Fast Food Review: New! Jr. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich from Arby’s
Before I get into reviewing the latest addition to the Arby’s Value Menu, I just want to send some love to all our GrubGrade readers. You guys rock, and writing for GrubGrade and trying new products and places is a blast – just not when I’m out with my vegetarian friend after we’ve just eaten. But other than that, you get my drift – complete and total awesomeness. OK, now that our proverbial internet hugfest is out of the way, let’s get to the point: Arby’s Jr. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.
As we told you the other day, this new sandwich features Arby’s crispy tender breast of “white meat chicken” on a toasted sesame seed bun with Buffalo Sauce. Basically, your standard value menu chicken of any fast food chain, except with a “hotter” flavor profile than the standard mayo. Because I’m never one to rely solely on memory when comparing similar items from fast food chains, I decided to forgo buying the sandwich while out with my friend on Tuesday, and came back the next day to try it with a differet, more “open minded” friend – the McDonald’s Hot ‘n Spicy McChicken.
I first made sure to grab an extra packet of Buffalo Sauce from each chain (we’ll come back to this later), and began by biting into the Arby’s sandwich alone. As you can see, they certainly don’t skimp on the iceberg at Arby’s. Considering I can use all the vegetables I can come by, I’ll take it. I’m impressed with the slightly chewy and nutty taste of the sesame seed bun and restraint of the Buffalo Sauce application (above the lettuce, which does a good job tempering the heat), but find the first bite underwhelming in heat. That’s not to say it’s unpleasant. The Arby’s Chicken breast has a higher than expected juciness and level of moisture for a value menu chicken filet, and once more, has a really excellent and distinctive crust which gives you a great contrasts with the interior meat.
That meat, however, comes across as a little chewy – as if you can detect the “separated” elements of the MSM product if you really pay attention. Again, not necessarily bad, but yea, kinda weird. As for the Buffalo Sauce, I’m really digging it. It’s what I remember from my childhood days of chicken wings at local ‘Buffalo parties.’ It’s got some body to it and it’s not overwhelmed by the cayenne taste, and actually has a taste of what could pass as butter. It’s a bit tart, but not annoyingly so, and seems thicker than the Buffalo Sauce you get in the Arby’s packet. That being said, it’s not going to impress the heat seekers out there, who will find this sandwich on the mild side, especially since the breast itself doesn’t have any “hot” spices added to it.
How did it compare to the regional variation of the McChicken? This was my first time trying the Spicy McChicken (read Ryan’s review here), and I thought that it was much hotter than Arby’s version, especially when McDonald’s Buffalo sauce was added (although, by my own fault, I added the sauce under the lettuce). The breast itself definitely has a thicker breading and more assertive fried chicken fritter flavor, and the bun is a bit sweeter as well. The McDonald’s Buffalo sauce seemed more tangy too, but then again I also felt like it intensified the heat of the McChicken, and didn’t have any element to cut it. There was flavor however, but the breast seemed dried out and the breading came across as cheaper, lacking the distinctive ‘snap’ of the Arby’s breading. Hotter? Yes. Good? Yes? A bit heftier? I think so. But also different from the Arby’s sandwich, and I wouldn’t necessarily say superior.
Which leads me back to the Buffalo Sauces. Since Arby’s hasn’t yet “officially” put out a press release, I really can’t be sure if it’s the same Buffalo Sauce as you get in their packets, or a different sauce. Judging by some comments I think it may be different, especially if it turns out the sandwich has more calories/fat than the regular Jr. Chicken (which comes with mayo). This would also match the idea that the oil in the sauce cuts the heat, which it certainly did. Either way, I’m left with the impression of a good sandwich, but not a great one. Certainly not very innovative (especially considering more recent Arby’s value menu items like the Jr. Turkey Ranch) but a decent change up to a “standard” value chicken sandwich. My challenge to Arby’s would be trying to create something “outside” the box with chicken though. Maybe a sweet element? How about some kind of “island” theme, if you will? Anyways, to recap: Good sandwich, standard price, not terribly hot, but gets the job done. Now, lets just hope that Buffalo Sauce they add isn’t that bad for me.
Pros: One of the better tasting Buffalo Sauces offered in fast food, with flavor and richness to actually mild a decent wing sauce. Excellent chicken filet in terms of exterior crispness and interior moisture retention. Sesame seed bun. Likely half a serving of veggies with all that iceburg. Value Menu = college student happiness.
Cons: Not terribly hot (I didn't even need a drink), and definitely not as flavorful as Spicy McChicken. Breast filet is a bit small. Yawn on the innovation front. Buffalo Sauce may end up being horrible for you pending official release info.
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.50/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.25 (Decent)
More Info: Arby's.com