Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bonchon Chicken Manila: Hit or Bust?

Bonchon Chicken is a Korea-based company which started in 2002.  In 2006, after much domestic success, Jin Duk Seh, owner of Bonchon decided to export the concept to the United States. Needless to say,   the spicy-sweet and crispy chicken brought a different twist to the chicken loving customers and became an instant hit in the U.S.  This is in this same logic that Scottland Inc., the master franchise owner of Bonchon in the Philippines had in mind when they opened their first store at the Ayala Triangle Gardens in November 16, 2010.

When they opened in Shangri-la, SM Mega Mall, and Robinson's Galleria there was a lot of buzz as to how delicious their chicken was.  Naturally, being a chicken lover, I was intrigued.  Unfortunately, it took a while for me to get a chance to validate what the buzz was all about.  

Last May 2, me and my wife celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary at Robinson's Galleria.  I wanted to treat her to something new and like an act of God we were face to face with a Bonchon branch.  Like Pavlov's dog we salivated only to be turned off by the full capacity dining area.  We ended up eating lunch somewhere else.   

We had a late and heavy lunch so after movies we were still not in the mood for dinner.  But on our way back to Holiday Inn we once again passed the Bonchon outlet and it had no queue this time so we decided "why the hell not" and ordered.  Chicken was the obvious choice and got ourselves a 6 pc. Thigh and Leg Combo (half soy and half spicy-Php 185) and an order of Bulgogi Wrap (Php 125) which the cashier mistook for Bulgogi Rice.  

We order TO GO for what was meant to be our midnight snack but as soon as I placed it on the hotel room counter top went on unwrapping what I thought was a Bulgogi Wrap.  Well, there goes my diet as the one provided me was a serving of soy beef rice topping.  Me and my wife dove right away on the chicken and finally rid ourselves of the curiosity.  It was different alright---sweet, crispy, and spicy!  The sweetness and crispiness tasted like caramelized sugar in soy.  It was of delectable foreign taste to me but I doubt I'll be able to eat more than my usual capacity.  It was...what's the term...NAKAKAUMAY.  This maybe the reason why their chicken size seems...small.   

Bulgogi Rice
Compared to the chicken of other fastfood chains Bonchon's drumstick was smaller and found the thigh part disappointingly lacking in size.

Just this morning, we my wife and I again pursued our Bonchon exploration.  This time it was at SM Fairview and we ordered for the Bulgogi Wrap (and made sure that the cashier heard me right this time) and 6 pcs Chicken Wings (Php 185).  

The Bulgogi Wrap (Php 125), while filling, did not satisfy my taste buds.  It was supposed to be made up of sirloin beef, Korean coleslaw and kimchi; however, it seemed like it lacked in beef with the coleslaw dominating the taste coupled by the spiciness of the kimchi.

Bulgogi Wrap sliced in two
If I was disappointed with the size of the thigh part, seeing the wings served to us, I felt ripped off!  There seem to be a disconnect with how a PIECE of wing is defined.  If you have tried Yellow Cab's Spicy Chicken Wings, imagine that cut in two (but smaller).  If we're to follow Yellow Cab's definition of a PIECE of wing, what was called 6 pcs was actually only 3 pcs.  

Bonchon Chiken Wings
Yellow Cab's 4 pcs Spicy Chicken Wing order is more expensive at Php 225 but it's definitely bigger and has a higher value for money impression.

So, will I go back and eat at Bonchon after these experiences?  Well, I still need to check out their Chicken Sandwich (Php 125)so I guess the answer is YES.  Unless I'm WOWed by the taste of this sandwich I'd say that will be the last time I'd eat at Bonchon.

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