Friday, May 1, 2009

Lunching @ Chick-fil-A

My first and last visit for the longest time to Chick-fil-A (at the Sports Arena location) was around its grand opening a little over two years ago. My recent need to run errands several times a week to the nearby Home Depot prompted these latest visits. As usual wanted to share my photos and random thoughts.

I have to say what I love most about Chick-fil-A is their awesome logo (found out Doodles is its name on Wiki). In fact it looks strangely similar to my quick Tamago branding iron design that wouldn't be a shock to me if I were influenced by it subconsciously.. (I only had a half hour with needlenose plier and hanger wire!)

Another article that explains the history of Chick-fil-A here
(that is actually more thorough than the Wiki article). A must read if you're a curious Chick-fil-A fan.

Doing some light researching online, the fact whether their chicken nuggets are marinated/injected/flavored with pickle juice seems to be a heated controversy. When I find three comments that are adamant about its use there would be one with a believablish sound backup that seemed to nullify it.

Nowhere on CFA's Wiki page or their official website mentions the use but I would swear I tasted a light dill tartness on the nuggets this day where if someone had told me that they were pickle juiced I would have believed them.

The nuggets here (8-count, $2.99) are small but from natural breast meat. This means the meat fibers all run in the same and uniform direction as nature intended which is a nice thing.

Most know that the classic (or original) Chicken Sandwich ($2.99) is very plain with only two sliced pickles on a lightly buttered bun.

As with the nuggets the chicken for the sandwich is a nice lean but tender natural breast meat. Breaded similarly to the nuggets but the only pickle flavor detected (to me) were from the actual pickles.

It should be noted that MSG is used here which I think most Americans aren't aware they're consuming it more often than not. Asian eateries get most of the bad wrap and I never understood why. I prefer the name Ajinomoto (or "Essence of Flavor") than the ugly three letter acronym.

Condiments seem to be a big thing at CFA. Most with the cute logo which makes me want to take them all home but without a real purpose. So I always place any unused packets back into their bins like a child would a kitten without full commitment.

From experience, whatever natural tasting flavors Chick-fil-A boasts will easily be canceled out by these sauces so I use them sparingly.

I Luuuuv the Waffle Fries. Light, Fluffy, Moist and very Potato-ey.

An ingeniously designed edible carrier device for my extreme ketchup consumption.

My next meal was a Chargrilled Chicken Club Sandwich ($7.15 for the meal).

The lemonade was standard but nothing to complain. The sandwich though was something that would leave one with a bigger impression.

A moist lightly sweet wheat bun, Provolone cheese, bacon and fresh lettuce and tomato. Myself keen on packaging, what I immediately noticed was the black Styrofoam container as opposed to the insulated cinch folded paper of the originals that I personally find more attractive (but I'm weird like that).

All CCCS' come with a packet of Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce which may or may not be a controlled condiment substance by CFA. I can't remember if I tried it or not, sorry..

The Chick-fil-A Sauce I did try...

...With my Waffle Fries. A sweet "yellow" bbq flavor of sorts. I still prefer my Heinz Ketchup.

The third visit was a random collection of single orders. I finally got my LARGE order of Waffle Fries ($1.75), my second try of the Original Chicken Sandwich ($2.99) and the Chick-fil-A Chicken Salad Sandwich ($3.85).

Not the most economical of decisions this day I admit where the best try was the free ice water.
The Original Sandwich was great! I'm believing now that it takes a few tries to become a Chick-fil-A fan. The meat is thick and substantial, moist and flavorful yet has the proper natural chicken texture that doesn't feel artificially "enhanced."

As you can see I used some CFA Mayo which was creamy and a tad sweet like some spreads. Didn't really need it. Just was curious to try.
And the Waffle Fry..

Oh the Waffle Fry, I like you a lot. For a fast food chain definitely in the top three.

The Chicken Salad Sandwich was very fresh. I was able to taste the individual chopped celery, sweet pickle, eggs and chicken meat. The wheat bread even felt toasted right before it was packaged. It did take a few minutes to come out..

I had ordered too much food for one sitting this day and so had what is shown above to-go for dinner. Surprising or not surprising (can't decide), the Chicken Salad Sandwich actually tasted better later after the flavors were let to set. Not so for the Waffle Fries though. Those are best consumed immediately. :)

My most recent meal was with the Spicy Chicken Sandwich..

The SPCS is so new it's not even on their website at the moment. (Update: I just discovered the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is on a test basis only in California.) I substituted the fries in my meal (which was a very hard decision for me) for a small Chicken Soup for an additional $0.75.

Was a decent starch thickened soup with chicken, carrots, celery and egg noodles. Again nothing to complain and all fresh tasting.

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich though was a bit of a challenge..

Perhaps it was an off day but the name this day should've been the "Spicy & Salty Chicken Sandwich." I almost wanted to add a packet of Mayo to help cut the amount of sodium. (Perhaps headquarters will be interested to know this since it is on a trial? Otherwise I would've enjoyed and welcomed the new sandwich.) An interesting thing I also observed was that the term "Spicy" in fast food chicken also seems to mean "Crispy." I found the breast piece slightly crispy/crunchier than the Original.

The three Chick-n-Strips ($3.39) seemed to have been immune to the salt mishap which was good. But at this point I was again full and saved the remaining two for dinner. These chicken strips were slightly crispy/crunchy, like the Spicy Chicken.

I'm excited to post in a week max time the reasons behind my Home Depot visits..

Hints are I've been trying to increase the amount of light in my place (as mentioned in my Morning Zaru Soba Post) to document better the meals I make at home.

As usual I end with a few selfish personal wish lists. I feel Chick-fil-A can benefit from a Teriyaki Chicken recipe (sans pineapple slice of course) in Southern California..

Or though not as good as a freshly made, maybe they can expand their line of condiments to include this sauce. ;)

Chick-fil-A (Sports Arena), 3570 Sports Arena Blvd San Diego, CA 92110


Saint said...

The provolone looks great on the chargrilled sandwich. And the nuggets and waffle fries in their fried glory, yummy!

Doodles is really cute, you should make a Doodles tamagoyaki marker hehe.

Dennis K. said...

Yeah maybe they can brand their sandwich buns, ha. I actually tested the iron on a piece of bread before using and it looked really neat. Tamago sandwich? :)

meemalee said...

Man, I wish we had one of these.

Chicken establishments in the UK are pretty much limited to KFC and then countless hilarious rip-off versions

Dennis K. said...

Funny I'm actually jealous of you!! To me there's nothing more interesting than a generic fast food chain but a COPY OF a generic fast food chain. Thanks for the link!

Dennis K. said...
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