Chicken in Global Attire
HERE’S a conversation you might hear (or have) on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn:
“Hey, let’s get some schnitzel.”
“Schnitzi or Schnitzel King?”
“Schnitzi. Those guys know how to sauce a schnitzel.”
No matter what you think of schnitzel, it’s fun to say. And you’ll be saying more of it: Schnitzel is on the rise in New York. Schnitzi plans to open in the diamond district in a few months, joining the new Pita Joe and other Manhattan vendors.
But Coney Island Avenue is still the city’s schnitziest strip, with several shops in Midwood serving the sandwiches of fried chicken cutlet on baguette that Israelis, and many Jewish New Yorkers, call schnitzel. (European Jews brought a love of pounding, breading and frying veal to Israel, and replaced it with the more available chicken.)
1299 Coney Island Avenue (Avenue J), (718) 338-4015; schnitzi.com. Sunday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday to 2 a.m. Generally open Friday until two hours before sunset, Saturday one hour after sunset to 2 a.m.
A savvy Orthodox Jewish crowd has been packing Schnitzi since it opened a little over a year ago. And it’s clear why: Schnitzi deep-fries right, removing the cutlets when crisp and fairly greaseless but not dry, and placing a generous portion onto a waiting baguette already stuffed with a slew of accoutrements.
Getting to that point, though, requires some rather complex ordering: First, specify which of the eight styles of breading you want, from Spanish (slightly spicy) to Chinese (sesame-seeded) to Yemenite (allegedly falafel-flavored). Then wait as the kosher chicken is fried to order.
When your number is called, tell the worker how to dress and sauce the baguette, Subway-style. Lettuce, tomato? Obviously. Israeli pickles? Of course. Onions fried or raw? Fried.