Three entrepreneurs were talking about food and the conversation veered into the topic of Korean fried chicken, that twice-fried-but-not-greasy street food.
This sent them on a bird-hunting trip to New York, which has a respectable contingent of chicken shops. (Philly has a few - Cafe Soho in West Oak Lane and Blue Bell, Chick-a-licious in Washington Square West, and Federal Donuts.)
The winner, said David Taing, was Bonchon, a South Korea-rooted franchise that planted its American flag in New York City a few years ago. "We said, 'Philly needs this.' "
And so it will happen.
On Thursday, Feb. 19, Taing and business partners Chris Huynh and Kenny Poon (whose restaurant holdings include KenShin, Tango, Tea-Do, and Kai) will open Philadelphia's first Bonchon at 1020 Cherry St., a bit out of the way in Chinatown. It's next to a new Sleep Inn. (Soft opening - OK, maybe crunchy opening - is Feb.18.)
Bonchon, with seating on two levels, 15 TVs, and an enormous projection screen across the front window, will have a bar specializing in beer (10 taps) and cocktails made of soju, the Korean firewater. The partners sell food and drink from lunchtime through late night.
You should know that a colleague my boss developed an obsession with Bonchon while he worked in Lower Manhattan. Having learned that Bonchon was on its way to Philadelphia, the colleague demanded weekly status updates. At a preopening tasting in January of both the sweet/soy and spicy varieties, his eyes glazed over and his jaw chomped lazily over the hot, crunchy and juicy treat. "Same as I remember it," he said.
In addition to chicken, the Bonchon sells fried calamari; Bonchon sliders with the choice of bulgogi or crispy chicken; seasoned french fries; and bulgogi wraps.
See the menu here.
Drink and dessert menu is here.