When it comes to fried chicken sandwiches, we’re easy to please. The combination of fat, salt, and spice makes any version at least some degree of delicious. Even still, it’s rare we try a fried chicken sandwich that results in long-lasting sensory memories, causing us to later drift off during an HR slideshow presentation in a haze of twice-fried, chili-dusted chicken.
That’s the story of Chick Chick, a casual Korean restaurant on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 90th Street that serves an exceptional Nashville Hot Chickwich. And if you live on the Upper West Side, it might just be the most exciting place for a quick dinner on a Wednesday night.
Like an extrovert stuck in a crowded elevator, the bird at hand dominates the entire experience here. There’s even a chalkboard sign outside of Chick Chick’s bright purple outdoor dining structure that reads “All About Chicken.” Aside from its chicken common denominator, the menu ranges in influence. You’ll see ramen bowls topped with chicken tenders, Korean gochujang-drenched wings, and Southern-style hot chicken, all priced between $12-$22.
If you’re here for one thing, make it the aforementioned hot chicken sandwich. With a blizzard of cayenne and paprika, and a twice-fried, flaky exterior, it’s a perfect union of Nashville flavor and Korean fried chicken texture. Surprisingly, Chick Chick’s sandwich brings a lot less suffering heat than the name might suggest - the taste is more savory than it is fiery. What hooks us, instead, is the balance of crispy dredge, a cooling buttermilk sauce, juicy thigh meat, and cold, perfect pickles.
Chick Chick’s sandwiches might anchor the menu, but plenty of dishes are worth ordering. From an unexpectedly light kale caesar salad to sticky soy-pepper wings, and garlicky-sour kimchi fried rice with chicken sausage and rich egg yolk, we recommend exploring chicken in all its forms here. Especially because their casual setting - which looks like a fast-casual restaurant but offers table service - makes it easy to stop by on a random Wednesday to pick up chicken tenders for your kids, or for a quick sit-down meal with a friend that will cost you around $20.
Great uptown restaurants aren’t always synonymous with “casual” or “chicken revolution.” And that’s what makes Chick Chick especially worth knowing about. So if you spent time in the area (and eat meat), bump this spot to the top of your list of fantastic places to improve a random weeknight.
A sandwich is only as good as its architecture. In this case, Chick Chick dredges a juicy thigh and fries it twice, then tops the whole thing with a ton of cayenne and paprika. On the bottom, you’ll find cold butter lettuce, and thick, slightly sweet pickles, all with a cooling white sauce - made with mustard, mayo, buttermilk, and black pepper - seeping down the side. The result is crackly, hot, and balanced.
We love eating food that reminds us of how spicy black pepper can be. Chick Chick’s fried wings come in your choice of sauces (including soy garlic and Korean sweet gochujang), but their soy pepper wings are especially impressive, since you can actually taste the chicken meat instead of fried batter. The sweet sticky sauce clings to the crispy exterior like they’re at a party where they don’t know anyone else.
Sure, Chick Chick has iPads, chicken tenders, and neon signs, but this kimchi fried rice tastes like it could easily be served in a high-end Korean restaurant. Each bite tastes funky from velvety fermented cabbage, savory from chopped chicken sausage, and rich from a runny egg yolk plopped on top.