Upon returning from Japan, Korean fried chicken was one of the first foods I craved. Coincidentally I held a going away party for myself at Mad for Chicken. When I heard that the former Bon Bon Chicken had become a Bon Chon Chicken I decided to swing by Chambers street and grab a take-out order on my way back to Brooklyn. So, how did the new Bon Chon compare to the old? Understanding that one version was take-out compared to the dine-in versions in the past I would say that the differences were negligible. The spicy glaze still tasted faintly of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and the skin was crispy without being greasy. The meat for both the drumsticks and the wings were also as moist as I remember the old Bon Chon chicken to be. The main difference I noticed was not the chicken itself but rather what accompanied the chicken. Instead of the pickled daikon served at Mad for Chicken, Bon Chon offered a kimchi coleslaw and while this riff on a classic fried chicken side proved better than expected it lacked the acidity that I enjoy to help cut the richness of the chicken. There were also french fries with a wasabi mayonnaise and some generic dinner roles that seemed misplaced compared to some of the more classic Korean bar foods found at Mad for Chicken but I conceded that these were two vastly different dining experiences. You can see our complete flickr set of Bon Chon pics here.
I recently accompanied HDB and our friends to Momofuku Noodle Bar for a late night fried chicken feast. You can read that post here and see our entire flickr set here. I was told about the dinner like this:
Chief: "Yo, I just scored a reservation for Momofuku fried chicken, you in?
DAsian: "When is it?"
Chief: "Friday around noon."
Chief: "Oh shit! More like midnight, the reservation is for 11 p.m., not 11 a.m!"
Momofuku Fried Chicken (Southern Style and Korean Style.)
The group that accompanied Chief and I to Momofuku were familiar with the Korean style fried chicken at Mad for Chicken. Washed down with some beer or soju many considered the chicken at Mad for Chicken to be the best fried chicken in New York. So how did David Chang's Korean style fried chicken compare to Bon Chon or Mad for Chicken? I'd say I was disappointed. Was it a failure, no, Momofuku's fried chicken (both styles) were plenty tasty to justify the price (maybe not the reservation process) but in my opinion I think there is better chicken elsewhere. But the beauty of fried chicken is that it has become the chic food of restaurants across New York since the recession and there are plenty of chicken to sample. From Andrew Carmellini's version at Locanda Verde to the fried chicken at The Redhead, which Serious Eats anointed as their favorite among several restaurants the choices and styles seem limitless. But do yourself a favor and if you haven't already done so, try Korean style fried chicken and see if this won't replace your notion of what KFC is.
Bon Chon Chicken
98 Chambers Street
Mad for Chicken
315 5th Ave. 2nd Floor
Momofuku Noodle Bar
163 1st Avenue
To see all of our pics, please click the flickr link.