Here at bazaar, we tend to obsess over experiences that resonate with us. Last month, we heard news about a new Korean fried chicken joint that goes by the name of Bonchon, and after our very first visit—this obsession ran a little too wild, but in the best of ways! By the end of April, we had consumed copious amounts of delectable fried chicken drumsticks, wings, strips, Korean tacos, and marinated Bulgogi. It all began when we bit into the fried chicken at Bonchon, and we instantly fell in love at that first crunch. The rest is history, or rather, a beautiful haze of delicious visits that kept taking us back to Bonchon Kuwait.
Located in Al Bida’a’s new sleek Dhai Complex, Bonchon is actually quite the renowned Korean Fried Chicken concept that has been spreading joy to the hearts, minds of stomachs of foodies all over the world with their specialized Korean-style fried chicken. Born in South Korea, and expanding to reach world-wide fame in New York and Asia, Bonchon’s key message is to spread happiness. Through their key motto #EatHappiness, Bonchon maintains an incredible standard by freshly preparing every piece of chicken to order.
For one Abdulmihsen Al-Asfour, pursuing a career in the food industry came as a natural decision. With a love for the culinary world since a very young age, Mihsen took culinary courses while studying at the American University in Paris, and he was ready to follow his passions—specifically his love for amazing, incredible fried chicken and Asia. After he discovered Bonchon when visiting New York, he knew he had to bring this concept to Kuwait. He contacted the brand and began training with Bonchon in New York. “We used to prep an average of 4000 pieces of wings every morning; I basically absorbed the Bonchon concept from every aspect. I have nothing but respect for the brand and it’s a thrilling experience to bring this concept to Kuwait to share with avid foodies who will notice the difference.”
We look around the cozy space, only to notice one wall that is quickly becoming covered with post-it notes, while another wall is elegantly decorated with testimonials from renowned reporters and international publications. Upon closer examination, we realized that the post-it notes were actually local customer testimonials! The message of #EatHappiness is quickly spreading across town, and we haven’t even sampled the chicken yet at that point. Mihsen laughed at our hungry exclamations, and put together a mouth-watering selection of dishes for us to try.
The key to remember with Bonchon is that the Korean style fried chicken is freshly hand-crafted, and orders typically take about 30 minutes to prepare, with good reason.
We started off our Bonchon experience with fish cake dumplings drizzled in an expertly balanced soy-garlic sauce, and our first experience of the chicken—little, juicy chicken bites that were breaded to perfection and also drizzled in a beautiful honey and molasses sauce to accompany the spicy mayo served on the side. We also tried the Bonchon take on the classic of salmon avocado salad. Presented in the form of a ball, you have to unravel the seared salmon to reveal a mix of avocado, crab meat, crunchy cucumber and fish roe. This ball of salmon goodness is also topped off with spicy mayo and crunchier bits of tempura. Yum!
Now, for the main event. At Bonchon, you can have their signature Korean fried chicken in several ways. Choose from drumsticks, wings, boneless strips, or sliders, served with either a slightly sweet soy-garlic, or experience the fire of Korean chilies and go spicy, or get the best of both worlds and go with half garlic, and half spicy. Guess what? That’s precisely what we did. Our taste-buds first enjoyed that famous, golden, crispy crunch when we sunk our teeth in (the sound that’s so addictive!), to reveal the juicy chicken within. Then, the sauce kicked in, and our taste buds were on fire when we tried the spicy option! From the drumsticks, to the wings, to the strips, we couldn’t get enough of the chicken and only wanted more, and that’s all thanks to its awesome preparation that Bonchon ensures with every order. Also served with a cool coleslaw salad, this is essential to cool down after that amazing spice.
If you’re wanting to experience more Korean delicacies and modern takes on classics, then you should surely let your culinary palate explore their other menu offerings. Thinly sliced, tenderized, aged, marinated rib-eye beef served in a homemade sauce, or Bulgogi, can be enjoyed in their special Korean tacos, or also as a slider option. If you’re missing the crisp of the chicken, rest assured you can also enjoy it as a slider option, steamed wheat bun, or also in their amazing Korean tacos format that we dutifully devoured with happiness. We also sampled the Bulgogi Bonchon style, where it is served with mushrooms and onions, white rice and steamed vegetables. Then came the Bulgogi Fried Rice dish, which can also be served with their famous chicken.
For the bold at heart, we think that you should try the 14th century Korean royal court favorite of Tteokbokki [read as: duk-bok-ki]. Prepared with a fiery red sauce (we promise you, that spice is amazing!) enjoy a hearty plateful of fish, rice, and crunchy seaweed dumplings. We literally jumped out of our seats when we tried it, and fellow Korean diners at the restaurant couldn’t help but smile at our reaction.
We left Bonchon filled with happiness, and found ourselves quickly back there the following weekend, then weekday, then the weekend again. Clearly, we’re obsessed, and we can’t wait to try out new menu additions that are constantly being worked on at this little place that serves up chicken goodness in Al Bida’a.
Bonchon Kuwait is located in Al Bida’a at Dhai Complex, and the doors to happiness open at 3 p.m. For more information, follow @Bonchonkwt on Instagram.
Photography by Yousef Al Nasser @YousefCam and Abdullah Al Saleh.