McDonald's produce since the McDLT.

3) Why am I eating this? Oh yeah, marketing.

4) If only for the french fries, this is totally worth the 8,000 calories I'm consuming.

All in all, a typical value meal from the alleged front runner of the fast food game. Nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible, save for my sour stomach. I challenge anyone to top the Wendy's Monterey Ranch Chicken Sandwich, my personal favorite.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Better Late Than Never

Photo stolen from Rozanne Gold

I believe there was a craze for Korean fried chicken last winter. Chalk it up to laziness or lack of curiosity, but either way, I missed it, and I hadn't thought about it until a recent surfing excursion to Long Beach gave me an excuse to drive through Queens. After a day of failed attempts at hanging ten, Queens native DG and myself figured the best way to cure our "we suck at surfing" blues was a bucket of fried chicken. DG's a whiz at navigating the streets of Queens, so we decided to see how the Koreans stacked up against the Colonel.

I'm a big fan of seeing what I'm about to eat scroll across an LCD monitor. A picture's worth a thousand bites. For whatever reason, I had assumed that the fried chicken was going to be in buffalo wing form, tiny little drumsticks and all, but to my surprise, it was actually big parts and pieces of our poultry pal, just like the Colonel, and the pictures only made me hungrier. Instead of a breaded mess, the chicken has more of a glazed appearance, and when it arrived at our table, it looked like the picture (This is a rarity. See previous Angus post). In addition to the chicken, we ordered a side of cheese sticks, and while delicious, it was definitely nothing new and exotic. Think Applebee's or Friday's. The chicken was another story.

We opened the steaming boxes, one order of original, and one order of spicy, and the conversation ceased. Imagine the scene in Gremlins when Gizmo's spawn gets hold of the fried chicken. I guess it didn't matter what it looked like after all. The masses were correct. Korean fried chicken is addictive. The ginger and soy and spice gave way to a barely audible but extremely satisfying crunch. The meat itself was brined to perfection. If the zipcar wasn't due back at 7, we would have stayed for another round. But is it any different than its domestic counterpart? Honestly, fried chicken in any language is great. Fried anything is great, but there's something about a clucker breaded and cooked in 350 degree oil. I give the edge to KyoChon this time, but in great part to its novelty. The next time you're in a zipcar rolling around Queens, it's definitely worth a stop. Just make sure you have plenty of time to order a second box of chicken. Buen provecho.

KyoChon Chicken
156-50 Northern Blvd
Flushing, NY, 11354
Me and DG, one beer: $35