The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Fast Food Review: Fried Fish Sandwiches

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Mar 23, 2007 3:30PM

We are in the midst of Lent right now. Though Chicagoist isn't entirely Catholic, we do know that part of Lent involves not eating meat. Which means, if you believe a part of your meal should be accessible via the drive-thru window, you may be feeling a little bit peckish these days.

Chicagoist decided to take the proverbial bull by its horns and determine once and for all, which fast food fish sandwich is the best of the bunch. Along the way, we tried sandwiches from Burger King, KFC, Long John Silver's, McDonald's and White Castle.

What we learned? Well, it isn't pretty. Fish sandwiches are, for the most part, terrible. In general, the fish is merely a vehicle for the fried outside, the tartar sauce is overwhelming, and the bun is on this side of tasteless. In our complex ranking system, the best a sandwich can do is get zero stinky fishes. That means we might eat it again even on our own volition. The more stinky fishes, the less edible the sandwich was.

Our results, in order from least edible to most:

2007_3_WC.jpgWhite Castle fish sandwich ($1.29): stinky%20fish%2024x19.jpgstinky%20fish%2024x19.jpgstinky%20fish%2024x19.jpgstinky%20fish%2024x19.jpg
We should have known better than to order a fish sandwich from White Castle. One fish sandwich from White Castle is about four bites worth. The sandwich comes with a nondescript squishy bun, a slice of "melted" American cheese and tartar sauce on the side. The cheese wasn't properly melted, which was a negative, but on the positive side, we could choose how much tartar sauce to use. Too bad no amount of tartar sauce or cheese could overcome the sour smell and slightly nauseating taste of this sandwich. At least it was small, right?

2007_3_mcdo.jpgMcDonald's Filet of Fish ($2.45): stinky%20fish%2024x19.jpgstinky%20fish%2024x19.jpgstinky%20fish%2024x19.jpg
The Filet of Fish was the first sandwich we tried on our epic journey into fish sandwich hell, so we had no idea what to expect. Chicagoist thinks Filet of Fish is like the platonic ideal of the crappy fast food fish sandwich. A squishy white bun barely stood up to a substantial glob of tartar sauce. The cheese was melted, but didn't taste like anything. When we bit into it, we tasted the tartar sauce, the sweet bun and the salty coating of the white fish. No fish flavor was discernible. Still, there was nothing particularly noxious about this sandwich; it just wasn't good.

More reviews (and the winner!) after the jump.

2007_3_LJS.jpgLong John Silver Fish Sandwich ($1.99): stinky%20fish%2024x19.jpg
These guys specialize in fish, so we thought they might somehow be better than the rest. We were only partially right. The extra-large piece of fish had a masterful fried exterior which was actually crunchy. The bun was a typical roll, with medium heft. But while the bun and fish itself were decent, the gobs of tartar sauce and few measly pieces of iceberg lettuce were definitely not. We would recommend ordering this one with tartar on the side. All in all, not too bad.

2007_3_KFC.jpgKFC Fish Snacker ($1): stinky%20fish%2024x19.jpg
KFC may have asked the pope to bless the Fish Snacker, but this sandwich is far from a religious experience. Still, this sandwich had a couple of big pluses. The rectangular roll was the same size as the rectangular piece of fish, which was a huge boon for them, since no other sandwich had fish and rolls that matched. The kaiser roll it is served on comes with sesame seeds on top for a classy touch. Though the fish isn't particularly crispy, it has a nice texture to it, and we could even taste a mild fish flavor. Our only complaint about the Snacker is that it had a slightly odd aftertaste.

2007_3_bk.jpgBK Big Fish ($3.05): NO STINKY FISH!
The Burger King offering was both the largest in size and the most expensive. But you know what? It is worth it all the way. The substantial bun provides excellent support for the crispy, hot, perfectly salted piece of fish. Though we felt the Big Fish didn't have enough tartar sauce, we vastly preferred not enough to too much. A pile of iceberg lettuce provided a welcome counter to the other flavors. The biggest perk? This sandwich actually tasted good. And it comes in spicy, which is nice if you like to switch things up from time to time.

Stinky fish image courtesy of FishbowlDC.