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Bonchon gets crowds hooked on Korean-style fried chicken

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The rapidly growing Bonchon Chicken franchise boasts the tagline “Addicted Yet?” and the answer is a resounding affirmative.
Photo: Jon Estrada
Debbie Lee

Look out, kimchi—fried chicken could knock you off your block. The American comfort classic is ubiquitous in South Korea, where heaps of finger-lickin’ goodness are served with pitchers of ice-cold beer at hofs (pubs) on every corner. It’s the perfect marriage of soul food and Seoul food: extra crispy chicken lacquered in Asian sauces for a kick of sweetness and spice.

Bonchon, now open in the southwest, is an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. The rapidly growing franchise boasts the tagline “Addicted Yet?” and the answer is a resounding affirmative. On a recent visit, a small combo of three drumsticks and six wings ($12.95) was worth the 45-minute wait for a table. The chicken arrived perfect inside and out, with each first bite crunchy enough to measure in decibels. The spicy sauce had just enough heat, and the soy-garlic version measured up to a certain colonel’s 11 herbs and spices. A complimentary side of sweet and sour pickled daikon, required of any respectable Korean fried chicken establishment, added the perfect amount of acid to cut through the richness.

The secret is a double-frying method. It’s the same process applied to Belgian frites: The chicken is first fried at a low temperature to cook the meat, then plunged into hotter oil for a crackling golden exterior. Don’t expect heat lamps here. Everything is made to order, which explains the long wait.

There’s also a separate menu of Asian snacks and entrées, though half of those items were sold out, and the remaining dishes were mediocre at best. Takoyaki ($6.95), a sort of Japanese hush puppy with octopus, leaned on the mushy side. Korean tacos with bulgogi ($10.95) were short on beef, and corn tortillas would have been preferable to the pasty flour version.

Those are forgivable errors, though. You’re here for the chicken, and Bonchon is a contender for the best in the city.

Bonchon Chicken 6455 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-778-0488. Daily, noon-8 p.m.

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