Head To Bonchon For The Fried Chicken, Stay For The Best Appetizer We've Had All Year.
5500 Greenville Avenue, Suite 1300
Ambiance: 2 out of 4 Emergency Bites of Daikon Radish.
Food: 3 out of 4 Emergency Bites of Daikon Radish.
Service: 3.5 out of 4 Emergency Bites of Daikon Radish.
The last thing Dallas needed, it seems, was another fried chicken joint.
From the cheap, greasy deliciousness of Rudy's to Chicken Scratch or even Pecan Lodge's more upscale offerings, Dallasites certainly have an abundance of artery-clogging choices already.
Nevertheless, new Upper Greenville spot Bonchon has proved to be quite the hit since its December opening — so much so that the restaurant was forced to shut things down for a few days to hire and train new staff in order to deal with customer volume.
So the question has to be asked: What makes Bonchon stand out in the veritable sea of canola- and peanut oil-fried goodness? Mostly, it's the fact that the Korean-style joint's fowl gets to bathe in that sea twice, resulting in a bird that is appropriately crispy and never even hints at being dried out.
After frying, the chicken, which can be ordered as drumsticks, strips, wings or any combination thereof, is tossed in either a soy-garlic sauce or Bonchon's signature hot sauce. While the hot version is decidedly the more complex and flavorful of the two, it is hot; it had us lunging for the complementary pickled Daikon radish that accompanies every order on more that one occasion, just to cool our mouths down some. The soy-garlic, meanwhile, is perfectly serviceable, if a little boring after partaking in the hot stuff.
Our server recommended we order our chicken “half and half,” though, meaning we had a sampling of each sauce. It was a good compromise: We got plenty of heat, but still had a place for our taste buds to hide between spicy items.
As far as the types of chicken go, the drumsticks are the choice. They're basically giant wings, anyway. And they're far more flavorful than the all-white meat strips.
Here's the thing, though: Good as the chicken was, it wasn't even close to this best thing we ate on our Bonchon visits visit. That honor belongs to the Salmon Avocado Ball appetizer, which is probably the single most delicious item we've eaten so far in 2014. The dish is exactly what it sounds like: It's a ball, easily large enough to feed two, of salmon and avocado — mixed with crab meat, some veggies and mayo, too — that's breaded, lightly fried and drizzled with spicy mayo and soy-garlic sauce. The staff pushed it fairly hard, promising that the meal was “heaven in your mouth.” And, truth is, he wasn't that far off.
Bonchon's own model might be, though. The place advertises itself as a sports bar, for the most part. During lunch service, though, you can't really tell. Frankly, it feels like exactly what it is — a trendy, fast-casual, national chain. None of the restaurant's reasonably sized TVs had their volumes turned up, and no one seemed to be paying them much attention anyway.
On a weekend, given the right game, we could see the place — aided by its gameday drink specials — being at least a little more raucous.
But those are side concerns.
The real point is this: If you're in need of a fried food fix, you could do a lot worse than Bonchon. Like a lot worse.
The chicken is different and flavorful. And that Salmon Avocado Ball? It's worth the trip on its own.
Just don't stray too far from the Daikon.