Bonchon with the Boys: A Food Review
Just a thirteen-minute drive from Hopkins, situated between shops and concert venues in New Haven’s bustling downtown area, Bonchon is the ultimate eatery for those in search of one particular food item: spicy Korean-flavored chicken wings.
It was 6:26 P.M. on a wintry Tuesday when Eliot Carlson ’19 and I made the fateful decision to walk through Bonchon’s inviting doors. The in- terior of the restaurant was shiny and new. Crisp HD televisions mounted on the walls, light shimmering off beautifully polished wooden tables, and a modern grey-tinted glass divider separating the tables from the ordering area gave the place an air of quality and professionalism. The two of us were optimistic about the prospects of our culinary experience. Our optimism was tamped down slightly, however, when we heard the only other customer in the restaurant complaining vociferously to his server about a prior arrest in Virginia.
Carlson and I sat on tall leather-cushioned stools at opposite sides of a square table situated next to the divider. After a brief wait, our waiter brought us glasses of water and menus. It did not take us long to fnd what we wanted to order. Our eyes were drawn to the chicken wings, crispy morsels of fried chicken doused in either “spicy” or “soy garlic” sauce. We each asked for the same order of ten wings, five spicy ones and five soy garlic ones, for the reasonable price of $12.95.
After a twenty-minute wait, our waiter brought two plates to our table. Their wings glistened, their crimson hue contrasting heavily against white ceramic plates.
Carlson was the first to try his food. After sinking his teeth into the crispy skin of a fried chicken wing, he noted: “These wings are spicy.”
I found myself in concurrence with Carlson’s assertion regarding the spice level of the chicken; furthermore, I would posit that the “spicy” wings were perhaps too spicy. They tasted wonderful at first, but after eating a few of them my mouth began to feel as if it were on fire. The favor of the soy garlic wings, however, was a perfectly crafted medley of spicy, salty, and sweet. If I return to Bonchon, I foresee ordering only the soy garlic wings. Carlson and I both thoroughly enjoyed our food, but the totality of our shared dining experience was not perfect. Despite the fact that the restaurant was not crowded at all, our waiter never checked on us and never reflled our water. The subsequent dearth of drink- able liquid was felt pronouncedly due to the spicy nature of our food.
Despite the mediocre service, Carlson heaped praise upon Bonchon after dining there, stating, “It was much better than I expected. I walked in with the notion that I would merely eat wings at a new restaurant. Instead, my eyes were opened and my entire worldview, especially with regards to the consumption of chicken, was changed. I hope to bring others to Bonchon in order to spread the gospel of its spicy Korean-style sauce.”
Bonchon represents a great option for those in need of a break from the standard set of casual New Haven dining establishments such as Shake Shack and Five Guys. At Bonchon there are soy garlic wings for those who merely wish to titillate their taste buds and spicy wings for those who wish to push their sensory perception of food to its absolute limit. The average quality of the service and ambience is more than made up for by the superb taste of the food. Bonchon is a wonderful place to bring someone to bond over a shared love for and appreciation of chicken wings.
Four out of five stars.