Have you Bonchon'd lately?
Bonchon at the Ayala Triangle Gardens
Seems like everybody in Makati has -- from Facebook friends to Twitter contacts, my feeds have been bombarded with raves about the sensational Korean brand of crispy chicken wings. Bonchon Chicken kept on nudging me -- a status update here, a Twitpic there, an RT of this tweet and that. And especially upon seeing the long lines during the lunch and dinner hours at the restaurant, all the more I was left wanting a bite of that twice-fried chicken.
I tend to favor anything crispy when it comes to food; when it comes to chicken parts, the wings automatically get my vote, no matter what kind of cooking the meat has been through. So on a lean time (that's in-between lunch and dinner), I finally had the chance to dine in Bonchon to get myself some of that famous crispy wings.
Inside Bonchon, it's simple and no-frills. The interiors are casual, livened up by a mix of reds and whites. Come lunch or dinner time, expect longer lines and waiting time -- it's usually the case for the restaurant and other establishments at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. A little tip, though: you can order a day ahead if you plan to just order for takeaway. Just call up the restaurant, place your order, and leave your contact details and mention the time of pick-up. This is perfect especially for office lunch breaks, so you can just grab your order and go, then enjoy the crispy chicken in the comforts of your office pantry.
So what's all the fuss about this fried chicken brand? Well, it's quite a unique fried chicken, very different from the taste we Pinoys are used to when it comes to fried chicken. Our fried chicken experience consists mostly of the heavily battered, oily, and crispy-coated kind. Which isn't bad at all, if I may say so -- it's one of my ultimate comfort foods. Then here comes Bonchon entering our shores, showing to all of us how our chicken could be quite nice when fried twice.
Want to meet the secret?
The Korean style of frying chicken involves a technique of frying twice, which is supposed to separate the chicken fat from the skin. So you can say this is a healthier and leaner chicken. In addition, the Bonchon chicken contains zero trans fat, according to their official website. Bonchon chicken's seasonings and spices are also unique and distinctly Asian -- choose from the soy garlic and hot & spicy, and get ready to dig in the box of chicken with your hands. Emphasis on using your hands -- ditch the utensils for the complete finger-licking, lip smacking, bonchon'd-till-the-bone experience.
The Bonchon Original Chicken can be in the form of chicken wings, drumsticks, a combination of wings and drumsticks, or chicken chops. A Small (P185) order, for example, can be a soy garlic or hot & spicy order of 6 wings, or 3 drumsticks, or 4 chicken chops. Medium (P365) gives you 12 wings or 6 drumsticks, or a chicken combo of 3 drumsticks and 6 wings, or 8 pieces of chicken chops. The Large (P720) order is perfect for your barkada or your family -- you can opt for all wings (24 pieces), all drumsticks (12 pieces), chicken combo (6 drumsticks and 12 wings), or all chops (12 pieces).
Bonchon it your way -- choose from wings, drumsticks, or chops to taste the twice-fried technique
Value meals are also available, priced below P150 each. There are 6 meals to choose from, if you want a chicken rice box, a bulgogi rice box, a sandwich, or a wrap meal. Before I go on about their chicken, let's take a detour on another Bonchon favorite, the bulgogi.
On your second visit at Bonchon (since I'm assuming your first will be dedicated to chowing down on their chicken), I hope you try their Bulgogi Wrap (P125). It's a delicious take on the classic Korean dish -- you have marinated, tender slices of beef and kimchi-style vegetables served to you like a burrito. The flavors aren't overwhelming, seasoned with soy and other spices just right.
I like munching on the Chicken Chops that are Soy Garlic, while devouring the Chicken Wings in Hot & Spicy. The chops are what's best for the lazy Bonchon addicts -- they're boneless chicken, sliced thin for added crispness. Easier and faster to eat, with the flavors of choice intact. From the outside, the chicken chops look like they're glazed with sugar, seemingly sweet and crunchy the way banana-cue is. The hot & spicy kind looks exactly the same, so be forewarned. Bonchon puts a toothpick on the spicy chicken so that you won't get confused.
Hot & Spicy Chicken Wing
For spicy lovers, get your fingers dirty on their wings and drumsticks, and keep an ice-cold glass of water or soda at hand. I don't know what it is with the hot & spicy Bonchon wings that makes me go at it like an Energizer bunny. Maybe it has to do with the less greasy experience -- using your hands to eat the wings is a more pleasant experience with twice fried chicken. Order a cup of the diced Pickled Radish (P45) as it pairs well with the hot & spicy wings. The cool pieces of crunchy radish are welcome treats in my mouth, taming my tongue in between a chicken chow-down. I had two orders of the stuff to go with my lunch.
While I'm a wing-girl from the start, Bonchon made me appreciate their fried drumsticks. Another plus for twice-fried chicken is the assurance that your meat is thoroughly cooked. I'm sure we've all had experiences when we are given fried drumsticks that are golden brown on the outside, but upon slicing through the meat, we see that it's still uncooked and bloody on the inside. I think that's the main reason why I keep away from fried drumsticks. And hey, I like the effort I put into devouring a chicken wing, it makes the eating experience more fun!
Have a bite of Bonchon's signature crisp and delicate chicken skin
After tasting Bonchon in our shores, I have to say, I'm more than willing to Bonchon my heart out again soon. Just last week, I had it twice, and introduced it to more people (who eventually fell in love with twice-fried chicken like I did). Hopefully their second branch opens very soon, and that more outlets open in 2011, so that more and more people can have a taste of their uniquely crispy, spicy and flavorful wings.