Burger King’s New Chicken Strips and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ and Kung Pao Sauces

Now that the iconic fear-paralyzed face of the Burger King royalty is gone, who will usurp the noble throne? Built on ketchup slicks and nuggets seized from the crownius region of the chicken, the fast food restaurant has decreed a complete overhaul of its restaurants. My local BK, not a king, but not yet a lounge, has been partially remodeled but is stuck in a strange dead zone where the only recognizable theme is the leftover St. Patrick’s Day decorations from last week.
Aside from the new menu cards, BK has introduced a few new menu items, expanding to the cafe-style foods and coffee beverages to garner business from some of their obvious competition from Ronald the Court Jester. I guess if they play their cards right and assume that the law of gravity holds, it would be the most obvious and closest place for me to go for a mediocre frappe. But only if my Rascal stopped working and I had to…walk. Along with these, they’ve introduced a new chicken strip to go along with their new chicken tenders, released around this time next year. T’wasn’t the poultry that intrigued me, but rather, the debut of their two newest sauces, Kung Pao and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ, that carried me into my local establishment on this, the day of the newly released chicken strip.
Touting the strips in both a 3 and a 5 pack for $3.29 and $4.49, respectively, it works out to just over a dollar a strip if you’re going for the small pack. Not the most economical choice unless you’re just really, really into chicken strips. The strips are billed as being marinated and breaded in a seasoned coating, but eaten plain, salty, mediocre chicken was the only noticeable flavor. The breading was crisp, but lacked the crunchiness its counterparts have in abundance and clung closely to the chicken like a too-tight tube top on a girl making a duck face on Facebook. It was surprisingly devoid of oil, but left a very salty, onion-heavy aftertaste and had a bone-dry chewiness more appropriate on jerky than chicken. Only one of the strips was longer than a ballpoint pen and all were tough in texture. Hideously underwhelming, and they made me glad I’d anticipated the worst and bought a cheeseburger to eat instead.
I figured the sauces would be my saving grace for these strips, and let’s face it, they were really just a vehicle for them anyhow. Boasted as being “totally sweet” by my server, the new sauces don’t try to mimic anything I’ve seen from the competition. They blaze their own trail. The roasted jalapeno barbecue suffered from a lack of two things- enthusiasm and proper nomenclature. Assuming that titles as well as ingredients are listed in their order of amount from largest to smallest, I came into this carrying the expectation that “roasted jalapeno barbecue” would be peppers first and barbecue second. Not a chance, unfortunately. It was gummy and sweet when sampled on a spoon, with a heavy brown sugar assault and the clean, lingering bite of jalapeno peppers after. But eaten with the chicken strips or spread on a little bite of burger, the spiciness drowned in the rich ingredients that outnumbered it, leaving a generically sweet flavor with a touch of cayenne, like Sweet Baby Ray’s. I would have loved if there had been chunks of fresh pepper in this or even pickled rings.
The Kung Pao sauce, on the other hand, was perfectly executed and tasted like delicious, cheap Chinese takeout sauce with a more pronounced set of flavors. Hell, this even encompassed some of the cheaper takeout chicken sauces, at least around here. Wafting sharp, sweet pickled ginger aromas from the moment I opened the packet, I knew this would be a great addition to the sauce line. I’ll give it this- it completely blows McDonald’s Sweet Chili out of the water. This sauce had large pieces of ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes and brought an umami-laden depth to the traditional flavor profile of sweet and sour with an aggressive, lingering spice. Slightly tinny at first, but nothing repulsive. This was the only sauce we went back for seconds on.
I’m not typically crazy about fast food chicken as I’ve started making my own nuggets at home, but the new sauces are unique enough that I’d definitely consider getting the Kung Pao if I were ever at a loss for condiments around the house. Not that that will ever happen, but it’s a pleasant deviation from the standard ketchup ‘n’ mustard set.

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