I Finally Get My Kyochon… And It’s Finger Licking Good
Oh man, do I love Korean fried chicken. I mean, how could I not? (How could anybody not for that matter?) I love fried chicken. I love Korean food. Dip one into the other, and voila. Food magic! And while there are plenty of versions to sample these days, there are still two major chains that can’t be ignored: Bon Chon & Kyochon. Midtown NYC got a Bon Chon a few weeks before I moved to L.A., but I never got to try Kyochon (their Midtown location is still under construction.) Contrary to what some back East might think, I didn’t move to L.A. specifically so I could eat at Kyochon, but it sure is a nice bonus!
Hello Koreatown lunch…
The thing that struck me first about the Kyochon (on 6th St. just East of Western Ave.) is that you don’t order at a counter, they have waiter service. They also have a ton of other stuff on the menu, including sandwiches and lunchtime bento boxes. As for the chicken, there are no thighs or breasts at Kyochon, just wings and drumsticks, (unless you order the whole fried chicken for $18 , although the photo on the menu makes it look like you just get a giant plate of wings and legs.) If you must have breast meat ala carte, they do have boneless crispy rice chicken strips. No matter what body part you choose, you get your choice of two sauces (garlic soy or hot/sweet).
I’m all about variety, and the fried chicken alone is kind of pricey, so I couldn’t help but try the bento. For $8.50 you get chicken fried rice, chicken bulgogi, salad, french fries, and of course… fried chicken (four wings, or two legs.) We went with the legs, and got them with hot and sweet sauce. Besides the chicken, which after a few seconds of pleasure turns was face numbingly hot yet still completely delicious, none of it was particularly great and left me wishing I had ordered just chicken.
We couldn’t leave without trying the drumsticks (or sticks for short), and the garlic soy sauce- so we got two pieces of that (although they ended up giving us 3, possibly because the legs were super small?) At $5 for 3 small pieces of chicken it’s not what anybody would call cheap, in fact for fried chicken it’s pretty damn expensive. And it doesn’t come with anything on the side. But the more chicken you order, the cheaper it gets- so the best way to attack Kyochon is with a group. Regardless you tend to forget about price after the first bite. The garlic and soy sauce is slightly sweet and garlicky and out of control good, and creates this great sticky outer layer on the super crispy twice fried chicken. In NYC anywhere you go for Korean Fried Chicken takes forever, and according to “The Guru” so did Kyochon when they first opened up. But ours came out surprisingly quick. Did I mention that I wished we had ordered a ton of chicken?
Finally I couldn’t leave without trying the crispy rice chicken strips, but instead of ordering them plain we got a sandwich. I love how even in Koreatown, on a Korean fried chicken sandwich, they top it with avocado. It makes me wonder if there is some kind of law on the books in L.A. outlawing avocado-less chicken sandwiches. I don’t normally like breast meat, and would never chose boneless tenders when fried chicken on the bone is available (bones + skin = flavor people!) but I really liked the puffed rice coating they put on their chicken strips… and with the soy garlic sauce on top, it of course takes it to another level. But once again the other stuff got in the way. Admittedly I love me some avocado, and I couldn’t live without bread… but next time, I’ll just get an order of the chicken strips plain.
So lesson learned. Go with a bunch of people, order a ton of chicken. I think I can remember that for next time. As for which is better, Kyochon or Bon Chon, I can’t really say because I haven’t eaten at Bon Chon in L.A. and don’t know if it’s the same as the one in NYC. Plus there are plenty of others who have weighed in on that very topic… but to me it’s like comparing Popeye’s and Bojangles. Everybody has their particular favorite, but in the end they both are delicious versions of spicy fried chicken. And if somebody put a box of Popeye’s and a box of Bojangles (or Kyochon & Bon Chon) in front of me- the choice would be simple. Eat them both.
(Although if you do have a favorite Korean fried chicken place please put it in the comments. I want to try them all!)
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love Korean food. I love fried chicken. Korean Fried Chicken = Greatest invention of all time.
- I like my fried chicken sweet and spicy, and the hot/sweet sauce at Kyochon will melt your face off
- Kyochon is far better than Bon Chon
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Two pieces of fried chicken for $5? Get the fuck out of here… I don’t care how good it is.
- I hate sweet sauces on fried chicken
- The rest of the food is worthless
- I can’t believe they charge $1 for pickled radishes! It’s free at Bon Chon…
- There are so many better places for Korean fried chicken than Kyochon in Koreatown
Kyochon, 3833 W. 6th St. (btw. Serrano & Hoover), 213-739-9292