Manhattan Copycats

I’m slowly becoming more and more enamored with simple foods. And I’ve discovered simple foods generally are created on a triune foundation. Three components that come together to make delicious magic. I want to elaborate on this more at some point and hope to write a full post about it in the future.

I found myself with the opportunity to spend a full day in Manhattan,  and I decided while I was there I would eat a couple of copycat items that are attempting to elevate themselves above their inspiration. I found a restaurant that’s making copycat Five Guys burgers, and one that’s making a copycat Chik-Fil-A sandwich.

The trinity of the burger is bun, cheese, and ground beef patty. I’ve made no secret of my devotion to Five Guys here on the blog and elsewhere, and I continue to be convinced they understand what a great burger is more than most anyone else, and their “Cheeseburger” is the epitome of the ideal burger. April Bloomfield, chef of the dining establishment, The Spotted Pig (which is best known for it’s burger) recently opened a casual burger joint, Salvation Burger in midtown Manhattan. She, like me, has professed her love of Five Guys burgers in the past, and on the menu at Salvation Burger is what she’s calling the “Classic Burger”. A burger which she admits is inspired by Five Guys.

She wisely keeps it simple. Sesame seed bun. Two 3.5 oz patties, pickles, her own house made version of processed cheese, and a thousand island like dressing. No lettuce, tomato, no onion, or other crazy toppings, and this is very similar to the way I make my burgers at home, adding only pickles and mayo to the cheeseburger holy trinity (though sometimes I will throw in a leaf of lettuce).

This is a delicious burger. It’s the perfect size too, it’s filling and satisfying without leaving you stuffed. I had three problems with it though. First, there was too much sauce, and it overwhelmed the beef. I also was not a fan of the sesame seeds as the bun is densely packed with them and their flavor is strong, and again, it detracts from the beef. Lastly, while the patties had a fair amount of crust on them, they were too charred for my liking, and though I love char, it just seemed to be too bitter and burnt tasting to me. Plus it’s an expensive burger at $17.

The other sandwich I was after (and I considered a must try), is the fried chicken sandwich at David Chang’s Fuku.

David Chang grew up in Brooklyn and he’s of Korean descent. He opened Fuku last summer. The idea behind Fuku is fully inspired by Chik-Fil-A, and it’s a fast casual concept focused on Chicken with his own Korean/Asian spin on it. The featured item on the very short menu is a Chik-Fil-A copycat sandwich. I had read recently that Chang spent a year perfecting the recipe for both the chicken itself and the sandwich. This guy takes his fried chicken sandwiches very seriously.

I arrived to Fuku at about 8pm, on a Friday evening and the tiny restaurant was packed. You order at the counter, and then either stand and wait for your food, or have a seat at the small counter if one is available. Luckily, I was able to grab a seat, and I sipped a can of Genny Cream Ale while I awaited my sandwich.

The signature item, “The Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich” is indeed something special. I love it’s simplicity. A large and very spicy fried chicken thigh, pickles, and butter on a Martin’s potato roll. And if it sounds familiar, that’s because I’ve written about it already.

This thing is very very good. It’s probably a good thing there isn’t a Fuku in Albany. Because I would be there all the time. Super Crunchy, with just the right amount of heat, and good tang from the pickles to balance out the breading. Tender, juicy, and flavorful thigh meat. It’s my understanding Chang plans to open more locations of Fuku, so expect to hear more about the (soon to be) chain in the near future.

Lastly, and briefly, I wanted to have some good pizza while I was down there, and doing a little research brought up Roberta’s, a hipster restaurant in Brooklyn. The pizza is very good, and I’ll just leave you with a photo of the excellent Margherita pie I had.

2 thoughts on “Manhattan Copycats

  1. David Chang gets it. This is a man after my own heart. His food is fantastically creative, but approachable (inexpensive) and unpretentious. Best of all it's delicious. Next time I'm in The City, I'm making a beeline for one of his restaurants.


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