Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Korean Fried Chicken - Bon Chon vs Kyochon

I had been eagerly awaiting the Ludo Fried Chicken fest last night at Akasha but when I got an email from Simon from the UK blog Los Dos Hermanos this weekend wanting to know if I wanted to join in on a Bon Chon lunch on Monday the only answer was yes, and to make it even more of a fried chicken day we decided to do a Bon Chon vs Kyochon double header taste test.

We met at Bon Chon Chicken on 6th St. in Koreatown and began by ordering rice sticks followed by the spicy chicken wings and drumsticks.

A free salad was brought to the table along with two mysterious circular tablets that looked like alka seltzer. After consulting with the waitress we found out that these were actually mini towelettes that expanded when put into a little bowl of water, kind of like those sponges you may have received that when you put them in water turned into animal shapes. We could see the towels soaking up the water and lowering the waterline in the dish.

The rice sticks came on skewers and dipped in sauce. The consistency was chewy. Not my favorite food as it didn't have enough flavor and the mouthfeel was not to my taste.

The food is cooked to order so prepare for a wait for your chicken. We got the rice sticks both to tide us over and to try something different. Next the Bon Chon fried chicken wings and legs arrived, along with a dish of pickled radish. The chicken had a nice spicy sauce. The chicken was good, had crunch and was not heavy like southern fried chicken. The picked radish was a nice contrast / palate cleanser, but kind of boring. If I want something pickled in a korean restaurant, I want kimchi.

We then went down the street to Kyochon, which is located in a minimall about 8 blocks west of Bon Chon. Kyochon also has waiter service but it took a few tries to get the servers attention. We ordered the spicy chicken, to be comparable to Bon Chon, and got both legs and wings, as before. Kyochon offered the ability to order by the piece in increments of two, an option we did not see on the Bon Chon menu. Pickled radish was available, but for $1. As we had not eaten much radish at the first place, we passed on ordering it here.

Like at Bon Chon, the meal began with a complimentary salad at Kyochon. The salad was more appealing and less like slaw. When we ordered the spicy chicken the waitress asked if we really wanted the spicy version. We did. I assumed that was because we were not Korean and that it wouldn't be very spicy. I was wrong. It had some really nice heat. Not overwhelming, but legit spiciness. It snuck up on me over the course of a couple of chicken wings. Now this was something good.

The Kyochon korean fried chicken was the clear winner hands down. The spicy flavor and the generally tastier chicken put it ahead. Plus the salad was more to my taste and the bonus was as we were walking out, the waitress chased us down to offer us each some chocolate ice cream / yogurt in a small paper cup. A great way to end the meal with just a little sweetness. Both chickens were delicious, it is just that the Kyochon was better. Each meal was ~$10 per person.

Bon Chon is located at 3407 West 6th Street (corner of Catalina Street). Phone: (213) 487-7878. Website: www.bonchon.com/eng/index.php

Kyochon is located at 3833 West 6th Street (corner of Serrano Avenue). Phone: (213) 739-9292. Website: www.kyochon.com/usa/us/la.asp

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