Thursday, May 12 2022
Duck Lips Hot Chicken offers excellent tofu.
Photo by Eleanor Knauss
Duck Lips Hot Nashville Tofu “Sando” is a vegetarian riff of the Nashville-style fried chicken sandwich.

You might not expect it from a place called Hot Chicken Duck Lips, but there’s a new Nashville-style veggie fried tofu sandwich in town.

Duck Lips, a “virtual brand” operating in the kitchen of Merchant, launched on October 14 with a menu available only for take out and delivery.

Chef Andrew Vogel, Culinary Director of Rule No. One Hospitality Group – which oversees Restaurant Merchant and Sister Lucille – says the concept for Duck Lips was born out of a desire to adapt to the challenges restaurants continue to face. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With in-house catering restrictions, loss of outdoor seating and climate change, we started looking for ‘ghost kitchens’ or ‘virtual brands’, which are brands available online through services. third-party delivery, ”explains Vogel. Duck Lips focuses on chicken, but Rule No. One has three other virtual brands serving tacos, nachos, and pizza. “Fried chicken – and fried tofu – travel well. We grabbed our Nashville Fried Chicken Sandwich that we had on our menu at Merchant and spun the concept for [Duck Lips] out of that, ”Vogel says.

A riff on Duck Lips’ Nashville Chicken Sandwich, the Nashville Hot “Sando” Tofu gets essentially the same treatment as its chicken counterpart. “Once we started with the concept, it was really important for us to have a vegetarian option,” said Vogel.

Much like chicken, tofu is dipped in a homemade brine of fresh dill and mustard seeds. “We didn’t know how it would work – we had to play with it,” Vogel says. “The first two times we soaked it too long and it got too salty, we had to adjust the thickness of the slice… it took us a little while to nail it down but I think we did. are.”

The extra firm tofu patty is then dredged in buttermilk and flour before being fried. Available in varying levels of spice, ranging from spice free to ‘stupidly hot’, the sandwich is served on a brioche bun from Madison Sourdough Co. with aioli, dill pickles and a vegetable salad- roots made from heart beauty radish, carrots, broccoli stems, kohlrabi, cabbage and creamy poppy seed dressing. A double sandwich is also an option, which is the same sandwich but doubles the amount of tofu. “At that time, I don’t know if [people] eat it with a fork, ”Vogel laughs. “It’s a really big sandwich.”

Acknowledging that Madison already has plenty of vegetarian options, Vogel says he wasn’t sure how Duck Lips’ tofu sandwich would be received, but that they saw a lot of sales and received good feedback. “It’s cool to see it take off,” says Vogel. “[It’s] a hidden gem on a chicken menu.

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