BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York | I just want to eat!

Monday, January 20, 2014

BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

image of BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

I love chicken and worship fried chicken! Although it is not a dish popular in France, I tried it there, at KFC...Yes, KFC in Paris where I went a couple of times with my friends after seeing a movie. At the time, it was not as popular and widespread as it is today. I remember reading a few months ago an article in the magazine L'Express where they explained that KFC was opening its 150th restaurant in France and were planning on opening 150 more by 2017, representing a growth of 17% per year. Well, 10 years ago, they had maybe two locations! So 150? They also mentioned that the restaurants were very profitable in France, with revenue very close to Mc Donald's. I am sure that people think such a success would not be possible in a country known for its cuisine, but, each time I visit my family, I can observe the changes in the food industry, especially fast food: they are more and more popular, especially with the younger generation, but must adapt to their clientele as they can be more demanding there: think about the Mc Baguette! That is why KFC does not miss an occasion to advertise that they use only fresh poultry, real parts of the chicken and not mixed or reconstructed with leftover meat. 

But I admit that I never had KFC in the US and I am not really tempted. However, I discovered here the fried chicken and waffles as well as the wings that I enjoy from time to time, and not only during the Superbowl! So I was excited to try Bonchon. As Jodi does not like chicken, I went with my friend Benny who is a big fan of it. Bonchon is a chain with many locations in the US (the first one was in Leonia, NJ), from California to Virginia, as well as internationally in Indonesia, Philippines or Brunei. The concept though is not your regular fried chicken, but Korean fried chicken. The idea came to the founder Jinduk She who was inspired by the small fried chicken places present everywhere in Korea. He decided to call his restaurants Bonchon, that means "my hometown" in Korean.
image of BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

I was not sure what to expect as I saw the location on 32nd that looked more like a bar than a restaurant. The place was quite big, with two floors: on the first floor is the bar with couple of tables in the back, perfect if you like dining in the dark... So we went upstairs to the main dining room. The decor has nothing particular besides the multiple flat screen TVs on the walls, similar to what you would find in a...bar. 
image of BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

The menu is not only composed of chicken: you can also find seafood or beef in the form of traditional Korean dishes such as the bibimbap or the japchae (glass noodles), with very few vegetarian options.

We decided to go for the chicken and ordered a combo made of wings and drumsticks. For the sauce, we ordered a half & half that is half soy garlic sauce and half hot sauce.
image of fried chicken at BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

In term of presentation, this dish looked like any chicken dish of this sort. What made the difference was the sauce: for me, the soy and garlic sauce had nothing special, the soy giving a nice saltiness to it. However, the hot sauce was very good! It is made of red chili pepper as well as a Korean spice called "gochugaru" ( litterally "pepper powder"). It is hot; not overly hot but still, and they had the good idea to serve it with pickled radicchio (no blue cheese sauce) which was perfect to counterbalance the heat. But even spicy like that, you go back to it.
image of pickled radicchio at BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

The chicken, cooked to order, was very good: moist and perfectly cooked with this nice coating that was slightly crunchy.
image of wet tissues at BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

A nice touch at the end was to give us some wet tissues to cleanup our hands.

We also tried their bulgogi made with marinated ribeye steak.
image of ribeye bulgogi at BonChon in Midtown West, NYC, New York

I liked it: the meat was tender and the overall dish quite tasty. It was served with white rice and the quantity was perfect for sharing.

Bonchon was good. Was it the best fried chicken I had? No. If you go for the soy sauce, you will not not see much difference with lots of restaurants that propose such dish either as their main specialty or simply as an appetizer. However, what sets them apart is their hot sauce that is delicious. The other dishes we saw passing by, such as the seafood bibimbap looked appetizing, so I would not be surprised to go back there with Jodi, but to eat something other than chicken!

Enjoy (I did)!

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