Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mad for... Chicken?

I just found out that within the past week or so, Koreatown's Bonchon Chicken has been renamed... wait for it... Mad for Chicken. This, as I've read, has been done for easier pronounciation. It's a shame, and puzzling for a few reasons. First of all, how hard is it to say "Bonchon"? Bon. Chon. Secondly, wouldn't a more traditional name work better for a true Korean take on chicken, as opposed to an all American family friendly title? And finally, is it just me, or does the name stir visions of meat-related disease pandemics? Between the old forgotten mad cow and the tired swine outbreak, you would think they'd want to steer clear of a name like Mad for Chicken.

Anyway, I had only visited K-town's favorite fried chicken once, back in February, and for some reason never got around to reviewing it. The rebranding reminded me to dig up the pics and share the experience. And since I visited it before the name change, I will refer to it by its original name.

BonChon is hard to find, hidden on the second floor of a poorly labeled building on 5th Ave. You climb a narrow staircase and then suddenly, you're in a tall ceiling'ed, MOMA-ready industrial space. Lots of concrete and odd looking shapes, big modern chairs and mirrors, very minimalist.

We were told they only had wings at the time of our visit, and that they only had two types -- soy garlic and spicy. We decided on an order of both, plus two sides -- "stick vegetables" and rosemary fries. Both came before the chicken, as appetizers, which was a little strange. We also waited forever for the chicken, also strange seeing as how they just said it was all they had on the menu. The rosemary fries were great, but "stick vegetables" turns out to be a very overpriced third grade snack: carrot sticks and celery sticks and dipping sauce.

And then came the chicken. They fry their birds twice for an extra crunchy outside, and both the soy garlic and the spicy wings showed off some amazing flavors. These were without a doubt the best chicken wings I've ever had. The spicy pieces so hot it was almost painful, but I couldn't stop. I savored every extra crispy bite.

If you haven't been here yet, you must. It's a rite of passage for New Yorkers.

Strange name aside. Because, what's in a name, right?

Mad for Chicken
314 5th Ave, 2nd Fl (between 31st St & 32nd St)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 221-2222

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