After enjoying delicious beer and shopping at Heavy Seas Beer’s annual Pints & Panic, we went in search of food before doing our grocery shopping for the week.
A little backstory: Before moving to the area, I had researched food blogs/forums in the area, to get a ‘lay of the land’ from writers/reviewers whose opinions I could trust. I came across DonRockwell.com, who lavished heaps of praise on Bonchon:
Nevertheless, it really is unlike anything you’ve ever tried before – they double-fry it in a super wok (I think), and the chicken stays hot and crispy for over thirty minutes (actually it stays crispy for much longer than that).
The threads on DonRockwell.com are filled with fans trying to crack the code of their recipe…all unsuccessful.
After months of prodding Jen to give it a try, she finally agreed. Great Success!
Tucked into a strip mall of predominantly Korean shops on Plum Tree Drive, just off Baltimore National Pike in Ellicott City, this Bonchon location is one of a handful in the Baltimore/DC area. A franchise from Korea by way of New Jersey, Bonchon translates to English as ‘my hometown.’
With its first location in Leonia and spreading to other areas in New Jersey, Bonchon finally hit the famous New York City in 2007. By then, it was clear that Bonchon was a natural growing success. A delicious, new and exciting kind of chicken America had not yet experienced was born! Today there are 30 existing stores operating in the United States and 70 more overseas in Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand. We hope that the comfort of Bonchon reaches you wherever you are in the world. — Our Story
We walked in, were greeted immediately and were seated in the dining area. Smartly decorated with black wooden tables and booths, and a stainless steel bar, I noticed the restaurant was impeccably clean. Interestingly, canvas paintings of Jay-Z & Lil’ Wayne adorn the walls, along with photos of modified cars a la The Fast & The Furious.
Our waitress arrived quickly, and upon hearing that it was our first visit, she gave us a brief rundown of the sauces for their fried chicken:
Soy Garlic: Try our robust and savory soy-garlic chicken to experience the deep flavor of soy sauce with a garlicky kick. Soy sauce and garlic are essential seasoning ingredients in Korean cooking, used as often as salt and pepper to enhance the flavors of many dishes.
Hot: To feel some intense heat, bite into our hot and spicy chicken, which is brushed with our sauce made with fiery, red chili peppers. Red chili peppers are dried and ground up into the sweet and smoky spice Koreans call ‘gochugaru’ (literally ‘pepper powder’). This is the key ingredient our flaming hot sauce.
Half & Half: At Bonchon you can get the best of both worlds! Half Soy Garlic, and half Hot Sauce, an experience like no other!
Being the Glutton For Punishment aka Fan of All Things Spicy, I wanted the Hot, but Jen wanted the Soy Garlic…so we ordered Half & Half.
The menu states that there is a 20-30 minute wait for the chicken, as everything is cooked fresh and to order. Knowing good food takes time, we were OK with this. We watched the various college football games that were on the TVs in the dining room. We also noticed they do quite a bit of takeout business.
Approximately 25 minutes later, our waitress brought out our order. I smelled the 2 sauces, and I immediately knew I was in for a wild ride: The Hot Sauce definitely smelled spicy, with a deep red hue and plenty of chili seeds in the sauce.
I picked up a piece with my chopsticks, took a bite and my mouth was immediately filled with a wall of flavor: Crunchy, Spicy, a Bit Savory. This was indeed like no other fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. Jen had a similar reaction with her Soy Garlic chicken.
Our waitress also brought out samples of their Cole Slaw: their standard Cole Slaw and the Kimchi Slaw. As the Hot Sauce was making me break a sweat, yet giddy from the endorphin rush, this was gladly accepted. Both tasted very fresh, crunchy and full of flavor. I will definitely get full-size orders of both next time.
Full and giddy, we left fully intent on going back very, very soon.
Addicted Yet? Totally.Bonchon Chicken
3419 Plum Tree Drive (multiple locations in DC/Maryland/Virginia)
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(410) 465-0515 | Website | Facebook | @Bonchon