KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), not the southern Kentucky kind, is taking over the streets of New York, or at least according to the NY Times. Perhaps it’s the twice cooked, Chinese style frying technique that renders the skin super thin and crispy that makes it so appealing. Or perhaps it’s the care and the diligence that they have about only preparing the chicken fresh so everyone can enjoy the hot and aromatic smells.
Since I didn’t get to go to any Korean Fried Chicken joints on my previous trips to New York, I made some effort to have at least a lunch at one of them, and ended up in the Flushings location of Bon Chon Chicken, conveniently located very near to where I was staying with some relatives. Apparently the chicken is more popular at evening time, when people clock off from work and want a few beers which might explain how we were the only people eating here at lunch time. A few people did ring ahead for their takeaway orders since they have the refreshingly strict, only cook to order policy.
A waiter greeted us promptly when we entered, asking us if we’d been here before and gave us some time to peruse the menu. We thought we’d start with a small selection of wings, and pig out on the fries and popcorn shrimp as I’d read about how they seasoned the fries instead of simply pouring salt on them.
Strangely, he delivered the fries and popcorn shrimp first, as if it was an appetiser, although considering how large the serve was, it would have been plenty for lunch for the both of us. Sprinkled liberally with garlic and rosemary, the shrimp and fries were amazingly crisp and super tasty. Combined with three types of dipping sauces (sweet chilli, hot chilli and a tomato ketchup), we cycled through the different sensations as we finished off the large bowl.
It wasn’t too shortly after than he brought out the chicken wings and drumsticks, I think a combination of four pieces of each type. They offer a choice of sauces, and in order to trial both of them, ended up having half and half, the first, a sweet garlic soy, and the other, a hot chilli sauce.
I have to admit that the Korean fried chicken impressed me. The skin stayed super crisp for the entire time, with the insides succulent and juice. What sauce they had didn’t overpower the flavour of the chicken, instead adding a different dimension. They also make it so that the sauce isn’t like what you’d have on buffalo chicken wings – a messy covering that ends up everywhere including your hands and your face. Instead, it seemed like a thin-glaze that somehow stayed on the chicken itself to continually make the chicken stand out.
I have to admit I had a hard time trying to decide which one was my favourite flavours out of the two. The garlic soy was slightly sweet, and the perfect balance, neither being too sweet, nor excessively garlicky. The hot sauce, on the other hand, lived true to its name, even to the point it started to make me sweat. The sauce also wasn’t just hot, it had some nice flavours and I appreciated the fact that the sauce brought on a continual heat, rather than the mustard or wasabi inspired instantaneous hit you might expect.
After our meal, a very reasonable price as well, I can understand why it’s becoming more and more popular. KFC is not a fast food to be taken lightly. It’s a different spin on something very classic and manages to deliver in surprising ways.
Name: Bon Chon Chicken
Found at: 157-18 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY 11354
The Good: Crisp, amazingly fresh flavours and a unique twist on the classic fried chicken. This location is also a nice place to hang out, having been renovated recently and looking pretty stylish.
The Not So Good: Don’t be fooled by their website describing their chicken as healthy. It may not have as much coating to soak oil up, but fried chicken is still fried chicken.