Bon Chon Chicken

6653 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA  22003
Bon Chon Chicken on Urbanspoon

There are very few restaurant chains that I would think about writing a blog post for (I've been meaning to write about Five Guys for a while now) simply because I don't really enjoy the food from many chains.  Bon Chon Chicken is a welcome exception.  Bon Chon is a Korean friend chicken chain that has migrated to the United States with a few locations on the east coast that are mainly around New York City.  Over the years, I've heard quite a bit about the goodness that is Korean fried chicken (heck, even David Chang at MomoFuku Noodle Bar offers a version of it though you have to order it 24 hours in advance) and combined with my extreme penchant for fried chicken, I was really looking forward to lunch at Bon Chon.

Bon Chon is located in a tiny strip mall in Annandale, VA which is kind of in-between any of the towns you'd think would have good food in the Northern Virginia area.  I think I was expecting something slicker in presentation like a regular fast food chain but when you walk in, it's table service and the interior could be any sports bar in the country.  There were flat screen TVs, a fully stocked bar and the promise of chicken wings everywhere.  My guess is that you really only buy the franchise name, signage and chicken and the rest is up to you.  Upon looking that the menu, you'l quickly see that this is more than just a chicken place.  They also serve a full slate of Korean staples such as BoolGoki (which I think I usually see as Bulgogi), Kimchi, and, of course, french fries.  It looked pretty tempting and the menu did remind me of some of the places in Koreatown in NYC but I was here for the chicken.

I had to ask the waitress what to order since the menu is a little confusing.  On the right side, it looks like they're offering chicken for groups and on top of the left side of the menu, it seems that you have a choice of a large and medium order of chicken.  You can choose from all wings, all drumsticks or a mix of both.  I chose to order a mix of both (8 wings, 3 drumsticks) and to have a mix of both the soy-garlic sauce and the hot sauce.  The portion size seemed really large to me and I was expecting to take some home.  They brought the chicken out with a side of pickled radish chunks which should have been an indication to me about what they meant as a hot sauce.  I'm not 100% clear on how Korean fried chicken is different from the United States variety but the cooking process doesn't exactly sync up with how Americans might view "fast" food.  My brief understanding is that the chicken is lightly battered in a very fine flour and then deep fried for about 10 min.  It is then taken out and allowed to cool and for the grease to run off.  It is then deep fried again, allowed to cool again and then the sauce is applied.  This whole process takes about 35 minutes (which they do warn you about) so I would suggest calling ahead of time with your order.

The chicken itself was a whole new experience.  The outer skin and coating where crispier yet thinner than I have ever seen on a piece of fried chicken.  The meat on the inside was still tender and juicy with no signs of dryness whatsoever.  I really enjoyed the garlic-soy sauce on the chicken which had some sweet overtones. The chicken with the hot sauce was srichacha based and it was jam-packed with Korea's version of hot sauce.  I generally shy away from really spicy food but I could not stop eating all the chicken albeit the pickled radish became my saving grace when the spiciness built up too much.  Before I knew it, all 11 pieces of chicken had evaporated along with two servings of iced tea.  It is difficult, however, to compare this to the American version of fried chicken since to me, they are two different presentations.  For now, I'm content to say that this was very well done and every bit as good as the domestic kind.

I consider myself a fried chicken junkie and I've been meaning to cook up some fried chicken so I could make a post for Food We Love.  Bon Chon's fried chicken lives up to the hype and I would gladly keep going back there for my fried chicken fixes.

1 comment:

  1. What we have here is some of the best fried chicken I've ever tried anywhere. The spicy variety in particular is something I think other restaurants and even the biggest catering company should take pointers from.


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