BONCHON: WINNER, WINNER, PRETTY GOOD CHICKEN DINNER

Bulgogi%2C+marinated+beef%2C+from+Bonchon%2C+a+restaurant+known+for+selling+traditional+Korean+food+at+fair+prices.

JP HILL • THE SPECTATOR

Bulgogi, marinated beef, from Bonchon, a restaurant known for selling traditional Korean food at fair prices.

Arielle Wiggin, Author

Bonchon is finally open in Seattle, and everyone with an Instagram account is there.

Well, not really, but while you are waiting for a table it can seem like that. Should you go to Bonchon? Yes, if you want to try (or are nostalgic about) a new internationally Instagram- acclaimed chain with legitimately good food. Also yes, if you just want decent fried chicken.

Despite “Coming Soon” signs in the storefront windows and regular updates of fried chicken photos on the verified Bonchon– Seattle Facebook page since January 2018, followers were left in the dark for months regarding the opening date of the popular restaurant. Seattleites were finally able to visit the location in the first few weeks of their soft opening in December, during which the often-instagrammed Korean fried chicken chain was open on First Hill with limited hours and a minimal dine-in only menu.

The opening of this fried chicken spot adds another Bonchon to the 200-plus locations worldwide. Based on what I heard from the individuals waiting for a table, it is a relief for those new to Seattle missing this particular fix. As I sat down, the couple sitting at the table next to me remarked that they have waited for this opening for three years.

Bonchon is known for its chicken, and that is what brought me there. If you are a vegan who got dragged here with your more carnivorous friends, the sesame ginger salad is an option, but beyond that, you might be stuck with edamame and pickled daikon. There are a number of items that would be okay for someone avoiding gluten, but of course anyone with a more serious sensitivity will have to make that judgement themselves.

I ordered the wings with soy garlic sauce and with spicy sauce, as well as takoyaki. The wings, which cost $9.95 for the smallest order, came after a prescribed 20 minute wait—they make the wings to order, so you do have to wait after getting a table. I did not know what I wanted to order before I sat down, but I would recommend figuring that out while you wait for a spot. The wings are fried twice and coated in their sauces. This style of wings is an experience that places more emphasis on balanced flavors and the delicate craft of cooking. These wings are not anemic chicken coated with millimeters of nuclear orange sauce—not to say there is not a place for technicolor poultry dishes in culinary culture, but this is a different eating experience. They are crisp, with an appropriate flavor-to-wing ratio. The soy garlic sauce was sweet and not memorable, but the spicy sauce wasa perfect subtle burn. The vinegary daikon radish that comes with the wings cuts the spice, so if you’re not particularly spice-tolerant I would recommend trying a piece.

In terms of the takoyaki…go for the chicken. I tried this dish because I had not had it before, but my friend who joined me and knew what good takoyaki tastes like was not impressed. They came out cold initially and we had to ask for a fresh dish. No shade to the kitchen staff—they were dealing with high foot traffic—but the chicken is this restaurant’s mainstay for a reason.

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