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Bonchon bringing Korean fried chicken to Mountain View

Uploaded: Nov 23, 2016
A franchise of Bonchon, a Korean-born fried chicken chain, is opening in downtown Mountain View early next year.

Albert Tseng, a Mountain View resident, has taken over the space at 260 Castro St., formerly occupied by Midtown Cafe. Tseng owns two other Bonchons in the Bay Area (Sunnyvale and South San Francisco). He said he's always wanted to open in Mountain View, where he has a strong catering business and customers who frequent the Sunnyvale location.

Tseng, who used to be a self-described "burger guy" rather than "fried chicken fan," first tried Bonchon's Korean fried chicken in New York City. It was "amazing," he said.

In 2010, he opened the first Northern California Bonchon in Sunnyvale. South San Francisco came four years later.

Bonchon (which means "hometown" in Korean) first started in Busan, South Korea, and has grown to dozens of locations across Asia and the United States.

Bonchon's fried chicken starts with Mary's Organic Chicken, which is non-GMO and hormone-free. The chicken is double fried; in the middle of the frying process, it's taken out to get some air, which "harden(s) the shell of the chicken," Tseng said. Instead of drenching it in sauce afterwards, employees uses brushes to individually hand-glaze each piece, according to Tseng.

"What you find is the chicken stays very moist, there's a crunch to the outer shell and the sauce is on point," he said.

At Bonchon, diners can choose from soy garlic or spicy fried chicken wings, strips, drumsticks or a combination. Sides include pickled radish, coleslaw, kimchi coleslaw and steamed rice.

There are also Korean and Asian-fusion dishes on the menu, like kimchi pancakes, bulgogi, bibimbap, Korean tacos and the "Bonchon wrap" (chicken strips with lettuce, avocado, buttermilk ranch dressing and spicy mayo wrapped in a flour tortilla). View the menu here.

In Korean culture, Tseng said, eating fried chicken with beer and soju is almost like a "national pastime." (He compared it to when the group on hit TV show "Friends" gathers at a coffee shop to hang out.)

He hopes the new Bonchon in Mountain View will provide just that: "food in a comfortable, non-pretentious environment, paired with beers and soju."

Tseng is eyeing an early 2017 opening, tentatively in February. And there will likely be more local Bonchons to follow; Tseng said he's hoping to "gradually grow" the concept.

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Poke Lover, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 23, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Awesome. Strong move to bring in an established franchise with a loyal following that fills a hole in the Castro restaurant lineup! Yoogl / Midtown Cafe / whatever always seemed a bit confused about its identity, and the space was too large for it. Now if we only could find a way to keep out all the Palo Alto people desperate for decent eats... ;)


 +   4 people like this
Posted by resident, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 23, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Sorry, as long as Palo Alto keeps discouraging diverse moderately priced restaurants from opening in their city, Palo Alto residents will keep driving to Mountain View to eat.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Nov 23, 2016 at 6:44 pm

@resident:

As an MV resident, I'm fine with that. This restaurant will be downtown, so potential Palo Alto patrons can ride Caltrain and avoid the parking hassle.

Hope to see you here!


 +   7 people like this
Posted by resident, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 23, 2016 at 10:11 pm

I doubt anyone will take Caltrain from Palo Alto to Mountain View for dinner since trains only run once an hour after rush hour


 +   2 people like this
Posted by resident, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 23, 2016 at 10:12 pm

P.S. And Caltrain service is even worse at lunch time


 +  Like this comment
Posted by john_alderman, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 23, 2016 at 11:20 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Bonchon, very good wings... Sry Mtn View, I'm driving down to eat.

I do wish we could get a Kyochon in the Bay Area, Even better than Bonchon.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Nov 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

Thanks for supporting Mountain View small businesses everyone!

See you at Bonchon!


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Tremendous!, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Nov 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

Out-of-town $$ is always welcome in MV's businesses! The savvy locals ride bikes downtown to take advantage of "front door parking", but the tourists can drive if they want; it's all good, just bring your patience when you look for parking and don't be afraid to walk. Its a lovely town :)


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Another resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 28, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Poke Lover: What hole are you claiming this fills in Castro Street restaurants?

Korean Fried Chicken isn't new to the neighborhood at all. Not long ago, an experienced Korean-born restaurateur opened K-Pop Korean nearby, with Korean Friend Chicken, other popular specialties, Korean pop videos, etc. Hipsters praised it on Yelp but it closed a few months later. Not enough local interest, I guess.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by tommygee54, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Nov 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

A great addition to the downtown area. But with the restaurant turnover downtown, just how long will this eatery be in business? Good question. But I will try it out.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Poke Lover, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 28, 2016 at 9:39 pm

@Another resident

I think a focused reasonably-priced stylish fast-comfort-foody Korean restaurant absolitely fills a hole. The two Korean places on Castro today (Song Pa and the Grill Story - yuck, what a name) are more traditional, so there is room for another one. Comfort food options (for the dinner hour) are also pretty sparse - a couple of ramen places, some burger joints, maybe Blue Line? That's it. So Bonchon will very much be a viable option for the younger crowd and groups.

And last but not least, the chicken's pretty good! I missed K-Pop during its brief existence, but browsing the old reviews makes me think the place just tried to skate by as a concept, without the food being that good - kinda like the quickly departed HoneyCreek? They only served 2 kinds of chicken, and based on the sampling of comments, it's not a place one would want to come back to, Bonchon blows it out of the water:
- ... which was decent to an extent but this time a little too much flavor. It kind of tasted like Tapioca Express popcorn chicken
- The chicken was mostly well cooked but too much batter.
- The fried chicken was over saturated with sauces.

So I welcome Bonchon and I hope it adds to the treasure that we have in Castro street. I was just kidding about all the PA people, come any time and support our city. It was a dig at how terrible PA is in comparison for non-wallet-busting eats.

@tommygee54

The pattern has been pretty clear. Good places usually stick around and bad / confused ones don't. Let's hope.



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