Bon Chon Chicken (32nd and 5th)
I felt compelled to start a new thread on Bon Chon chicken, since there's a prominent thread whose title is trumpeting its poor service. We've been to Bon Chon twice in the past two weeks, and their lunchtime service has been great. They do warn you that the chicken takes a little time to cook, but aside from the short wait they're attentive and friendly
We've only tried the fried chicken, but they do offer other options on their menu. The chicken itself is fried to order--you can order drumsticks, wings, or a combination of both. The two flavoring options are soy garlic and spicy. The soy garlic is a little on the sweet side, but phenomenal overall. The skin is crispy but not greasy, and the meat beneath is tender and juicy. The chicken comes with a side of pickled daikon radish cubes and a cabbage salad with a spicy (chipotle?) mayo.
I've hesitated to order their chicken for delivery, fearing that the fried skin might get soggy in transit. Has anyone tried ordering in?
I'd been hearing people talk about it since the NY Times story a few weeks ago, so I finally went there this afternoon for lunch with a couple friends. Here's my take on it for the benefit of others who haven't been there...
I knew it was on the second floor, so I was expecting a non-descript side door to get in. It was definitely non-descript - and totally sketchy. There was a hand-written sign next to the elevator that said, "Elevator was broken, use stairs. Bon Chon Chicken." I walked down the hall to the dark stairway with a broken first step and wondered exactly where the hell I was going. The second floor landing was unlit, all that was there was a single, unmarked door. I had no idea if this was the right place and sort of wondered what sort of hole it was going to be.
When I opened the door, the contrast couldn't have been more stark. There is a long shiny bar directly across from the door. The decor is industrial chic, looking more like it belongs in a giant loft space rather than a shabby office building. The walls are exposed brick and faux poured concrete. Iron work and plate glass divides the space and colored flourescent lights hide in crevices in the walls and ceilings.
The menu itself is very simple. At least the one that mattered. The chicken menu was a glossy postcard with photos of the food and a list of how it's served in English and Korean. The other menu had drinks and other dishes. We pretty much ignored that. Our waiter, seemingly the only one working there, was a young guy who sauntered over after a bit to see what we wanted. I had heard that the service was not so great and that the food took forever to show, but we had no problems at all with the 'relaxed' pace of things. The food showed up within 10 minutes, which was more than acceptable.
The chicken comes in large or medium sizes of wings, drumsticks, breast strips or the special, which is a little bit of everything. We ordered mediums in spicy and soy garlic.
First off, the medium is huge, a mountain crispy goodness. And I mean crispy. The breading was like a hard shell coating the meat with herbs and spices. I started with the spicy chicken which started hot and just got hotter after each bite. It wasn't numb your tongue hot, but I think it may have ruined my palate for the more subtle flavors of the soy garlic.
The texture is the most memorable part, though. Every bite had a gratifying crunch that resonated in my mouth. As we made our way through our piles, we all realized that we had gotten way too much food. Any reasonable person could have split a medium with someone else. Maybe we should have split two mediums between the three of us. I don't think I want to know what a large looks like, although I will be dreaming about it tonight.
I've actually eaten there and had it delivered. It was fantastic both times, and even though I was afraid that the chicken wouldn't be as good when delivered, it was still awesome. Delivery did take around 75 minutes, although they told me that when I called so I wasn't unpleasantly surprised. Considering it took 50 minutes to get my chicken when I was actually at the restaurant, it might actually be a better deal.