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Fried Chicken Bender (Pt. 3): Bonchon

Bonchon's new location in Northwest Columbus
As I have mentioned in a previous post about the Ajumama food truck, Korean cuisine was something I just didn't pursue too much when I was living in San Francisco. There really was no good reason for it except I just didn't. That also probably explains why I never even attempted to pursue the dish that local Bay Area food-oriented types seemed to be always on the look out for in the years before I left for the Buckeye state: Korean Fried Chicken, often referred to informally as "KFC."

Since I have moved to Columbus, my pursuit as well as appreciation of the cuisine has slowly and steadily increased. My spouse and I have both started exploring the local scene and cooking up some Korean dishes at home (my spouse inadvertently created the absolute most tongue-burning Korean-style beef and regularly mixes up a homemade kimchi for consumption at dinner.)

I had seen signs announcing the opening of a restaurant up in the highly-retail-oriented area of Northwest Columbus at Sawmill and State Route 161. I took note of this what appeared to be a Korean-oriented eatery but didn't pay it much mind at the time; little did I know it was going to be the newest location of Bonchon, an internationally reknowned purveyor of a fried treat known in Korea as Yangnyeom Tongdak, or what most state-siders refer to as Korean Fried Chicken or "KFC."

The Korean style of preparing fried chicken results basically is a twice-frying/twice-flavoring affair. Twice-frying the pieces gives the bird an eminently crackly crust, while the twice-flavoring (usually done via marinading or a dry rub on the bird before frying followed by a coating of the finished pieces in sauce) gives the bird a unique blend of flavor profiles.

Well, geez, we can't let this opportunity go to waste, can we?

Bonchon's interior space is dominated by red and black tones and
reminders of their global and major media reach
Founded in 2002 in South Korea, Bonchon has expanded internationally with numerous locations throughout Asia, with additional franchises in Bahrain and the United States (the first location was opened in Fort Lee, New Jersey in 2006) and much notice in numerous media outlets throughout the world. The new Columbus location is now one of 30+ franchises within this country.

Bonchon has transformed the interior of the former Asian Go home into a cool, clean but not overly busy space dominated by red and black color tones. The large mural displaying famous landmarks and the city names where Bonchon franchises reside is perhaps the most prominent outward display of its worldwide recognition factor for visiting diners.

Yes, the chicken is good: for us, we got as much pleasure from the sensation of the biting into that crackly thin skin as much as the taste of the chicken. I am betting there are better versions of Korean Chicken out there, but Bonchon's wings have set a pretty nice control score for future explorations. Being the spiceheads that we have evolved into, we did slightly prefer their Spicy over their Soy Garlic wings, but we found them both quite delicious.

Bonchon offers select draft beer and other Asian/Korean standards
like Bibimbap, but their fried chicken is the star of the show
After tasting how good the chicken was, Bonchon's other mains in my almost seem relegated to side dishes in my mind. We did sample their Bulgogi Bibimbap, which I thought could've used a little more bulgogi in the mix; it did have plenty of rice for diners to balance their protein intake with a starch. Other Korean and Asian standards available on their menu include Japchae, Tteokbokki (a stir-fried dish combining cakes of both rice and fish with glass noodles, onions and Korean red pepper sauce) and Takoyaki (octopus balls, familiar to fans of Columbus' Freshstreet.)  The actual advertised side dishes, including the pickled daikon radish and kimchee coleslaw provide a tangy-enough change-of-pace for diners' palates.

Beverage offerings are a fairly standard-issue affair, with the usual pop choices and a small draft beer list, including Columbus Brewing's base-model IPA, available.

In an experiment, I wanted to see if that textural experience with the regular chicken would translate over to their chicken strips. Based on this sampling, the flavor profiles match up, but I found that unique crackly texture found in their regular chicken only spottily duplicated on the strips.

3586 W Dublin-Granville Rd. (Northwest)
Columbus, OH 43235
(614) 389-4026
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1 comment:

  1. I'm so rarely in that area, but it is a place I will get to soon.