Reviewing the Chains: Wendy's Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken
I didn't exactly have high expectations when I was tasked with reviewing Wendy's new boneless chicken creations. I've certainly had a square hamburger or two from the red=headed temptress' chain, but it's never the first choice I make. So it's with a very real sense of dread that I walk through the doors and stand in line for my lunch today and decide to try the Sweet and Spicy Asian chicken over the Honey BBQ or Bold Buffalo flavors.
There are advertisements for these new chicken concoctions scattered throughout the entire restaurant. Most of the advertisements just nudge the reader to "Try one today" or "Try all three," but the most hilarious one of all reads "5-star taste! (No reservations required)." After trying the "Sweet and Spicy Asian chicken," I can honestly say that there's not a single accurate statement on that advertisement. In fact, we should all have reservations about living on the same planet as this dish, much less eating it.
I order the Asian Chicken combo for $5.99, which comes with some soggy
French fries and an enormous soft drink. I want to watch how the five-star
taste experience is put together. I hope I'm not giving away any
insider trade secrets by telling you this. To make the Spicy Asian
chicken nuggets, take some chicken out of the fryer (about seven
pieces should do), put them in a black plastic container, grab a squirt
bottle from above the French-fry lamp, and douse the nuggets. Gordon
Ramsay has nothing on these peeps.
After the gentleman places my chicken on a red plastic tray and slides
it across the counter, I make the long walk to a booth in the corner of
the restaurant. I take out my camera phone and begin taking pictures of
my food like I'm some starry-eyed aborigine who's never even heard of
fast food before. After dodging a few unbelieving stares and scowls
from other patrons, I pry off the plastic top and prepare myself.
Duck Sauce. Hot Duck Sauce is the only thing I can smell coming from
this basket of mushy chicken. The chicken nuggets in the "Sweet and
Spicy Asian sauce" are not exactly the same shape as the ones they ask
you to dip in honey mustard, but they're close. They're definitely
processed on the same machinery and from the same types of meat as the
standard nuggets. Not wanting to ponder the origins of this chicken
anymore, I grab a plastic fork, spear a chunk, and slowly raise it to
This is the part where I'm supposed to tell you what it tastes like, but I'm
not going to do that just yet. Instead, I'd like to tell you exactly
how you can duplicate this experience at home. First, take a jar of
duck sauce and pour a couple of tablespoons of crushed red pepper inside.
Next, grab a used sponge from your sink and cut it into seven uneven
pieces. Arrange the sponge chunks on a plate, pour the red pepper laced
duck sauce all over them, and place it in the microwave for about three
seconds. Congratulations, you've just made Wendy's Sweet and Spicy
The chicken is soggy, lukewarm, and chewy. Not chewy like overcooked
chicken but chewy like Big League Chew. The breading is layered on
almost a quarter inch thick and is dripping with duck sauce and red
pepper flakes. What little chicken there is inside each nugget is moist
and stringy, a combination that scares me enough to never want to
mention it again.
So to wrap it all up: I ordered the "chicken," ate it, got an
honest-to-goodness set of stomach cramps for the next 30 minutes or so,
and I'm dreading what is coming next. Save yourself the trip and lick
duck sauce off a soggy piece of bread.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in the South Florida dining scene.