Photo by Caroline Jones
Photo by Caroline Jones

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The Sandwich: Chili Crab Fried Chicken Sandwich

Where: District Fishwife at Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE

Cost: $12

Stuffings: Fried chicken thigh, pickles, chili crab sauce, lettuce, lemon aioli

Bread: Potato roll from Lyon Bakery

Thickness: 3.5 inches

Pros: The crisp crust on the fried chicken gives the sandwich just the right amount of crunch when it’s paired with the thick, drippy sauce and the soft potato roll. Adding the slightly sweet chili sauce elevates what would otherwise be a pedestrian chicken sandwich into something that tastes interesting, at least after one bite.

Cons: Frying the chicken twice ensures its crust will be crisp, but also guarantees the thigh meat will be dry by the time it hits the bun. Because the thickness of the meat isn’t consistent, some bites are perfectly cooked and others taste as dry as leather. The sauce, a combination of sustainably sourced crab, chilis, and tomatoes based on a popular Singapore dish that District Fishwife founder Fiona Lewis sampled while traveling in Asia, sounds intriguing but lacks depth of flavor and any hint of crab. You only taste sweetness and mild spice.

Sloppiness level (1 to 5): 5. The majority of the crab sauce oozes off the top of the sandwich and puddles under it, making it tricky to put the sandwich down once you pick it up. The remaining sauce gets absorbed by the roll, making it structurally inadequate, especially since it must bear the load of a heavy piece of chicken.

Overall score (1 to 5): 1.5. Though conceptually well-intentioned, this sandwich fails on execution. From the messy construction to the lack of flavor, nearly everything needs improvement.