This past Saturday I was invited to the newest combatant in what some are calling the “Fried Chicken Wars.” (My friend, Hungry, was originally invited, but she couldn’t go.) The location of this war is 5th Avenue between 32nd & 33rd street. With the opening of Bon Chon, it now neighbors Kyochon and Mad for Chicken. I am a pacifist, so I like to say that these restaurants will be known as the KFC Trifecta. No, not Kentucky Friend Chicken, Korean Fried Chicken! The Colonel has nothing on this.
This was the first weekend they were open. There was a soft opening on Thursday night, but they didn’t even have their liquor license yet. It came through late Friday, so they were still waiting on some more deliveries. I met with Simon, owner/manager, and he gave me a tour of the place.
It was very sleek looking. Lots of dark wood and black. Once Simon told me his vision for the place to be a bar with really great chicken as opposed to a great chicken place that happens to serve alcohol. They have 3 projectors that show sports and music videos on the walls. It turns out some of the wood on the walls is 100 years old and was reclaimed from the Brooklyn Bridge. That is pretty cool! Another feature is that the booths are made with memory foam. The same stuff that makes pillows and mattresses so comfy.
The restaurant will have access to the courtyard in the back of the building once construction is complete. Although it is a public space, it closes at 8pm, so Bon Chon will be able to use it as their own beer garden. The courtyard has been closed for a long time now, so there is no estimate on when you can enjoy a beer and chicken sitting outside.
Onto the chicken!
I was presented with a bunch of wings and drumsticks; half soy/garlic and half soy/hot. Simon informed me that this location along with the 38th Street location are using one of the company’s newest inventions to cook the chicken in about 10 mins as opposed to the more traditional 30-40 mins. This speedup could attract a large lunch crowd, we’ll have to wait and see what the guys at Midtown Lunch, think. The chicken was super crunchy(even after sitting a little while I talked with Simon) and had great flavor. The heat on the hot wings started weak but finished strong. It was just as good as the first time I had Bon Chon a couple months ago. The pieces were pretty large. I read complaints about tiny pieces at Kyochon, which have dissuaded me from trying it myself. Although, Yvo likes their Queens location. While the flavors are the same, I think the preparation time shortening will be a big plus.
I was also given a side of their kimchi cole slaw and the traditional pickled radish. The cole slaw was nice with its mild kimchi flavor. The radish was good, not much to say about this customary side. They also offer fries, rice, plain, and cole slaw as other options for sides.
(kinda hard to get a white on white pic)
One of the menus
As I was eating, I noticed they were attracting a pretty good walk-in crowd. I guess since Bon Chon has such a great reputation worldwide, all of the tourists seeing the Empire State Building decided to stop in.
All in all, I was impressed by the operation and they seem to worked out most of the kinks early and I didn’t notice any irate customers. They have a full bottled beer selection and will have draft with a large selection of taps up soon. For those non-beer drinkers, spirits will also be available. Gotta love the chicken tap covers.
As the most recent entrant into the “war,” Bon Chon has definitely thrown down the gauntlet. Most of the combo meals are $7 where you get 5 or 6 pieces of chicken(depending on wings or drums), a side, and a drink. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Thanks to Simon and his staff for the hospitality.
As an invited guest at Bon Chon, the above meal was complimentary. However, I was not under any obligation to write a review, positive or negative, and did not receive any monetary compensation to do so. Expressed herein are my opinions and my opinions alone.