Mad For Chicken is So Not a Midtown Lunch… But Damn That is Some Good Chicken
*******THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CALLED MAD FOR CHICKEN*********
When Bon Chon opened up a few years ago in Koreatown (on 5th Ave. just south of 32nd Street), it probably never intended on being a lunchtime destination. It was meant to be an Izakaya style restaurant, made for after work and late night drinking and snacking- in this case, on their much lauded Korean fried chicken. It looks more like a night club, or fancy restaurant, than a branch of KFC- and the service is not exactly conducive to a one hour lunch break. But, after many years of hearing complaints about the lack of Korean fried chicken in the area during lunchtime hours, Bon Chon clearly decided that it was time to capitalize on their popularity. And a few months ago, they opened for lunch.
It took awhile for this unbelievably exciting news to make its way to Midtown Lunch HQ, but once it did, I rounded up a crew and headed to Koreatown for some kfc action!
So, I had heard rumors of how long it takes to get your chicken at Bon Chon, and we were all fully prepared for this lunch to last over an hour. We sat down, ordered immediately, and prepared for our 30-45 minute wait. The menu is large, but I hear they only have chicken during lunch and a few apps during lunch. Truthfully, you shouldn’t care. Chicken is what you’re there for… don’t waste your time with anything else.
Thankfully they give you free popcorn to make the wait easier. Sadly, though, it didn’t come out until the 45 minute mark. Yes… we waited 45 minutes- and that was just for the popcorn. Understandable if the restaurant was packed, but there were two tables there when we got there, and one more that came in after us. The place was relatively empty. It seemed like each table got their food about 30 minutes apart… so it’s almost as if they have one fryer, and cook each table’s order one at a time.
About fifteen minutes later we finally got our chicken, and it was well worth the wait. I mean, really really worth the wait. There are two kinds of chicken at Bon Chon: soy/garlic and spicy. I had heard the spicy was pretty spicy, and fully expected to like the soy/garlic the best (I tend to like things sweet and garlicky over spicy), but I actually ended up liking the spicy version better. Don’t get me wrong, the soy garlic was good, but didn’t have any sweetness; while the spicy version probably uses the same sauce made from Korean red chili paste that you get with bi bim bap- making it that perfect combination of sweet and spicy.
It was perfectly fried, moist on the inside, with the outside being not quite as wet as buffalo or BBQ chicken wings, but not completely dry either. It was kind of this dry, but a little sticky, perfect middle ground. It also came with pickled radish (traditional Korean condiment) and carrots and celery (hello Americatown!)
In addition to the waiting (which could be a real problem for people trying to squeeze this in on their lunch break) it’s not that cheap either. A large order of chicken, which they recommend sharing between two people, is $20.95, and if you get the “combo” I think it’s about four or five full size drumsticks, and 8-12 “wings” (which is really four to six full wings, cut in half). You can also get all wings (24) or all drumsticks (9) for the same price. We got two large combo orders for 6 people, so that it would be in the Midtown Lunch price range, and while it was enough food- a few of us probably could have eaten a few more pieces. (And by a few of us, I mean me.)
So if you have two hours to spare, and love Korean fried chicken- you have to try it at least once. After that, you can join the rest of us in waiting for Kyochon to open up a block away. People say the chicken isn’t as good, but I’m guessing it will be the cheaper, take out Korean Fried Chicken that Midtown Lunchers have truly been waiting for.
ONE FINAL NOTE: It’s a tad bit hard to find. Make sure you write down the address… it’s the door just to the left of the pizza parlor. Doesn’t say Bonchon anywhere on the door… you just have to trust it. Walk up the stairs to the second floor and you’re there!
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- If you like Asian food, and you like fried chicken, this could be the greatest fried chicken ever made in the history of the Universe (especially the spicy version)
- Free popcorn!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It takes freakin’ forever. (Even the free popcorn) But you can order for takeout, which is probably the way to go.
- The restaurant was built to be an after work drinking destination, so during the day at lunch the atmosphere is a little strange (to say the least)
- For the price, I’d rather hole up in my apartment for two days with a bucket of Popeye’s
Bon Chon, 314 5th Ave (Just south of 32nd Street), 212-221-2222