Korean fried chicken restaurant Bonchon opens in Berkeley

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Bonchon, a Korean fried chicken and wings restaurant, opened a new location at 2050 Berkeley Way.

The restaurant is known internationally for its one-of-a-kind sweet and savory flavors and its double fried chicken.

“Bonchon is known for its fried chicken — there’s soy garlic and spicy sauce. It’s very simple to make fried chicken, but it takes time to do it,” said Phuong Phan, owner of the new Bonchon in Berkeley. “We have other dishes like japchae, bibimbap and other popular Korean dishes.”

The new location is just one of many since Bonchon first came to the United States and began opening franchises. The menu also features American-inspired sides, including french fries and onion rings.

“In South Korea, there are a lot of fried chicken (restaurants), and they all have their own unique flavor,” Phan said. “But Bonchon, in Korea, stood out, and the owner of Bonchon in South Korea came to the U.S. and opened one in New York, and it was an even bigger hit in New York than South Korea.”

According to the company’s website, “Bonchon” means “my hometown” in Korean.

Bonchon expanded beyond its first location in Busan, South Korea with the goal of giving people a taste of Korean roots with Asian fusion cuisine.

Phan said he initially had the idea of opening his own Bonchon store during his first visit to another Bonchon location.

“After I had the food, I was like, ‘Wow, this is really good,’ and I realized why people liked it so much,” Phan said. “I went home and did a little more research and filled out the franchise application.”

Phan said he chose the Berkeley location because while many students know of Bonchon, there aren’t any locations close to Berkeley.

“I know that Berkeley has a lot of great restaurants, but something like Bonchon, there’s nothing like it in Berkeley’s surrounding area,” Phan said.

The new location is good news for fans of Bonchon who had to go elsewhere in the Bay Area to get their dose of fried chicken, according to Phan.

“Even though Bonchon is my side business, I put my heart and soul in it, and it took me a year and three months to get this place running,” Phan said. “We tried to make sure that everything worked out perfectly. … I hope that UC Berkeley students will come and give us a chance and try our food.”

Contact Phil Zhang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @philzhangDC.