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Bon Chon Chicken - downhill alert?

Just came back from Bon Chon chicken tonight. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. Not sure if things have gone downhill or if it was an off-night but even though I waited for over 20 minutes for my chicken, it was only lukewarm. The spicy ones were not very spicy either. We also got an order of the rosemary fries which were good but also served lukewarm. Place was pretty loud and busy on a Friday night. It seems that they've expanded their menu and are serving things like sushi rolls, scallion pancakes and dduk boki (mochi cakes in a spicy sauce) -- have the option to get it with or without mozzarella cheese. Service was pretty nonexistant -- nobody ever came to check up on us aside from dropping our food off, never got a refill of water and it took DH quite some time to flag a waiter down to get more beer.

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  1. Please , Please , Miss Needle, say it's not so................ I am still trying to replicate the wings at home , To no avail, I might add. Keep us posted.

    14 Replies
    1. re: currymouth

      Currymouth, I don't make it a habit of eating fried chicken too often. So it will probably be some time before I go back. I'm hoping that those who have eaten there recently can report back. I'm hoping it's a fluke. There really is such a discernable difference from last year.

      I'm thinking that the wings were probably originally marinated in soy, garlic, sugar, rice wine, then coated with perhaps a flour/cornstarch mixture and served with a sauce of gochugaru, soy, garlic, malt syrup and gochujang (for the spicy one).

      You must have some decent Korean fried chicken places in Northern NJ.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        Not a one. Miss Needle. My niece turned me on to Bon Chon chicken on 5th Ave several months ago after she had it in LA. Noise level was a bit high for my elderly ears but the wings were great. But no rice on the menu. What gives?

        1. re: currymouth

          Well, we were definitely the oldest people there -- and I agree about the music level. Agh -- just 10 years ago, I was coming home 7-8 AM on weekends from my nights out. Now, I'm turning into an old fogie. I turn into a pumpkin at midnight!

          I did a search and found this on Jason Perlow's blog. Apparently there are a couple of Korean fried chicken joints in NJ. Maybe that can tide you over until you perfect your recipe.


          1. re: Miss Needle

            Thank you so much, Miss Needle. Now warm up some milk, kiss the cat, and fall asleep to reruns of Matlock. There's a good girl. Kidding, you know I'm just kidding. Thanks again

          2. re: currymouth

            Not sure where you are, but there's a Korean Fried Chicken place on Lemoine, in Ft. Lee, across the St. from Enterprise Rent A Car. I only have passed by while riding the bus to and home from work. Have no clue if it is any good. If you do go, please report back. Thanks!
            p.s. after posting I just read Miss Needles link - it has all the info you need!

        2. re: currymouth

          Having never been to Bon Chon, I have no idea how they do their chicken, but from Miss Needle's description maybe you can try this recipe:


          It can be used with any cut/piece of chicken.
          There is also a sesame version if you are interested.

          1. re: hannaone

            Looks and sounds great, I will try it on Sunday, Have guests coming over. Thanks hannaone

            1. re: hannaone

              Thanks again for the recipe, Tried it yesterday, I did double up on the garlic and ginger,There was young ginger at the Asian grocery and I like to make home made pickled ginger when availible, and also added a couple squeezes of sriracha. Hope you don't mind, It was a big hit and went well with a Thai tofu salad recipe I picked up from the Times several years ago.Michele Cindy, I don't get up there very much anymore but it's worth it to do some food shopping at Mitsuwa, and then check out the chicken joint, I'll will report back. The quest continues.

              1. re: currymouth

                Glad you liked it.
                Korean recipes are all about "making them your own" so any changes/additions that work well are definitely ok.
                And sriracha is a universal condiment that works with just about anything.

                1. re: hannaone

                  In passing, Do you have a simple, tasty recipe for oyster/ scallion pancake. I have tried it several times and is lucky enough to have a Korean grocery near by, For what ever reason, I can't seem to get the same results as my favorite places.What am I doing wrong?

                  1. re: currymouth

                    I'm sure hannone's got a recipe there somewhere and will have something to give you.

                    Are you using a 100% flour recipe? A lot of restaurants use rice flour and wheat flour. That's where the crispy - chewiness comes from. The rice flour makes a huge difference in texture, IMHO.

                      1. re: hannaone

                        Off next weekend and looking forward to trying it. Thanks.

            2. Haven't been in six months to a year, but the 20-minute-plus wait and the expanded menu were part of the deal then, too. I usually order carryout and wait at the bar over a drink, so lukewarmth hasn't been a factor.

              But the spicy was always spicy enough and service surprisingly good, even when it was crazy busy, so maybe there has been some slippage.

              1 Reply
              1. re: squid kun

                I was really surprised that it was lukewarm because I waited 20 minutes. I would have expected that it would have been made to order. Apparently not. And the spice level was definitely low -- not anywhere near what it's usually at. And this was indeed the worst service I've ever received. I don't think it has anything to do with it being crowded or being understaffed because I saw quite a few of them just standing around doing nothing.

              2. ya service is always bad there, not sure what would prompt good service unless you ordered a bottle of johnny or something. but koreans and their cheese, it's pretty funny to see american cheese in some kimbop. but really, the best add-on when making fried rice at home is small cubes of swiss or muenster; it gets melt-y but the parts of the cheese which come into contact w/ the pan and form a nice crust, yum! that is my absolute secret add-on to fried rice. try it ya'll!

                1. Went to Bon Chon for the first time last night. Having read this downhill alert, I was wary. But I’d wanted to try it for a long time, so I just prepared myself for service problems. There were none. At All.

                  My friend and I arrived at 6:35 and were seated immediately. We were still perusing the liquor menu, laughing at how much the drink offerings were a reflection of the age of the crowd, when the waitress brought water. We asked her a couple of questions and, thinking we’d have a long wait for food, decided to order right away. Our large soju arrived almost immediately and the rosemary fries not long thereafter. The roof of my mouth still has a tender spot where I burned it eating the first fry. They were so hot, we had to wait a bit for them to cool down. Less than five minutes later, the chicken arrived. Also hot, although it did cool down rather quickly. Didn’t matter. It was still crunchy and delicious and just about the best fried chicken I’d ever had. My friend likes spicy food, but not as spicy as I. He had a couple of pieces of the spicy chicken but said it was really too hot for him. So he concentrated on the soy/garlic and I had most of the spicy chicken to myself. At some point the waitress came and replaced the bone bucket. There was always someone hovering by the door, checking to see that no one in our room needed anything. A raised finger would summon someone to the table right away.

                  My friend asked for the check while they were clearing the plates, still thinking it might take a while to get it. It came almost too quickly. My friend decided he really wasn’t ready to leave yet and ordered another soju. We just sat and drank and talked and a waiter and waitress kept bringing us amuses and bar noshes. By the time we were ready to leave, probably three hours later, the revised check was at our table as soon as we asked for it.

                  The food was great. The service couldn’t have been better. Did we just get lucky? If so, I sure hope we stay lucky. Maybe 6:30 is a good time to get there?

                  By the way, what was the dish that seemed to be on every table but ours? The woman next to me said it was rice cakes. Is that the dduk boki you mentioned?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: JoanN

                    I would say that is rare or they revamped their operations which seems unlikely.
                    I have been there with Koreans and non, and everything has taken quite awhile, every time.
                    Lucky you and maybe that is their new standard operating procedure.
                    That spicy version can be very hot, even for spice nuts.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      "By the way, what was the dish that seemed to be on every table but ours? The woman next to me said it was rice cakes. Is that the dduk boki you mentioned?"

                      They certainly sound like ddok boki, especially if it was covered in a spicy looking red sauce. But I don't remember that dish being especially prevalent on the tables. I'm trying to remember if they gave out some simple banchan with our wings, and that perhaps you didn't receive it.

                      ETA: Reading bigjeff's post below, perhaps you're talking about those yellow daikon pickles (dack-kwang).

                        1. re: thew

                          I know a lot of people like dduk boki -- just not my thing. But mochi is generally not high on my list either. But I'll try to make it a point of trying it one day. Thanks.

                    2. All korean fried chicken places that I have been to takes about 20 minutes for the chicken to arrive.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: williamsonoma

                        Yes, I'm aware of the 20 minutes. It's because they generally fry your batch to order. The reason why I stated that I waited so long was that my batch was old, in spite of the fact that I had to wait.

                      2. was there 2 weeks ago. food was fine. service was a little slow, but not outrageously so.

                        1. btw, the furikake fried rice with the fish roe is really good. simple, but good. the rosemary fries were pretty good, but basically, its fries with dried rosemary sprinkled on. but the spicy mayo is really really good. the fries with cheese is the same fries with dried rosemary, along with 4 or 5 slices of american cheese barely melted on top. not good.

                          and, what's up with the chemical taste in the daikon pickles? tasted like nutrasweet or something.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bigjeff

                            If you're talking about the yellow daikon pickles, I'm not surprised if they use non sugar. I hate those things so I don't eat them. But I do know that stevia is used in some Japanese pickles. While stevia is natural and not a chemical, there's some bitter undertone to it.

                          2. Waiting time - the 20 minute thing is normal b/c they fry to order (a good thing in my mind) although normally they tell u that it's going to take 20-30 minutes
                            Service - the service at that place is awful and always has been
                            Spiciness - the spicy ones are never very spicy, im not sure why, but i found the same thing
                            Other food - i dont really like any of their other food, i had the fries before and thought they were whatever

                            All that said, they do have the best korean fried chicken in the city (the other one downtown and bbq on st marks are not as good), I've had better before, but these are pretty decent and i really like korean fried chicken so it does the job. Although like you said I can't eat it all the time

                            1. Went to Bon Chon for the first time ever on Jan. 2 (5th Ave. Loc) based on the raves I've seen on this board. Going there is a strange experience. Odd music. Menu seems a little strange. But the chicken was first rate. Spicey. Hot out of the fryer. Nice meaty pieces. If it's heading downhill you coulda fooled me.

                              1. hey all,

                                there is a Kyo-Chon coming that will be right across the street (It will take over the old Brooklyn Bagel Cafe, which was a horrible deli). Ground floor, and hopefully will kick Bon-Chon's ass (or at least provide some good competition). Kyo-Chon is real good in flushing and, should allow you to eat fried chicken in the light of day (although I guess in Bon-Chon's case, what with the extremely dark bar and club setting, you might prefer to indulge in relative darkness). Exciting!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  Agree Kyo-chon is excellent in Flushing. Not great for the waistline but so addictive...:)

                                2. Miss Needle.
                                  Took some friends to Bon Chon on 5'th ave last night around 6pm, and I must say ,the service was much better, They got rid of those silly little club tables and stools and replaced them with proper tables and chairs. The music volume was manageable, But above all, the chicken was much better than my last 2 visits. Hot ,Juicy, with much better seasoning, the spicy was actually spicy last night. My friends liked it so much we ordered another platter and it too showed up in 20 Mins.We left about 8.45 and there was 30 people waiting at the bar and the top of the stairs. You just may want to give it another shot.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: currymouth

                                    Bon Chon on Chambers ,,is small ,,but no wait ever,,, the chicken is really good. There's a korean fried chicken place on 32nd st ,,on 2nd or 3rd floor ,,big bar lots of koreans in their 20s, loud music,, but the food was good, including meat, noodles and more ,,and of course friend chicken ,,, not sure if that was a Bon Chon also,,i didnt see any name

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      That's the one I go to, The name? "R" I think but as I posted , They lowered the volume. Amen..........

                                      1. re: currymouth

                                        Ahhhhhh ,,,, thanks.... now im gettin hungry

                                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                                        bon chon is on th 2nd floor, on 5th Ave at 32nd street. sounds like the place you describe.

                                        1. re: thew

                                          That's the one! I will be trying the branch in the Fort Lee area next Friday, It's more of a Fast food place as opposed to a bar serving Bon Chon chicken, and I hear that their menu is quite a bit more extensive.

                                        2. re: foodwhisperer

                                          I wonder if you're talking about BBNY (a.k.a. Baden Baden New York), a second-floor place with very good chicken, double-fried, but a different style from Bon Chon etc. It also has a good-sized bar, as you describe, and quite good service, (If you came up the stairs, you would've seen BBNY on the door. If you came up the elevator you wouldn't have seen a sign.)

                                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                                            The place on Chambers is Bon Bon, not Bon Chon. They are not the same restaurant.

                                            1. re: kobetobiko

                                              the place on chambers is bon chon,,, i pass it everyday and have eaten there several times. I believe it used to be Bon Bon,,It's at 95 chambers

                                          2. re: currymouth

                                            Thanks currymouth for your report. Yeah, the music has been a bit too loud for my taste. Glad to hear they toned it down a bit. But good news about the chicken. I actually tried making it at home. The sauce came out fine, but I haven't quite honed the Korean method of double-frying the chicken. After the humongous mess I made, I think I'd rather just go to Bon Chon.