The Tale Of The Two Downtown Bon Chons

It came out last week that the Bon Chon Chicken location on Chambers St. had been cast out by the company for using unapproved sauces. This leaves the larger John St. location as the only one downtown, and that might be for the best based on my experiences at both locations last week. The Chambers location was still called Bon Chon and prices and everything seemed the same. I decided it might be worth a look at what they’re serving there since that location has never gotten an ML review, and I also revisited the John St. location for some head-to-head Korean fried chicken comparison.

The Chambers location hasn’t been reviewed before, and I haven’t eaten here, so I don’t really have a frame of reference for whether anything is different. A couple of people remarked to me that it’s gone downhill since opening, and the day I was there it just had an air of defeat and a bunch of customers impatiently waiting for food at prime lunch time, with one girl acting as the entire counter staff in charge of both taking and dispensing orders.There were no signs up informing customers that they are no longer an official Bon Chon location.

I placed my order (the taking of which was delayed by a guy complaining about how long he’d been waiting) of a small wings/drumstick combo with rice ($8). I was pretty hungry, but there was no way I was paying $4 for fries, which would have put me at $12. Unlike the other location, your side choices are limited to rice or roll, and you also don’t get the pickled radish with it. I chose soy garlic as my sauce to give my poor mouth a break after scalding it with piping hot pasta. And then I waited, but only for about 15 minutes.

The chicken was freshly-cooked and crispy delicious. Instead of getting all wings and one drumstick, I instead was given a box of half drumsticks, half wings and one gigantic drummie. The sauce was pretty frickin’ good, so if they’re using a different one, at least they did a good job with it.

A couple of days later I went to the larger, boozier location on John St. to compare the approved and unapproved sauces. There was quite a difference, in that there were a lot of people waiting, but they weren’t angry and there were two people behind the counter taking orders, plus a couple of guys in charge of bagging and dispersing them. It took a little longer to get my chicken, but with music playing and one of the cashiers apologizing for the wait, it wasn’t so bad.

One difference I noticed immediately was that this chicken came in a bag and box emblazoned with the Bon Chon logo. The one on Chambers was using plain paper bags and plain white boxes. There was the same amount of chicken, but it was cheaper at $7.

The chicken was freshly fried, but one thing I noticed was that it was either greasier or had more sauce. And the sauce wasn’t as garlicky as the unapproved kind being used at the Chambers location. The nice thing here is that you not only get to choose a side other than rice or a roll for no extra charge, but you also get the free pickled radish to stink up your office.

I’ll try to keep tabs on what happens with the location on Chambers. At this point I would have to recommend the John St. location because it’s cheaper and they give you more choices for sides. The chicken at the Chambers location was still pretty good, if you’re willing to wait for it.

Bon Chon Chicken, 104 John St. (btw. Cliff & Pearl), (646) 682-7747

Imposter Bon Chon Chicken, 98 Chambers St. (btw. Broadway & Church), (212) 227-2375


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