Editor's note: In "Fast Food International," Krista Garcia will take us around New York to the many international fast food chains that have landed in the five boroughs. She blogs at goodiesfirst.com.
Country of origin: South Korea
NYC locations: four, give or take
Even though the 2007 Korean fried chicken boom has since given way to Southern-style mania, the extra-crispy Asian version is still thriving—and expanding. Newcomer Kyochon has been moving in on Bon Chon's territory, but the latter is more firmly established in New York City. If only we could keep track of which locations are official or not.
Once relegated to Flushing and Manhattan's Koreatown, Bon Chon spread its wings to the Financial District and a Staten Island strip mall (where it was disavowed by the parent company in March). Similarly, a few franchisees went rogue and now go by Mad For Chicken. Just this weekend, Bon Chon announced that they were no longer affiliated with the Chambers Street location because the branch wasn't serving the approved sauce.
What isn't negligible is the appeal of this chicken. Coated in a cornstarch and flour blend and double-fried, the thick, crackly skin takes on a life of its own. One bite reveals an air pocket between the substantial outer shell and moist meat.
The sticky, soy and garlic variety is irresistible, though the spicy wings and drumsticks amped with gochujang and tempered with a touch of honey are even better. Who needs tangy, one note buffalo wings? Just don't ignore the side of pickled white radish cubes; their sweet-tart crunch is refreshing.
No one will fault you for choosing fries as your side (though picking the dinner roll is just strange), but the fiery kimchi coleslaw's rawness provides more balance. And unless you're a curiosity seeker, the rest of the menu can be safely ignored. Calamari are frozen rings that are more about the breading than the seafood, and Korean tacos--flour tortillas wrapped around shredded beef and kimchi coleslaw--would probably be more snackable after a few pitchers of Killian's Red, Bon Chon customers' beer of choice.
Various locations throughout Manhattan
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