It’s been a day since this blog did…anything. But with “Best of” food lists becoming something of a cottage industry in New York City publications, I figured I could dust off this old boat and take it out for a spin every so often, and never run out of places to review.
Today’s location, Red Star, and its Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich, comes from Brooklyn Magazine‘s Reinventing Sliced Bread, or: The 50 Best Sandwiches in Brooklyn. Unlike the New York cheap eats list, this list typically hones in one sandwich.
The five boroughs are not lacking in fried chicken options. From the fried chicken plates at places like the Commodore to celebrity chef fast food options at Shake Shack and Fuku, it takes a lot to stand out. Which brings us to Cobble Hill’s Red Star.
Red Star’s fried chicken option gives the sandwich a Korean bent. And for what it’s worth, the trappings have the makings of a good sandwich. The bread roll is warm and soft. The lettuce and mayo are appropriately sparse. The pickled daikon and dill provide a nice balance to the gochujang sauce spread across the sandwich.
Let’s talk about that gochujang sauce. Derived from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybean, salt, Wikipedia tells me it is supposed to be savory, spicy, and pungent. Red Star’s pulls off the first two without too much pungency. The spiciness is combined with a nice tangy flavor. But, no one is turning out to a restaurant or sandwich shop for the toppings and condiments.
Things go awry with the chicken. Double fried and battered with gossamer rice flour batter, the meat leaves the eater wanting. The sandwich is filling. So over the course of the meal, some of the chicken is tender white meat. But far too often it’s dry, or on my first bite, downright rubbery. This was the case on both of my visits.
I’m leery to write off Red Star based on the shortcoming of just one sandwich. Maybe their banh mi meatball or shrimp po’boy offering are top-notch. But on a stretch of Smith that has Fawkner offering up a (slightly more expensive) fried chicken sandwich and Abilene up and over on Smith serving a buffalo chicken sandwich, Red Star’s Korean Fried Chicken isn’t enough to get me to jump off the subway a few stops before home.