Bantam King's fried-chicken-skin ice cream sandwich isn't just the latest dessert to incorporate a savory ingredient. It's a taunt to all those treats that thought they were so cool and adventurous for adding crumbles of maple bacon.
“Ha! I laugh at your maple bacon, which is like adding candy to dessert!” the sandwich seems to mock. “Try mixing in crispy lengths of chicken skin and actually promoting the ingredient to diners who cringe at the thought of snacking on animal skin.”
Yes, the ice cream sandwich is something of an Andrew Zimmern dare, but not much. Not really.
Bantam chef Katsuya Fukushima, who created the dessert based on Moroccan bastilla, surrounds the skin with so many other comforts that the fried bird epidermis can get lost among the pile up of ingredients. The ice cream sandwich is more literal than many of its kind: A couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream are sandwiched in a toasted King's Hawaiian bun, a roll sweetened with a touch of liquid sugar. The skin is scattered atop the ice cream, and then the whole sandwich is sprinkled with powdered sugar, cinnamon and kinako, a roasted soybean flour often used as a garnish in Japanese desserts.
You'll probably notice the skin's texture before its flavor: It adds a brittle-like crackle to the sandwich, a bite otherwise soft and creamy. But should you hit a particularly rich deposit of skin, the flavor will wallop you upside the head. It's chicken to the power of 10, which makes sense, right? The same effect happens with cracklings: The fried (or baked) skin is a concentrated blast of flesh and fat, a flavor so porky it borders on the obscene.
But is it good?
That's a harder question to answer. Personally, I liked it. It's like the creamiest cream of chicken soup, but in semisolid form. But I suspect that, for many, this dessert will be a game of chicken, and they will be the first to swerve out of the way of the oncoming fried-chicken-skin ice cream sandwich.
$5. 501 G St. NW. 202-733-2612. The window is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.