Photo courtesy of Namkeen’s Facebook.

Have you heard of the Hot Chicken craze throughout New Jersey?

Cities in Bergen, Morris, Hudson, Middlesex and Mercer County are participating in this Hot Chicken trend. The signature Hot Chicken was founded by Thornton Prince in 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee. Traditionally, it consists of fried chicken breast coated with cayenne pepper, paprika and other spices, served with bread, coleslaw and pickles.

What makes this kind of chicken special is the delicious kick of spice that it carries. As a Hot Chicken connoisseur myself, I have visited and reviewed many of the joints. Despite the various openings, I have a select favorite that I frequently visit and feel that everyone should try!

Let’s get into a comprehensive review of Namkeen, Birdies and Fluffies.

Namkeen 

In 2020, Usman and Ayesha Chaudry, husband-and-wife owners, opened up a Hot Chicken joint in Chatham, New Jersey, attracting a vast Muslim and South Asian population. There is a Namkeen location in Brooklyn, NY as well. 

Namkeen utilizes Pakistani flavors to add a South Asian feel to their food.

They offer the classic Nashville Sandwich, Chicken and Waffles, Tenders, Tikkaville Sandwich, “Dhamaka Fries” and the “Clucking Waffle Sandwich.” They also added Grilled Cheese, Chicken Tikka Mac and Cheese and Spicy Maple Wings to their menu.

(Subhana Ahmed / SOC Images)

You can choose the level of spice for some of the dishes, ranging from “Naked” to “Hot.” 

I always get the “Clucking Waffle Sandwich” with the “Hot” spice level whenever I visit. This dish consists of the hot fried chicken coated with chipotle aioli sauce, pickles and coleslaw sandwiched between two jalapeño cheddar Belgian waffles. I love to add the honey that they offer inside the sandwich. The spicy chicken coupled with the savoriness and sweetness from the waffle and honey creates a party in your mouth. The creamy chipotle sauce is absolutely delicious and a perfect touch to the sandwich. The portion is also massive, so I always end up taking leftovers home. 

I also tried the Dhamaka fries the first time I visited, and it was mind blowing! The fresh mint chutney and the creamy “tikka sauce” were definitely the stars of the dish. 

Birdies

In 2021, Moon and Sara Mustafa, husband-and-wife owners of Birdies, embarked on a journey to find a “fresh, flavorful and juicy” chicken sandwich located in the tri-state area, but could not find any.

This prompted them to open up a restaurant serving chicken that embodies those descriptions. Birdies is located in Parsippany, New Jersey and extends to Long Island and Brooklyn, NY. 

This place offers “Birdies in a Bun,” “Signature Fries” and “Tendies.” The spice levels range from “Plain” to “SOS.” They also offer delicious milkshakes to cool down with, ranging from vanilla, strawberry, oreo, strawberry oreo and vanilla ferrero rocher. 

(Subhana Ahmed / SOC Images)

The first time I went to Birdies, I got the “Birdies in a Bun,” with the “Hedium” spice level, which is a Nashville Style Hot Chicken coated with “Birdies’ Special Sauce,” pickles and coleslaw sandwiched between brioche buns. The crunchy and juicy chicken initially hits you with a combination of spice and tanginess. The coleslaw and pickles added a fresh element to the sandwich and had a slight sweetness to it.

My only complaint was that there was not another sandwich waiting for me as I finished my first one. 

My family got the “Signature Fries” and after trying one bite of that I was obsessed. This is now my go-to order.

They add loads of bite-sized hot fried chicken, coleslaw, and fresh pickles on top of a bed of fries and drizzle everything with the Birdies’ sauce. I love to mix honey into the dish to add sweetness. As I dig in, I ensure that my fork has a piece of chicken, fry and coleslaw in every bite.

Each bite is incredibly succulent and delicious.  

(Subhana Ahmed / SOC Images)

Fluffies

This year, brothers Raad and Saad transitioned from being foodies to purveyors through opening up a restaurant known for its aesthetics and taste in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Fluffies also recently opened up in Bayonne, New Jersey. 

What’s special about this place is its extensive menu, offering a variety of items packed with South Asian flavors.

Fluffies offers the Signature Hot Chicken Sandwich, Fried Butter Chicken Sandwich, Sweet Chilli Chicken Sandwich, Tandoori, Butter, Sweet Chilli, Nashville, and Hot Chicken flavored Frankie Rolls and Rice Bowls, “Fluffies Filled Fries,” “Fluffies Filled Mac & Cheese,” Butter Chicken Mac and Cheese, Tenders, “Fluffies Poutine” and Nashville Hot, Lemon Pepper, and Honey BBQ flavored Wings. The spice level ranges from “Plain” to “Blistering Hot.” 

They even offer many desserts to fulfill a sweet tooth after a savory bite. The dessert menu offers: Caramelized Choc Chunk Bread Pudding, Key Lime Meringue Pie, Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, Peach or Pear Almond Upside Down Tart, and don’t forget to try their refreshing Mango Lassi.

The first time I visited this place, I got the “Fluffies Filled Fries,” which is a bed of fries topped with chopped Nashville Hot Chicken, pickles, coleslaw and the “Fluffies Sauce.”

I immediately noticed how well seasoned and crispy the fries were when taking my first bite. The chicken was spicy and on the softer side for me. The “Fluffies Sauce” is sweet and did not require me to add honey to add the sweetness element. The coleslaw and pickles were super juicy and perfectly crunchy. I would recommend getting this meal on an empty stomach and big appetite because the portions are huge!  

I have also tried the “Fluffies Filled Mac & Cheese,” which is a layer of mac & cheese topped with Nashville Hot Chicken and drizzled with the “Fluffies Sauce.” The rich and creamy mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food. This super filling dish fulfills the craving of Hot Chicken and pasta all in one dish. 

(Subhana Ahmed / SOC Images)

While exploring, I have made a bucket list of all the Hot Chicken places to try and have yet to try places like Twinz Hot Chicken in Jersey City, Ara’s Hot Chicken in Highland Park, and HCK Hot Chicken in Paramus.

If you are a fan of spice, well seasoned fried chicken, or crispy chicken sandwiches, go to your nearest Hot Chicken joint today and see for yourself what the craze is all about! Also make sure to bring a bottle of milk with you! 

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