Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bantam King (Walk-Up Window) Food Review

Nanban Chicken Combo at Bantam King

Fast casual food just keeps getting better. Bantam King is known for its Japanese ramen, and choice location (across the street from the Verizon Center) but it took a sneak preview of its new Walk-Up Window to discover the best chicken sandwich I've ever had. Sound the alarm: There's a new "King" in town, and he/it tastes delicious.

Yesterday was my first visit to Bantam King (it's usually too crowded, when I pass by... and you know how much I hate crowds.) After tasting their fried chicken (which is available as a $12 plate inside) rest assured, it won't be my last. The sandwich costs a mere $6.50 by itself ($9 with fries) and comes wrapped in foil, tucked inside a tidy red & white box with a lid. They use a dashi-brined (fried) chicken thigh, which produces the juiciest meat possible, with crunch for days. The sesame seed bun is durable yet soft, courtesy of Martin's, and the toppings are bare bones but perfect... shredded cabbage and tartar sauce. Doesn't sound like much, but wait until you taste it. The aforementioned crunch is audible (literally, with every bite) and the taste rivals perennial favorites BonChon & MoMo Chicken & Grill. That's high praise indeed. Looking at it, you can't help but be tempted to add lettuce & tomato; but amazingly enough, there's no need for the extra crunch or juiciness. Needless to say, this is one heck of a sandwich.

J-Pop Float

The same can't be said of the fries however, which were suitably hot but light on flavor/taste. Normally I wouldn't mind, but a sandwich like this deserves better companionship. Decidedly better, dessert... Bantam King's $5 J-Pop Float, which features Japanese soda (today's flavor, melon cream soda) with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous dollop of whipped cream with requisite cherry on top. With the temperature hovering around 90° (and no shelter from the blaring sun) it's difficult to imagine a better way to finish off the best chicken sandwich in DC.

Walk-Up Window

The Walk-Up Window is a genius idea, especially in a high foot traffic area. Today's wait eclipsed 10 minutes (which is more than most food trucks) but I wouldn't want to tinker with BK's perfect (there's that word again) recipe. The chicken is cooked to order, and the end results are worth twice the time. At $6.50 per, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine long lines come Monday (when the window officially opens to the public.) Don't be surprised to see yours truly, back for seconds (and thirds.) It's that good.