The biggest surprise of the season comes in the form of a chicken sandwich by one of the United States' most revered chefs: David Chang is bringing Fuku and its spicy chicken sandwiches to the stadium.
The prolific chef, author, and restaurateur is best known for Momofuku Noodle Bar, which opened in New York City in 2004. Chang's culinary empire includes restaurants in Washington, D.C.; Las Vegas; Toronto; and Sydney.
Fuku, his first foray into the South Florida market, is Chang's fast-casual concept. Launched in New York City in 2016, it specializes in fried chicken sandwiches.
While it may be an unusual step at first glance for Chang to forge into the Miami market by way of a football stadium, the chef explains a kind of serendipity led to the venture, telling New Times he's always wanted to open a spot in Miami. "I'm friends with a lot of people down here, and we've been looking at this area a long time. It's a good first step."
Does that mean Fuku at Hard Rock Stadium is a precursor to a possible Momofuku opening in Miami? Though there are no immediate plans, Chang sounded open to the idea, saying, "I hope so. You never know. We don't have the most traditional approach to expansion. First and foremost, we'll probably just focus on doing this. Maybe we'll be good luck for the Dolphins."
The chef, by the way, turns out to be a big Fins fan. "In general I'm sort of a sports nut, and if you ask me anything about the Miami Dolphins, I can probably answer." Chang explains he was "born" a Washington Redskins fan. "The Dolphins were one of the teams I was allowed to root for that wasn't an NFC East team. My brothers took the Steelers and I took the Dolphins."
Chang wouldn't go into the bird's seasoning, saying, "There are a lot of years of R&D that go into something as simple as a sandwich." What would he reveal? "It has the latent spiciness of a habanero pepper. There are other elements, but really it's just a delicious chicken sandwich. For a lot of people that may not know what Momofuku is, it's sort of an entry into what we do. But, honestly? I don't care if they know or not. It's just good. Maybe they'll have it with a nice cold beer and watch a great sporting event."
Local restaurants are also featured at Hard Rock Stadium. Returning favorites include Ray and Shannon Allen' s Grown (sections 148 and 242), Shula Burger (sections 114, 142, 222, 250, and 345), and Sushi Maki (section 245).
Coyo Taco (sections 214 and 313) also joins the team, featuring guacamole, burritos, burrito bowls, elote, and four different tacos (pollo al carbon, carne asada, cochinita pibil, and hongos). Coyo's Scott Linquist says that when stadium officials approached Coyo's partners, joining was an easy decision. "For us, it's about branding and having a presence. Hopefully the team will do great this year."
Hard Rock Stadium. 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens;305-943-8000; hardrockstadium.com.