Amber Kim & Vanessa Jo
Everyone loves a fried chicken sandwich and the staff of the Wildcat is no exception. And because the Wildcat enjoys a bit of friendly (and tasty) competition, food experts Vanessa Jo and Amber Kim pit two local chicken joints against each other: Downtown Brea’s popular BRUXIE Fried Chicken & Waffle, and Fullerton’s (under-appreciated) Japanese-themed Mr. Katsu.
ORDER: Kickin’ “Nashville” Hot Waffle sandwich ($9.95)
ABOUT THE SANDWICH: The Kickin’ “Nashville” Hot Waffle sandwich is a spicy and smoky waffle sandwich drizzled with a tangy sauce.
“BUN”: The soft, crispy, and warm waffle vessel is sweet and perfectly balances the spiciness of the chicken and sauce. However, the waffle becomes soggy and saggy which makes for messy eating. Despite the flimsiness of the waffle, it compliments the flavor of the salty pickle as well as the spicy fried chicken.
FRIED CHICKEN: Every bite is addicting and the chicken, naturally, proves to be the best part of the sandwich. The chicken is perfectly fried, crispy, tender. Although the chicken was a bit too spicy, it lives up to its “Kicken'” name.
CONDIMENTS: To even out the spiciness of the chicken, there is sauce between the salty pickle and the chicken breast. The thick sauce is tangy and mildly creamy, which coats the chicken with each bite. Without the sauce, the sandwich would be too salty, so the condiment evens out the flavors while also adding a tangy flavor.
OVERALL: The sandwich is superb — from the spicy sandwich, to the sweet waffle, to the salty-yet-juicy pickle, to the tangy sauce. The spiciness is indeed “kickin’,” but for those who enjoy heat in their bite, this sandwich is close to perfect.
BRUXIE Chicken & Waffle, 215 W Birch St, Brea, CA 92821
ORDER: Blue Cheese Buffalo Sandwich ($13.75)
ABOUT THE SANDWICH: Mr. Katsu offers a fusion of Korean-style pork cutlets, donkatsu, with classic American-style sandwich flavors.
BUN: The classic sandwich — layers of meat and vegetables all sandwiched between a bun that is lightly caramelized and toasted with butter. Every part of it is crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. (Since the sandwich was ordered as take-out, some of the sauce seeped into the bread, making some parts softer and less crisp.)
DONKATSU: With the buffalo sauce on top and the layer of coleslaw, the pork cutlet retains all of the crunch on the outside with a thin, crisp outside layer. The meat itself is juicy, flaky, and tender, and not too greasy. Overall, the texture and flavor of the pork cutlet is satisfactory and is a must-try for chicken lovers.
CONDIMENTS: In between each layer, the spicy buffalo sauce and blue cheese sauce are evenly distributed. The tangy notes of vinegar from the buffalo sauce complements the creamy and salty notes from the blue cheese sauce. With the tenderness of the pork cutlet, the butteriness of the bread, and the freshness of the coleslaw, the heat and salt from the condiments creates a well-balanced flavor.
OVERALL: A memorable sandwich that isn’t too salty, bitter, or spicy, and the bread and pork cutlet alongside the creamy sauces and coleslaw are still crispy. Though the sandwich has a reasonable amount of heat, it would have been even better if the buffalo sauce had a spicier punch. Despite this, the contrasting textures and flavorings work beautifully together.
Mr. Katsu, 3165 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831
THE WINNER: The Blue Cheese Buffalo Sandwich from Mr. Katsu is the winner for the fried sandwich challenge due to its unique combination of Western and Asian flavors. While the Kickin’ “Nashville” Hot Waffle sandwich from Bruxie is a tasty take on the classic combination of chicken and waffles, the concept feels tired in comparison with Mr. Katsu’s innovative textures and flavors.