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Jun 25, 2014 12:13 PM

Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken opening in Chinatown...

Cafe Soho has been my go-to spot for Korean fried chicken for quite a while, but it would be great to have another convenient spot downtown. I've heard good things about Bonchon from friends in NYC and Northern VA.

Anyone have any experience with Bonchon?
The article said opening this fall anyone hear anything more firm for a date?

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  1. Really? Wow. Awesome.

    <Anyone have any experience with Bonchon?>

    Yeah. I have been to Bonchon and Boom Boom. I like both places.

    Bonchon is big. It is actually a South Korean franchise. In other words, you can bet its fried chicken represent what you would really get in Korea.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I have been to Bon Chon in NYC. Best $10 lunch in Manhattan (slightly more if you take advantage of the full bar!)

      1. re: MainLiner

        <Best $10 lunch in Manhattan>

        You mean everything else costs a lot in Manhattan?

        I walked by Chinatown and saw the sign (not my photo):

        I don't know how *soon* it will open though. Looking forward to have some Korean fried chicken in Philly.

        Edited: Just saw this photo:

        If this is the location -- next to General Restaurant Supply, then it may be quick. This area is all cleanup now, and the boards have been removed. I thought they were going to put a bank or something with a lot of large glass windows.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Lunch at "21" can get a little pricey. Of course, there's always the two plain slab and coke deal. Bon Chon is kind of a bargain.

    2. I've eaten at at least 2 of the north jersey (where bonchon first landed) locations; pretty great, and has basically informed me of how krnfc should be. Cafe Soho is pretty good; a UC korean/japanese restaurant called U-Town at 40th and Sansom also does alright here (not as good as Cafe Soho but good enough considering how much more convenient it is; I only rec their soy garlic/ginger (whichever they go for) style, though, I'm not a fan of the other). BTW I think the krnfc at Serpico is terrible; oversauced and tacky in a bad way. Recently I discovered that Koreana at 38th and Ludlow also has krnfc; I haven't tried them yet. The pictures on the website are quite promising imo. Hm, so you can get as little as 6 wings from koreana, this is good considering one of the challenges of cafe soho/u-town is that you have to commit to 18/20 pieces as a time, which is difficult for one person however delicious they are. Still miss Bonchon's leg drumsticks, though, a format I enjoy.


      9 Replies
      1. re: lepidoptery


        Who know.....I walked by just Sunday. It is still not open. The sign is up, but newspaper are all over the doors and windows... It claims it is a matter of inspection delays.

        "Our building is brand new, therefore, it has caused delays with inspections. "

        The problem is not that it is open late. The problem is that it never says when it will open only "Very soon, very soon...etc." Dude, you have been saying very soon for more than 6 months.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Can't believe they were going through the hiring process back in fall... all the ppl who might have tried to work for them would surely have had to look for other opportunities by now, right? Have they been continuing to interview ppl or what? (... maybe I should try to get a job there, hah....)

          1. re: lepidoptery

            If anyone has ever had to deal with Philadelphia Licensing and Inspections, this unfortunately should not surprise you. Look forward to trying them.

            1. re: cwdonald

              I understand how awful city offices can be to deal with- I just think maybe the franchise owner has jumped the gun on his publicity a few too many times. Don't get me wrong, I'm still excited to try it and looking forward to having more convenient chicken. I'm just much less excited about it than I was when I first heard they were coming to town, then heard opening soon, then heard delayed, then heard opening soon... and so on.

              1. re: carnicero

                <franchise owner has jumped the gun on his publicity a few too many times.>

                I absolutely agree. Managing expectation is very important. You want to hype it up. You want to grab attention. But if you do it too early, then it will backfire.

                <I'm just much less excited >

                Yeah. I am not very excited now.

            2. re: lepidoptery

              Looking at some related topics, I am reminded that FedNuts is supposedly krnfc as well. Uh... the hell it is. Maybe there is some double-frying involved but it bears scant resemblance to krnfc. (Evaluated on its own merits, not objectively terrible except for the white meat.)

              1. re: lepidoptery

                I don't think FedNuts claims to be krnfc, just inspired by it. I agree, it isn't the same, but it's delicious in it's unique way (I'm with you on the white meat though). I'm not so fond of the glazes, but the za'atar is terrific.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  I agree, some of the dry seasonings were tasty. I think I've had the ranch. :9

                2. re: lepidoptery

                  Chick-A-Licious on 11th St does KrnFC as well, it's pretty good tho I only had it once.

          2. According to Michael Klein, it's opening tomorrow with a soft opening today.


            6 Replies
            1. re: bumble

              Somehow I am just not very excited about it anymore.

              Anyway, thanks for the update. Much appreciated.

              1. re: bumble

                Thanks! Bah, but it will be so cold tomorrow. Maybe I'll go next week, unless the meteorologists got it wrong again.

                EDIT: pfft, that article. First US bonchon location was NJ, not NYC, and choosing to mention Fednuts as legit korean fried chicken over UTown (or Koreana)? Unimpressed.

                1. re: lepidoptery

                  I wonder if they decide to open the store during Chinese New Year (Feb 19th this year) -- just in hope to get a bit more traffic.

                2. re: bumble

                  Interesting. Being a somewhat healthy-eater (don't stone me), I find it hard to believe that each bonchon wing is about 145 calories...according to unofficial online sites. So, for the small size of wings, we're talking a 1450-calorie meal, and that does not include the bevy of sides? That sounds too depressing to contemplate.

                  1. re: dndicicco

                    Unofficial online sites? You don't trust their own nutrition info? XD

                    IMO there isn't really much need to order additional sides, and the pickled turnip won't really add to the calorie count much. (Though of course they do offer them... so of course they are for ordering, but....) Actually the website won't load for me right now but I actually don't remember the calorie count seeming that high for one to become full.

                    EDIT: nvm, checked kfc for "regular" fried chicken wings. Huh.

                    1. re: lepidoptery

                      bonchon website back up (assuming it was actually down); wings are 150ish and drums are 250ish. I suppose I never thought it was that excessive because I'm full on 3 drumsticks, which I prefer to wings. Though if I *must* consume the rest of it, that's not a huuuuuge problem either. krnfc crisps up reasonably well in the oven, though, if one has leftovers.

                3. I went today. Yes, I know. I said I am not excited, but I was in that area anyway. What a snow day. My car almost got stuck and couldn't get out of the area.

                  Anyway, a few things. The place is nothing like other Boom Boom or Bonchon. Most other stores are kind of like KFC. This one looks like a nightclub with tables and bar and music and color lighting. Also they hire many attractive young ladies as staffs. There wasn't one unattractive person there. I think it is meant to be kind of like Tea Do, Tango, Yakitori Boy-ish place -- a cool place to hang.

                  I ordered two fried chicken combo for take out. I think the place is really new and I can tell that they are trying to be super nice but also do not have everything ready. For example, they seem a bit unorganized in taking the "Take out" order and a bit confusion in using the register. They also told me something very surprising too: "Your order will be ready in 1 hour.". It actually took me 2 seconds to register that, and then I asked "What? Did you say 1 hour?" She said "Well, sometime between 45 min to 1 hour". Just to let you know this is very long compared to all the other Bonchon and Boom Boom I have gone to.

                  I then say ok. I will go to somewhere else to have dinner and wait, and they can call me when the chicken ready. I went to Ocean Harbor for a small dinner -- hair seaweed with conpoy (because I have already eaten at Carmen's Famous Italian Hoagies a hour earlier)

                  Then, not too surprising, they call me 25 min after and told me the chicken is ready, and I had to cut my Ocean Harbor dinner short and took most of the meal in a doggie bag, which I actually did not mind.

                  The point is that it was a bit chaotic, but the staffs were friendly, so I think there is much room to improve.

                  As for the fried chicken, it was just like any other Bonchon and Boom Boom I guess.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Chicken like usual's good enough for me. Maybe I'll wait for them to settle down a bit, check out koreana and chickalicious first....

                  2. Even though my excitement had waned in all of the opening delays and false starts, I had a craving last night and tried Bonchon after work. They are not doing take-out orders over the phone yet, they say to control high demand, and are only doing eat-in or walk-in take-out orders.

                    I was greeted by friendly staff at the door and they gave me a menu and took my order. They said 30 minutes for pickup, and I could wait or they would call my cell phone when it was ready. I opted for the phone call and walked around the corner for BarLy for a late happy hour beer. After about 35 minutes with no call, I walked back to Bonchon. The hostess recognized me and apologized for my food not being ready, then went back in the kitchen to check on it. I ended up waiting 10-15 more minutes, but having a friendly talk with a guy at the counter who I believe was a manager or maybe one of the franchise owners. So, my total wait was 50 minutes rather than 30, but the staff was very gracious and I didn't much mind the delay.

                    After getting home, we dug into half-and-half wings, the seasoned fries, kimchi, kimchi coleslaw, and pickled radishes. The wings were very good, but maybe not quite as crispy as wings I've enjoyed from Cafe Soho. The spicy sauce was excellent, but the soy garlic was just ok. Sides were all really good. So all in all, I can't say whether or not it lived up to the hype, as I think they are still going through growing pains from opening. The food and service were really good, though, and I'll definitely try them again.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: carnicero

                      <they say to control high demand>

                      It is also possible that they don't have the capacity with the delay opening and all -- not sufficient staffs.

                      < I ended up waiting 10-15 more minutes...So, my total wait was 50 minutes rather than 30>

                      Interesting. I was actually told to wait for an hour and ended up waiting for 35 min By the way, most other places I have been to is 15-20 min.

                      <The spicy sauce was excellent, but the soy garlic was just ok. >

                      :) Maybe it is just me. I enjoyed the soy garlic more. However, I honestly cannot say this particular Bonchon is any better than the other Bonchon or Boom Boom. I don't think the fried chicken will get much "better". It is a franchise. It follows a protocol.

                      <The food and service were really good, though>

                      See, this is the part you and I may not agree. I think it depends how you define "service". If we are talking if they are polite and nice, then yes, they are nice and polite. If we are talking about efficiency of taking my order and producing my take-out fried chicken, then I would say no. Telling people that they cannot take "phone in" order and that walk-in take-out orders take 1 hour are not signs of good service. To me, it is like calling a service help desk, the other person over the phone is nice, but at the end, he/she took 2 hour to solve a simple computer problem. Is that a good service?

                      By the way, I will definitely go back, possibly this weekend. It is just that I won't say it was a good service experience.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        While yes, they are a franchise and follow the protocol, I do think the chicken can get better with time. It's possible that due to their opening delays and staffing issues, their fry cooks may not have the recipe totally nailed yet. Some of that comes with time and practice managing their order volume and training. The guy I talked to (Manager? Franchisee?) told me that they order the sauce from Korea, so that won't change. However, the cook times and crispness of the chicken are in the hands of the kitchen crew and that can certainly change.

                        I agree with you that their ordering policy and wait time don't exemplify customer service, but the attitudes of the staff go a long way to make up for it. I've had quick but surly service at other places and been less happy with the resulting meal. Had the staff at Bonchon not been polite and friendly, I wouldn't be likely to go back after the inconvenience of not being able to call in my order and then having to wait extra time for it. Since they were so nice and made me feel like they valued my business, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for opening hiccups.