In a hip hotel in Chicago’s West Loop, nestled among more Michelin-starred restaurants than I can count, KFC has presented me with a carefully plated presentation of chubby chicken chunks on a rectangular white plate.
The first is your standard, plain tan. The second, a honey BBQ. The third, drenched in buffalo sauce. And the final features an oily coating of Nashville hot spice.
Sitting amid lavish bouquets of bell peppers, turnips, Brussels sprouts, and other vegetables, I take my first bite of vegan* KFC.
KFC’s new Beyond Fried Chicken will be available in nearly 100 stores in Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and surrounding areas from February 3 to February 23.
Produced by Beyond Meat exclusively for KFC, if it sells and customers like it, a nationwide release will follow at an undisclosed date.
Back in Chicago in my fancy tasting room, a 3-foot-tall cutout of the Colonel himself looks on from a green wall as I tried the undressed plant nugget for the first time. My teeth pierce the crunchy fried coating and shred through the meat.
It tastes like a doggone piece of chicken—and not just any piece of chicken, but a KFC piece of chicken with hints of those 11 herbs and spices.
I fork and knife my way through the honey BBQ (perfectly too sweet, and the coating still crunchy), the buffalo (a touch vinegary for my taste but offering the uncanny aftertaste of chicken), and the Nashville (the deep pepper flavor has respectable heat that hits me a delightful 10 seconds later).
KFC adopting Beyond Meat is not necessarily the biggest coup for fake meats in fast food: Last year, Beyond Meat has already snuck its breakfast sausage into sandwiches and bowls at Dunkin’ (the fourth most popular chain in the U.S.) while fierce competitor Impossible landed the Whopper at Burger King (the sixth).