There are seven key components to a Mabels hot chicken sandwich.

A Martin’s potato bun, cut in half and toasted on the inside (and only the inside, so the outside remains soft but the inside is crispy ). No butter.
Chipotle mayo, house-made with Keans free range eggs.
Shredded iceberg lettuce.
Three to four red onion slices, raw.
A slice of American cheese.
Four sliced dill pickles.
And a buttermilk-and-hot-sauce-brined chicken thigh, dredged in a mix that, in Mabels owner Cassandra Hanna’s words, “contains the usual suspects” – flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne – plus “a few others that will remain top secret”.

Combined, these seven components form one of the city’s best fried chicken burgers. Note I use the word “burger” because I reckon most people would, upon seeing the thing, call it a burger and not a sandwich (it making use of a bun as its bookends, not two slices of bread).

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Now, I often get the burger takeaway. On the ride home it always takes an exorbitant amount of self-restraint to abstain from opening the box and demolishing it on sight. The aroma of fried spices that escapes from that little cardboard container makes every red light stop a battle of will.

The burger is perfectly constructed, with sliced pickles layered, lattice-like, over a cheese slice, which is draped photogenically over a golden-russet fried chicken thigh, which sits on a bed of shredded lettuce and sliced onion. The chipotle mayo oozes from under the burger hood, just a bit. Like I said, very photogenic.

And it tastes as good as it looks. The mix of textures and flavours is so well balanced. No one element overpowers another. You bite down through the soft, sweet-but-not-too-sweet bun into the crunchy batter, into juicy chicken meat. The mayonnaise is tangy and a little spicy. The pickles add another distinct kind of crunch and tartness. There’s a little heat to each mouthful, but it’s not fiery.

And it’s not a mess to eat! It somehow all hangs together in a neat-ish, if saucy, little stack. More evidence of its flawless construction.

“The thing that makes this sandwich work is its simplicity and its freshness of ingredients,” Hanna says. “Fried-to-order chicken thigh that is golden and crunchy on the outside and moist, juicy and tender in the middle.”

Hanna’s partner, Josh Green, is the chef responsible for this creation. He perfected the fried chicken recipe specifically over 15 years. This is not surprising to me, because the fried chicken in this thing is unimpeachable. And it goes some way to explaining why I think about this burger so often, and why I eat it almost as regularly. If you’re a chicken enthusiast, as I am, it really doesn’t get better than this in burger form.

“I Can’t Stop Thinking About” is a series about dishes Broadsheet’s editors are obsessed with. Katya Wachtel is Broadsheet’s editorial director.