Deep fried food does not have the allure to me that it does for many other people. I always envision the bad version of fried – fast food chains; evidence of oil stains, long after you’ve swallowed the food, upon your fingers, chin and clothing; and the arteries slowly hardening. After a trip down South though, the smell of fried chicken lingers every now and then in my nostrils. I can’t imagine where I could get anything that resembles the crispiness without the greasiness.
Who would have thought the answer could be in Korean fried chicken. Admittedly, I have KFC crispy fried chicken in my mind as a taste barometer. I haven’t eaten it in a long time because of the factors I listed above, but somehow that chain does the skin crispy and cracklin’. One Korean friend suggested Bon Chon in Fort Lee as one of the better of these trend-setting places. Another recommended Boom Boom, also in Fort Lee. Two similar sounding eateries serving the same specific type of food in the same town? What else could I do besides a taste test.
To be fair, I went with the same parts – none other than the drumstick. Pricing being relatively equal, Boom Boom offers six pieces for $12.00, whereas Bon Chon offers five pieces for $11.95. Both provide a small container of cubes of pickled radish as a side. Bon Chon’s drums were significantly larger, so I bit into one of those first. Crispy? Yes. Oil on the fingers? No. The ginger/soy flavor infused in the skin, however, was on the sweet side. Then I sunk my teeth into the smaller Bon Chon drumstick. It reminded me of the old Thomas’ English Muffins commercials emphasizing the crunchy nooks and crannies. The skin had more texture and gave off more of a snap-crackle-pop.
The winner, and less-sweet-tasting for me was Boom Boom. It is easy to confuse the two percussion-sounding names, but if you make a mistake and do a little boom boom when you should’ve bon chon, you might only slightly realize the difference in sound. The trick of the clean Korean crisp is to twice fry the parts. Maybe they feel that the name even needs to be done twice. Other establishments in the vicinity, not taste-tested, include Peck Peck in Teaneck and Yam Yam, also in Fort Lee.