Recent updates: Kyedong Chicken in Palisades Park NJ, and 3 branches of Kyochun open up in Queens.
It was a sticky, spicy job, requiring multiple road trips and multiple visits to restaurant locations in the in New York and New Jersey metro areas. It took six months, a new Nexium prescription and several bottles of Shout! stain remover (Rachel recommends Shout Ultra! Gel with the scrubby top) but we did it — we managed to try all the major variants of Korean Fried Chicken, so that you, our readers, will benefit from our research.
Ready for some spicy, sticky, crispy Fried Chicken with an attitude? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Bon Chon Chicken
2467 Lemoine Ave
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
New York City Locations:
314 5th Ave, 2nd Floor (32nd Street)
New York, NY 10138
98 Chambers Street (SOHO)
New York, New York 10004
157-18 Northern Blvd
45-37B Bell Blvd
253-11 Northern Blvd
Little Neck, NY 11362
478 Plainview Rd
Hicksville, NY 11801
Web site: http://www.bonchon.com
Bon Chon is the 800 pound gorilla in the Korean Fried Chicken biz, with six locations in the New York Metro area and still growing. Originating from Korea itself, it has legions of fans and started much of the KFC craze in the US, with its crispy wings and drumsticks that are flash fried and dipped in a choice of two sauces, a garlic soy or a spicy sauce laced with Korean hot pepper.
Bon Chon storefront on Lemoine Ave. Parking in this area is scarce, and because it takes 15 minutes per order, you should call in advance before showing up.
As with Boom Boom, there are essentially only two things you can order — Wings, Drums, or a combination of both (Special) in either Spicy or Soy/Garlic glaze. You can also get a combination of sauces in any order, which is either Medium or Large sized.
Bon Chon has about six tables you can eat at, plus they have a restroom.
Fried Chicken is healthy and is actually GOOD FOR YOU. Now I have proof!
A medium order of “Special” with half and half Spicy and Soy/Garlic.
A spicy drumstick.
Spicy cross-section. I can definitely say that I like Bon Chon’s wings, but I have a slight preference to Boom Boom, because while Bon Chon’s “Spicy” wings are hotter, due to use of more dry Korean red pepper, they don’t have as much as a pronounced Gochujang (hot fermented bean paste) and garlicky flavor as Boom Boom’s. I also think Boom Boom’s soy/garlic wings have a more pronounced soy flavor and they use a bit more sauce on their wings. However Bon Chon has more tables to sit at and is in a somewhat more preferable part of Fort Lee, with somewhat more parking, so it’s kind of a toss-up. I’m going to say you’re going to want to try both.
Boom Boom Chicken
553 Main Street, Fort Lee NJ 07024
Boom Boom, which used to be a Bon Chon store on Main Street in Fort Lee, has gone “rogue” and is looking to start its own KFC empire. While it shares some similarities with Bon Chon — fresh, never frozen wings and drumsticks, a 15-minute turn around time and similar choice of sauces — Boom Boom also fries whole chickens and bastes them, for those who like thighs, legs and breasts. I also find that their spicy sauce has a stronger fermented bean paste taste than Bon Chon’s, and their garlic/soy glaze appears to have a bolder flavor. Overall, my favorite of the two styles.
The storefront on Main Street.
Basically, you got four choices of things you can order: An order of drumsticks, an order of wings, an order of mixed drumsticks and wings, or a whole chicken. Everything is deep fried. You also can get your choice of Garlic/Soy sauce or Sweet and Spicy sauce, or half and half.
We got a order of Wings, half and half. It should be noted that it takes about 20 minutes for them to cook your order, because nothing is frozen or left under heat lamps — its made from NEVER BEEN FROZEN fresh chicken. So I recommend you call in your order before you get there, or bring a magazine or newspaper while you wait.
It should be noted that I think these are probably the best wings I have had in the entire area — the garlic/soy glazed ones are fantastic, as are the spicy/sweet ones which have a serious Korean red pepper kick to them. I think to truly appreciate them, you have to eat them on premises, because of the fried foods deterioration factor, they probably don’t travel far.
Every order of wings comes with sweet radish kimchi, which is great for eating between wings and is great for cooling the palate.
Kyedong Chicken / New York Meat Market
133 Broad Avenue, Palisades Park, NJ
The Palisades Park branch of Kyedong, which opened last year, slipped under the radar from the first version of this round-up, and its not surprising as to why — the signage outside is totally in Korean, and you have to look closely to see that there’s fried chicken advertised in the window. To make matters more complicated, the franchise is co-located within an upscale Korean butcher shop (which we’re going to dedicate another post to shortly) that specializes in barbecue meats made from Black Angus cattle. There is also no seating, so Kyedong is strictly for take out.
However, none of these complexities affect the fact that Kyedong’s chicken ranks right up there with Bon Chon and Boom Boom in terms of quality — its the same never frozen chicken, cooked to order, and takes a half an hour like the other two. The skin is nicely crisped, and like the other two, features a spicy (albeit very spicy) sauce and a regular, soy-based sauce.
The Kyedong Chicken franchise co-located with New York Meat Market on 133 Broad Avenue in Palisades Park.
The Kyedong Chicken menu, not entirely different from Bon Chon’s.
A large order of Drumsticks and Wings.
Drumstick, in the car.
Gotta eat them while they’re hot — although even when cooled, they’re pretty damn good at room temperature too.
28 W 32nd St, New York, NY
329 Bergen Blvd, Palisades Park, NJ
Baden Baden is another local chain that originates from Korea, but rather than being styled after a quick service restaurant, its more like the Korean version of TGI Fridays. Referred to as a “Hof”, which is derived from “Hops”, this is a beer-drinking establishment that serves a variety of Korean pub food. I’s specialty is the Baden Baden Chicken, which is stylistically different from the Bon Chon style.
The Baden Baden Palisades Park location.
The interior is meant to resemble a German brew pub.
The servers wear military-style uniforms, which I find weird and amusing.
The menu is pretty extensive, with both American-style and Korean-style food, but the place is really known for its whole chicken, which is rotisserie cooked, and then flash fried to crisp the skin.
Like many Korean Fried Chicken places, the required moo sweet radish kimchi is served on the side.
The main event, a large order of Baden Baden chicken.
Chicken closeup. Unlike the Bon Chon style, the flavor emphasis is on the crispy skin itself. Baden Baden provides hot sauce on the table for kicking things up.
Chicken closeup, with hot sauce on top.
Crispy skin closeup
My Favorite CheoGaJip Chicken
160-24 Northern Blvd
Like Baden Baden, CheoGaJip is also a “Hof”, in that it serves beer and other food items, but it’s chicken style is more similar to that of Bon Chon. However, it uses far more sauce than Bon Chon or Boom Boom, to the point where eating the wings becomes a very sticky affair. They also claim to use a special bottled wing sauce that comes from Korea, rather than produce their own recipe onsite. Whatever the case, it’s good spicy ‘eatins.
CheoGaJip storefront on Northern Boulevard in Flushing.
CheoGaJip serves a nice shredded cabbage appetizer, which is covered with a matrix of a spicy ketchup and a Japanese-style mayonnaise. I thought it went great with the wings.
A large order of the spicy and soy/garlic chicken. CheoGaJip also uses pieces of chicken breast in addition to wings and drums.
Spicy wing closeup. Note the heavier sauce glazing.
Soy/Garlic Wing closeup.
Hansol Nutrition Center
160-26 Northern Boulevard
Hansol calls itself a nutrition center, but its just a weird name for a regular Korean restaurant. The funny thing is its right next door to CheoGaJip, so in a sense they are “dueling” Korean Fried Chicken places. Hansol is a full blown Korean restaurant, so they’ve got a lot of other stuff on the menu, and they provide traditional banchan service, which is a great value.
Hansol storefront on Northern Boulevard in Flushing.
Hansol features both fried chicken and rotisserie-style chicken. The pitchers on the table are filled with boricha or iced roasted barley tea.
You want to order the “Yang Yum Chicken” or the “Chicken Plate”.
Hansol has a nice array of complimentary banchan that goes with the meal., including the traditional spicy kimchi, cabbage and white moo radish.
The Yang Yum chicken, which we thought was excellent. Really strong spicy fermented bean paste flavor too.
The chicken plate, which is not altogether different from Baden Baden’s but is not deep fried.
Chicken plate closeup.
Yet to be visited:
156-50 Northern Boulevard, Flushing NY
From NYTIMES.COM: “This Korean 1,050-restaurant chain, said to be the inspiration for the wave of Korean fried chicken spots in New York and on the West Coast, has opened its first New York outpost. Two more will open in Bayside, Queens, in a few weeks.”
Bon Bon Chicken
98 Chambers Street (Church Street)
Notes: A reported downtown NYC clone of Bon Chon.
Unidentified Flying Chickens
71-22 Roosevelt Ave.
Jackson Heights , NY 11372
Notes: This Jackson heights KFC shop appears to be stylistically similar to Bon Chon and Boom Boom. We’re looking forward to the chance to head to Queens to try it out. In the meantime, check out this post at The Food Section and this feature article by Julia Moskin at the New York Times.
448 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ
Notes: This Korean hof, which appears to be a virtual clone of Baden Baden, has an extensive beer menu and also specializes in Baden-style Korean Fried Chicken. On a recent onsite inspection by the Off The Broiler team, we found the beer and food menu to have no English translation and no pictures, and the staff did not speak English. Your Mileage May Vary.
Bonus Material: Korean Fried Chicken Commercials
Here are some insane commercials from the Kyochon fried chicken chain. Reportedly, they already have a few outlets in Los Angeles, and just opened a branch in Queens (see above).
This one would start a race riot if it was ever shown in the US:
[…] NYC/NJ Dining: The Great Korean Fried Chicken Round-Up [image] It was a sticky, spicy job, requiring multiple road trips and multiple visits to restaurant locations in the in […] […]
[…] A great guide to Korean Fried Chicken… apparently it’s healthy??? [Off the Broiler] […]
nyam…nyam…, it’s good chicken ! :)
Excellent post. Am glad to see KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) has finally hit our shores – it’s about time. Nothing like a whole chicken with beer, like they do it in Seoul.
A few notes:
– Kyo Chon is opening two outposts in Queens, one at the corner of Horace Harding and Springfield Boulevard, the other on Northern Blvd in the Murray Hill/Flushing area (I think).
– I’m also glad to report that an old favorite of mine, Mani Mani – one of the original NYC purveyors before the recent KFC boom – is reopening at its’ original location, about a block or two east of Hansol Nutrition Ctr and the other Northern Blvd location mentioned above.
I look forward to trying Boom Boom in Fort Lee, next time I’m in those parts.
Correction: the Korean word for radish is pronounced “moo,” not “mul.” MUL is Korean for water.
Thanks kfemme, I fixed it. I guess that’s what happens when I ask native Koreans to pronounce certain items for me at Han Ah Reum…
No problem! Thanks for the information in your comprehensive article. :)
I pulled a couple of Korean students over to my computer to read this (we were discussing food, and I thought being able to show them this post would give me some street cred, which it did). Anyhow, they think you hit the best in Flushing, except one thought you really should go to the Unidentified flying chicken place. (me? I don’t know this stuff. I was trying to convince them to form an Asian Cuisine club, with me as advisor, so we could go on field trips).
I’m wondering if ‘the hof” thing actually comes from German somehow. Baden Baden is a German resort town, and a ‘hofbrau’ is a beer hall. There are a lot of ‘hofbrau’ restaurants around the bay area that do meaty, goes-with-beer cuisine.
Is the Bon Chon chicken on 5th and 32nd closed/moved? I went there on Saturday and they were doing some construction at the doorway. I was kinda disappointed…
Poacher–the “hof” is indeed taken directly from German. The Koreans are copying the hofbrau concept. Why they chose to do this, and why it applies specifically to a beer and chicken combo, I don’t know. Some of the Korean hofs have other food besides Chicken, but Chicken seems to be the headliner. Also, inevitably, just as many of the patrons are drinking Soju as beer, but its the same intention.
Love the variety of places that you reviewed. Is there a reason why you didn’t include the price range? With so many places to choose from, knowing the price would help.
I live right by Toronto’s Koreatown and know what i’m seeking out for lunch tomorrow! Thanks JP.
Went to the Pal Park location of Bade Baden with my wife on Fri night. We got there around 7:30 and valet parked (the only way) The place wqs about 80% full with mostly young Korean singles and a few families. We orded beers, black and tan that were perfectly made. We went on to order food, Baden chicken and hot kimchi with cold tofu. The food was perfect, the chicken was a great rendition of Cantonese fried chicken, crisp skin juicey interior. The hot sauce on the side was like louisana hot sauce, not to hot with a tang of vinegar. The kinchi with tofu was amazing, a perfect compliment to the beers. By the time we left, 9:00 pm, the place was packed with groups of people, pitchers of beer and platters of food. A definate return with a group of freinds. Btw the omly very minor issue was the selection of beer. I had expected a varied list, but it was was the usual suspects. The way they served the beer was nice, pints and pitchers icey cold.
i’m still trying to understand what all the hype is about this chicken. i’ve tried 3 of the places above and each time it’s basically just fried chicken. nothing remarkable about it at all. is this just a fad. i’ve heard korean food fads come and go after a few months.
Not one line about how the korean fried chicken is ridiculously overpriced. Don’t expect to see American KFC prices at any of these spots. fresh chicken is great but at these prices isnt organic-free range the bare minimum? I don’t like hormones~!
Jason, nice piece dude! If memory serves I believe the name on the food handling license at UFC is Boom Boom Chicken dba UFC. Haven’t been to any of the N.J. spots or the NYC ones but I’ve had great experiences at UFC and several of the places on N. Blvd.
I hope all is well. I’ll be visiting New City (Rockland) sometime later this month and would like to indulge in a few ethnic delights, some inspired by your spectacular blog. Would be so kind to suggest some good ethnic eats within 45 minutes (each way) for any of the following?
Korean fried chicken (I have been salivating ever since reading about it at OTB)
Japanese Nabe hot pot or something similar
A NJ fried hot dog
A well done slice
If you don’t have time to reply I completely understand. I followed you on eGullet and am thoroughly enjoying your work here.
Anybody know how this style chicken is prepared? Is it possible to do at home? Does it take special hardware like Kentucky Fried?
During last summer, the Flushing branch of Bon Chon (or was that Kye Dong, I forget which) was showcast on MKTV, the Korean cable channel. They use fresh, non-frozen chicken with skin on. The oil I think they said was canola. The chicken pieces are fried once, and oil is thoroughly drained on a metal rack, then they are fried the second time.
Thanks for the comprehensive list of Korean Fried Chicken! Have you tried the frozen yogurt at Bon Chon? I hear they’re trying to jump on the pinkberry-frozen yogurt wagon. I’m headed to Baden Baden tonight but I might pop over to Bon Chon for a sample of the fro yo.
Thanks, Snoh. Given its popularity, I’m surprised there’s not more info out there about how to do it.
[…] need of a Korean Fried Chicken place here in Midtown (if your unfamiliar with the phonomenon, check out Jason Perlow’s round-up). Unfortunately, Baden Baden & Bon Chon, the two locations in Koreatown, are not open for […]
thanks for this detailed post….geez ~ i just ate & i’m already hungry again!
welcome back! :D
i’m so excited to be hearing from you again.
thanks for your posts!
[…] where you place your KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) […]
was there last evening. They changed the chicken i think, bigger than those i tried previously. Fatter and the skin not paper thin like before, though the spice is still the same as before.
i forgot to mention, i m referring to boom boom chicken.
Great use of photos and descriptions. Went to Bon Chon, now called Mad For Fried Chicken. It was excellent. Thanks for the heads-up.
PS Why not put a link so folks can contact you directly?
great roundup…were from the west coast and have alot of these here. also just tried to make our own version of korean fried chicken wings.
[…] As many of you are aware, I’m a bit of an obsessive when it comes to Korean Fried Chicken. […]
Thanks for sharing such awesome info!
Oh man, am I hungry now after seeing the pic of yam yang chicken…
Great post I just recently been going more to Fort Lee. However spending $8.50 for a New Jersey Transit and$ 20.00 for a large mixed korean fried chicken meal isn’t good in an economic downturn. I do prefer Boom Boom Chicken over Bonchon Chicken for friendlier service(to non koreans),larger portions(enough for two hungry people to bring home a doggy bag),and more value(it comes with soda and pickled radish. Bon chon does have many pluses. It has a bathroom, it is open on Mondays and it has a flat screen tv to watch the world cup when you eat their tiny wings.
Korean…Food…Overload. Seriously, that bonchon chicken looks divine!
Kyochon is now at the corner of 5th and 32st street in Manhattan. Stumbled on it by accident and now I’m totally addicted to their chicken and the overall genre. Last week I tried Bon Chon in Leonia NJ. Pretty good too, the owner was super nice and I’m not Korean. I prefer Kyochon at this point, but if I’m not going into the city, Bon Chon is certainly a very worthy choice for my fix. Next time I’m in the Fort Lee area, will try Boom Boom just for comparison’s sake. Now if only they’d spread out to other NJ areas, like here in Essex County!!!
[…] corn dogs, biscuits and more. For more info about Korean Fried Chicken in the area, this blog entry is the authoritative we could find on the […]
[…] corn dogs, biscuits and more. For more info about Korean Fried Chicken in the area, this blog entry is the authoritative we could find on the […]
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