Bon Chon Chicken Clucks its Way into Korea Town

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from the three Korean fried chicken restaurants between 32nd and 33rd streets.

Bon Chon Chicken, a franchise restaurant sandwiched nicely between Kyochon Chicken and Mad for Chicken on 5th Avenue near Korean row, just opened in August. The store adds to existing locations in Manhattan, Flushing, New Jersey, California, Virginia, Massachusetts, and South Korea. The new restaurant, however, strays away from the original Bon Chon image.

The solid, white walls, the shiny, black tables and the unique silhouette design point to the ubiquitous Bon Chon style. But unlike the other restaurants, the new location doesn’t keep the original splash of red to create that bright modern look. It maintains some of sleek modern look but incorporates new elements like dimmed ceiling lights, mahogany pillars, tall black tables, high brown stools and beer taps to create a jazzy bar theme.

The new Bon Chon also introduces some tech savvy. Customers can view the menu on three big monitors above the front counter. While customers wait for their orders, they are invited to sit down and watch music videos, news or sports that are projected on walls from the ceiling-mounted projectors.

The new restaurant will be serving similar dishes to the original Bon Chon. Appetizers will include zucchini fries, pot stickers, and popcorn chicken, and entrees such as bulgogi (Korean BBQ) taco, Korean scallion pancake, Pork cutlet, will be offered. Currently, the only dish available is the star of the restaurant: Korean Fried Chicken.

The Bon Chon chicken is not like Kentucky Fried Chicken. There’s plenty of garlic in the soy garlic chicken, but it is not overpowering. It balances nicely with the salty and sweetness from the soy sauce. The best feature of the Bon Chon chicken is the texture. The crunchy crust balances the moist tender meat to create a crispy, pleasant chicken.

And there is no mess. The sauce isn’t so sticky that it’s everywhere. It mainly sticks to the fingertips. And the chicken is light. No oil stains, no puddles, no splotches—just a few pieces of that crispy skin on the plate.

At Kyochon Chicken, next door, customers pay $8.99 for five wings, a side dish and beverage. Four drumsticks cost another $8.99, while they cost $7.95 in the nearby Mad for Chicken. But in Bon Chon, six wings, five pieces of white meat, or four drumsticks, mixed with either soy garlic or soy garlic hot sauce cost $6.99. The meal also includes pickled radishes, side dish and drink of their choice. Although the chicken order in Bon Chon is a great deal, the other dishes are a bit pricey. But when unique foods like bulgogi taco and zucchini fries are on the menu, it’s worth trying out.

The new Bon Chon is very welcoming. Waiters immediately greet people at the door and send their farewells to those leaving. Waiters also check often on customers sitting at tables, offering refreshments or service.

Unlike the 45-minute wait in the other Bon Chon restaurants, the new store actually finishes and delivers the order to the table in 15 minutes. Waiters make sure that everyone gets their order quickly by frequently checking in the kitchen.

The new Bon Chon went up a level. With its new looks, better service, and tasty chicken, the 32nd street Bon Chon may be better than its franchise counterparts and up for competition with the other Korean fried chicken contenders.

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