The Other KFC

First Bite: BonChon Katy

The spicy, crispy wings are flying out the door.

By Alice Levitt May 31, 2016

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Small combo, $12.95.

Image: Alice Levitt

Busan-based wing chain BonChon has landed in Katy. The restaurant is the first in what will be a series of openings for the chain in the Houston area, including locations in Pearland and The Woodlands. The first of these spots, located at 24437 Katy Freeway, is still in its soft opening, but that's not keeping the crowds away. On Saturday evening at 6 p.m., there was a half hour wait for a table. Consequently, there's no takeout yet, as it would overwhelm the kitchen staff that's still finding its feet.

Luckily, there were seats at the bar, and I sat next to a couple who had been fans of a link in the BonChon chain in Washington, D.C. They were impressed at the size of the menu—some BonChons focus just on fried chicken, while others have both a full Korean menu and a sushi bar—Katy falls somewhere in between with a range of fried snacks such as takoyaki and calamari, Korean comfort food including tteokbokki and bibimbap, and fusion creations like Korean tacos and salads.

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A chicken ain't nothin' but a bird.

Image: Alice Levitt

But the chicken is the thing: Despite warnings on the menu that frying to order could take as much as half an hour, my poultry arrived in less than half that time. And it was a Korean Goldilocks' just right: Moist inside, prodigiously crisp outside and coated so lightly in sauce that I barely needed a napkin. The soy-garlic was sweet with the allium, but the spicy was even better. Its lick of fire made my lips burn but wasn't so intense as not to be cooled by cubes of house-pickled radishes.

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Bulgogi sliders, $10.95.

Image: Alice Levitt

It was hard to choose another item, but bulgogi sliders sounded like too much fun to miss. They were not quite as described on the menu. I was expecting a pile of marinated ribeye, but was instead presented with burger patties. They were, however, flavored with sweet, gingery bulgogi marinade. Fresh cucumbers and crunchy slaw were a nice contrast to the soft-on-soft of the burger and bun. But next time (and there will be a next time), I'll more likely pair my chicken with japchae or bul dak.

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Chocolate Brownie Delight, $3.59.

Image: Alice Levitt

And until BonChon adds desserts to its menu (a manager said he's working on it), I'll walk a few doors down to Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers for a sundae or concrete. Nothing can cool the prickly heat of Korean wings quite like chocolate soft serve drenched in hot fudge.

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