After a wild chicken-parts-on-a-stick dining experience with Ben Mintz last week at Yakitori Torishin, I wanted to eat at (and then write about) a chicken spot this week that was a little more mainstream.
I didn't go 100% down the middle because instead of a traditional joint, and perhaps in honor of Ramadan, I decided to go to Namkeen- The first halal Nashville hot chicken in the US.
For those who are unaware of what either "Ramadan" or "halal" means, I could easily explain it to you, but I just don't feel like it.
Just know I drove about 40 minutes (with traffic) from my home in Ridgewood, NJ to a town called Chatham, NJ to see what would happen when Pakistani spices met Tennessee chicken.
More specifically, I went there to put 2 things inside me: The Clucking Waffle Sandwich and The Chicken Tikka Mac & Cheese.
Here's the quick write-up… Both dishes were wonderful.
And for people who are wondering, "When will you write a negative experience in one of these blogs, Large?"… My answer would be, "Hopefully never."
Unlike Dave with his slices and Balls with his burgers, I don't go to unknown places and hope for the best. Most of the spots I write about I have either been to before or am sent there by someone who is as big a "foodie" douchebag as I am.
Both Pres and Glennie are equally young, virile, and in the primes of their lives, whereas this old bag doesn't have time to waste on 5.6 rated pizza.
So onto the food…
I will do the sandwich first because fried chicken sandwiches and Nashville hot chicken are surprisingly still all the rage.
They do a very very good chicken sandwich at Namkeen… There isn't a ton of Pakistani flare to it outside of the spice rub they shake on after it comes out of the dip, but it is still extremely tasty.
- If you order it hot, it is fucking HOT… I was sweating like a whore in church halfway through.
- One of The Clucking Waffle Sandwiches is enough for 2 people… Particularly if you're ordering something else (which I always do).
Saying it's a "very very good" chicken sandwich may not be enough to get you off your couch, so I will also tell you this… The homemade waffle they serve this bitch on is OUTSTANDING.
They keep 4 of those industrial flip-waffle makers going at all times and they are constantly filling them with a very light batter, a small handful of shredded cheddar, and then a smaller handful of chopped fresh jalapeños.
It is a perfect vehicle for this fucking thing… The outside retains a crunch while the inside softens against the weight of the pickles, slaw, chipotle aioli, and dipped chicken inside.
However… As is the case with almost EVERYTHING in the world, this does NOT travel well.
We ordered WAY too much and brought a sandwich home, and in the 45 minutes it took us to get there, the whole thing turned into a lop of shit.
So I am telling you to go out of your way to try this sandwich, but I will also tell you not to bother if you are traveling more than a couple of feet before you eat it.
The second dish I got there was even more enjoyable than the first… The Chicken Tikka Mac & Cheese made up of chopped fried chicken drowned in their tikka sauce and then drizzled with mint chutney.
This is EXACTLY why I drove an hour and a half round trip… To see some real Indian influence on these Southern dishes.
And for people who never tried Indian or Pakistani food, tikka masala is a perfect gateway order. To be honest, the origins of the dish are sometimes traced back to the UK, not India, so you shouldn't expect a fiery curry-laced experience when you order it on your maiden voyage into Indian.
Quickly… Chicken tikka masala is traditionally boneless chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt that are roasted in an oven and served in a tomato-based sauce that includes cream and a masala spice mix.
It's fucking delicious over rice or sopped up with a hot piece of naan OR covering crunchy Southern-fried chicken breast that is laying on top of a bed of mac&cheese.
The macaroni is nothing special, but I like that… If this thing had 5 kinds of cheese and a bunch of spice it would've fucked it up for the Tikka.
The chicken is even crispier than the one on the sandwich because they never dip it… They chop it up and place it on the mac before smothering it in the tikka masala
There isn't a ton of heat to this dish (thankfully) but they serve it drizzled with a cooling mint chutney which is simply pureed fresh mint, cilantro, lemon juice, and yogurt along with a couple of spices.
And that's it… That's the meal.
They serve fries there with various spice mixes on them, but I really don't give a shit. Every fucking time I go back to Chatham, NJ, I am going to go to Namkeen and order the exact same thing because that waffle sando and mac&cheese are something I want inside me again and again and again and again.
As is the case every Friday, GRUBHOUSE on Twitter SPACES with Clem and Duggs today at 2 PM.
WEEKLY FOOD CALENDAR
Today, Friday, April 30th- National Oatmeal Cookie Day
Saturday, May 1st- National Chocolate Parfait Day AND National Beer Pong Day
Sunday, May 2nd- National Chocolate Truffle Day
Monday, May 3rd- National Chocolate Pudding Day
Tuesday, May 4th- National Hoagie Day
Wednesday, May 5th- Cinco de Mayo AND National Enchilada Day
Thursday, May 6th- International No Diet Day
Friday, May 7th- National Roast Leg of Lamb Day