A new restaurant has made its debut in the Boston area — but you can’t walk inside. Virtual or “ghost” restaurant Nani Chick’n Bunz (stylized as NANI?! Chick’n Bunz) specializes in 24-hour shoyu-marinated karaage chicken sandwiches served on Japanese sweet buns.
Though it’s connected to actual restaurants — in the family of Love Art Sushi, Love Art Udon, and the forthcoming Love Art Poke and Poke by Love Art — Nani Chick’n Bunz currently runs its delivery-only service through Uber Eats, adding to a below-the-radar network of similar operations in the metro Boston area.
Delivery-only restaurants have been on the rise for a few years now, especially in cities like New York City and San Francisco. Locally, Cambridge’s Puritan & Co. runs a similar system with its spinoff Puritan Trading Co. (which, incidentally, also serves fried chicken sandwiches, among other dishes). Likewise, the delivery-only Wow Wings, which focuses on Korean fried chicken, is connected to the physical Ginger Exchange restaurants in Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown.
The latest to join the mix, Nani Chick’n Bunz serves three styles of fried chicken sandwiches: a classic with pickled veggies and a spicy aioli; a k-style version with pickled veg, shiitake mushrooms, kimchi, and gochujang; and an okonomi version with pickled ginger, bonito flakes, nori furikake, and a mix of okonomi and kewpie mayo. These treatments are also available for sandwiches with shrimp tempura, spam, and sweet potato tempura instead of fried chicken.
Nani Chick’n Bunz also has a smattering of chips and other snacks available for order, including some special chip flavors, such as Thai pepper chicken Doritos and Lay’s spicy crab deep ridged chips, both from Taiwan, and other Asian market favorites, such as Hello Panda cookies, Hi-Chew candy, and wasabi peas.
Now that the virtual restaurant is live, as of July 5, Nani Chick’n Bunz is also diving into pop-ups, beginning with its first at the Mighty Squirrel brewery (411 Waverly Oaks Rd., Waltham) on July 18. It will share more details on future pop-ups on social media.