Korean fried chicken has been on my to eat list for ages and I finally managed to meet up with a friend for lunch at the newly opened Bonchon on 5th ave st only just days ago. While this particular location still seemed to be working out some kinks (three irate to-go men where fuming for over 30 minutes before their orders arrived) we fared better seated in the unfashionable black leather booths. The timelessness of the ambiance – in a karaoke joint kind of way – was further enhanced by a large screen that played videos from the past few decades from solo Nick Lashay to Lady Gaga to Sarah McLaughlan. All of this matters not to the food though, and who goes out for fried chicken to be surrounded in sophisticated elegance anyway?
The chicken is great – must be that “secret taste” they brag about on their site. We split a medium (plenty for two people with normal appetites, small for those that want to pig out) platter, white meat, half and half soy garlic and sweet spicy glaze. The difference to KFC or similar is significant. This is crispy, almost light (at least by fried food standards), with non of that face shining greasiness. This is because they remove the fatty skin before frying.
The glazes, which I worried would be sticky and overwhelming are sparingly applied and quite good – not gooey or too saccharine. I preferred what we believe was the garlic glaze and the kimchee coleslaw makes for a nice side – and that’s coming from someone who does not count herself a fan of the cold (usually bland) picnic staple.
I plan to try and compare with Kyochon, the space agey place up the street which I’ve been told does Korean fried chicken in a totally different way. While I may be very late to this culinary trend, I am happily won over by it.