Is Japan’s new D.I.Y. fried chicken sandwich a match made in convenience store heaven?

At first glance, Japanese convenience store chains might look incredibly similar, but each one has a star product that keeps luring customers back through their automatic doors time and time again. 

Lawson, for instance, is known for its tasty range of Karaage-kun chicken nuggets, while 7-Eleven does a roaring trade with their cheap but reliable coffees. And over at Family Mart, they’re famous for their Famichiki, a boneless piece of fried chicken that kind of tastes like KFC, only softer, greasier and, some would argue, far more delicious, especially after a night out on the town. 

Famichiki is sold from a display case on the counter and is served up on its own in yellow-and-white striped packaging with “Famichiki” and “I am chicken” printed on it. This is the way it’s been done for years now, so when Family Mart announced this week that they would be selling exclusive Famichiki buns so customers could make Famichiki burgers, fans were understandably excited.

While there’s nothing stopping customers from making a Famichiki burger at home with regular buns from the supermarket, the new buns sold at Family Mart are specifically designed to be used with the Famichiki, and come with a special tartare sauce inside them.

We were keen to find out what the combination would taste like, so we immediately set out to get our hands on them as soon as the buns were released on 12 January. There was a lot of advertising for the new product at the store we visited, and after picking up a pack from the bread aisle, we took them to the counter, where we ordered our Famichiki to go as well.

▼ “I am chicken”

Nobody likes a soggy bun, which is the reasoning behind the decision to sell the two items separately. It’s something rival chain Lawson has been doing for a while now, selling special buns separately for their L-chicken, so it’s actually surprising Family Mart hadn’t thought to do this sooner.

Better late than never, though, and when we ripped open the pack and took the buns out, we could see they were slightly smaller than palm-sized.

There is the option to heat or toast the buns at home, of course, but we decided to try them as-is for our first time. The whole bun was neatly cut in two, making it super convenient to simply plonk the Famichiki inside.

▼ Peering inside the buns revealed…

…the tartare sauce, which again was great for convenience, but we couldn’t help but think they could’ve been a little more generous with the serving.

▼ Um, how about covering the entire surface of the bun?

We held off on the urge to smother some more sauce of our own on the buns, because if this was how it was designed to be eaten, this was how we were going to eat it, for the first time at least. So we got out our steamy, soft, juicy Famichiki, which filled the room with its hearty fried aromas…

▼ …and sandwiched it in between the soft Famichiki Buns.

By placing the chicken inside, the sauce spread out a bit, which we were glad to see, so we took hold of our new creation in both hands, licked our lips and delved in for our very first bite.

This was actually…a fantastic combo! The tasty Famichiki coated the tongue with its delicious juices, only to be conveniently swept up by the chewy buns in each mouthful while the slightly tangy sauce provided tantalising bursts of extra flavour.

It was a harmonious blend of ingredients, making it seem like a burger you’d buy ready-made from a fast food joint. Despite the buns not being heated, they actually felt like they had been, thanks to the heat provided by the Famichiki, which worked to heat the sauce and bring out its flavours as well.

This gets a greasy two-thumbs up from us, and now we’re keen to try out all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations to create the Famichiki Burger of our dreams. And now that we think of it, we have a feeling this’ll be the perfect partner for the convenience store chain’s upcoming exclusive beer with the English spelling mistake on the label!

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