Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kyochon - 32nd St & 5th Ave

319 5th Ave

New York’s dining scene has been buzzing lately about famed Korean fried chicken joint Kyochon, and its recent descent on Midtown Manhattan. This fast-food fried chicken restaurant has just opened a new outpost on the corner of 5th Ave and 32nd St. Sadly, the reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

Kyochon’s futuristic, space-age design is interesting enough, full of starkly contrasting reds and whites, shiny chrome and clear plastic. But the walls of televisions upstairs are a huge distraction, and the über-modern aesthetic also applies to employee uniforms, inviting a comparison to flight attendants from a poorly costumed Tarantino movie.

Korean fried chicken is a completely different style from the Southern fried chicken of Popeye’s and KFC - and to give Kyochon their due, they deliver on the distinction. At Kyochon, the chicken (drumsticks or wings only) is fried twice for extra crispness and brushed with either a soy-garlic or hot & sweet sauce. But the glaze is a bit thick, and the hot & sweet sauce is not spicy enough to merit the cashier’s warning. The chicken itself is fairly decent, but ultimately disappointing given the high expectations Kyochon’s set up for itself.

Kyochon is located on a section of 5th Avenue just on the perimeter of Koreatown, an area full of mandoo, bibimbap, gogi gui (Korean barbecue), and – you guessed it – Korean fried chicken. In fact, Kyochon’s main competitor, Bon Chon Chicken, is about to become their neighbor, moving in just half a block away within the next couple of months. And Bon Chon makes the same chicken - only much, much better.

With so much competition nearby, Kyochon needs to start offering more than just hype.

1 comment:

  1. I ate at Kyochon during off peak hours and the chicken seemed like it sat around on the counter for 60 minutes before they served it to me (taste and texture, not waiting time). Upon leaving, I noticed that they plated meals out of a bucket that sat on the counter in plain sight. How do they expect to serve fresh fried chicken if they cook it all at once and serve it from a bucket an hour later?

    I suppose it goes without saying, but I did not like my food there. Though, if you must go, it has to be better during peak hours when they are selling chicken faster.