Over the past five years in the Triangle, Korean fried chicken has become a delicious and more common offering on Korean menus throughout the area. And it was a natural fit for the area given our love of Southern fried chicken. But Korean fried chicken really takes that category of eats to a whole new level!
With a double-fried crust, Korean fried chicken usually takes some time to prepare but is totally worth it. Slather some spicy or soy-garlic sauce and you’ve got yourself a meal. I remember when Soo Cafe offered up the first Korean fried chicken back in 2012 but since then we’ve added at least 4 or 5 more options for this crispy chicken treat. One of the most recent options for Korean fried chicken lies out in Chapel Hill at Bonchon. A national chain dedicated to Korean fried chicken, this location on E. Franklin Street was the first for the Triangle.
From the outside, Bonchon is pretty impressive! A two-floor structure fronted with plate glass windows, the interior is a simple cafe set-up with stairs in the back leading to a smaller 2nd-floor dining area. A bar to the right has a handful of HD screens showing the latest game, it’s all very simple and efficient.
Sitting down at a table, you do pick up the chain restaurant vibe given the paper place-mat explaining the Korean dishes on the menu. It’s all very helpful because to be honest with you, not everyone is familiar with Korean cuisine even though it’s seen a surge in popularity in the Triangle. For the Korean fried chicken, you can order it up in three forms: wings, drums, and strips
A great side to start with are the spicy fries at Bonchon! They’re lovingly served up in paper cone and have a light coating over the potato. Perfectly browned and crisp, dunking fries into the ketchup and popping them in your mouth becomes an exercise of self-control. These Bonchon fries are excellent and worth the calories.
For non-Korean fried chicken options, the bulkogi sliders are excellent. Served on a sweet but with slaw, onion, and pickle, these bulkogi sliders pack a ton of flavor in a handful. They are also offered with Korean fried chicken on top which sounds amazingly delicious!
And of course, you don’t want to miss Bonchon’s Korean fried chicken. The Korean fried chicken here is very lightly sauced and lightly crispy. The Korean fried chicken here does not have as thick a crust as other spots I’ve tried in the Triangle. One note, they do serve the whole wing with the flats which make for more surface area, but messier eating.
Bonchon also offers a ton of Korean and Asian eats beyond Korean fried chicken. Bao buns, popcorn shrimp, takoyaki and a lot more. I’d describe the menu here as bar food, plus. I’d imagine a stop here after a night of drinking would be some fun.
As a fan of Korean fried chicken, I can certainly say that Bonchon hit’s the spot. But given that KFC has been in the area for eight or so years, the bar has been really raised and Bonchon sits squarely in the middle for me. But given there aren’t a ton of choices for Korean fried chicken in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, it’s a good option. Just be prepared to wait a bit for your food and order some apps to keep you tided over. Bon appetit!