I love fried chicken, that is, until I moved in Manila. You know the feeling of not wanting something anymore because it’s always there? Well that happened to my relationship with fried chicken because for almost 4 years, I had no other choice but fried chicken for a quick meal since most fast foods (hello Jollibee and McDonald’s!) offer the dish in different value meals. There was even an inside joke between dormers that with our eating habit, we’ll grow wings in no time.
I was getting tired of fried chicken, not even the Chinese-style fried chicken of Chow King can make me eat one (have I typed fried chicken too many times already?). Then, earlier last year, came BonChon and ChickenCharlie. According to BonChon’s facebook page, it is the best chicken in America (as per the New York Times, GQ, and Esquire). Super crispy yet light and not greasy. Hot moist juicy meat. Addictive soy garlic or spicy glaze. On one hand, ChickenCharlie claims that it is the best fried chicken you’ll ever taste. Which one to believe?
I tried ChickenCharlie first because it has a branch near where I live. Their menu was simple. Chicken, fries, dynamite, wedges, rice, and drinks. Chicken in different combos and parts and meals. Anyway, it would not have been named ChickenCharlie if the main offering was pork right?
The place was cozy and small. You’d have to wait for a table sometimes because it can only accommodate less than 30 people (my estimate). Unfortunate for you if some bastards who are already done eating an hour ago still lounge around (yeah yeah it’s their right but we’re all customers, right?). Really nice tho, if you happen to visit during their lean hours.
We ordered chicken (of course) and it was heavenly. Not greasy. Tasty. Crunchy on the outside. I cannot really explain and you cannot really understand unless you taste it. So different from the usual fried chicken my mother cooks, from the fried chicken we grew up eating. I fell in love with fried chicken once again. Oh, it is better eaten with bare hands, especially the wings so leave some of your sophistication at home. You need to get all of those meat and leave only the bones. After that, lick the soy garlic off your fingers. Om nom nom. If eating with rice (which we usually do), order their pickled radish. The sourness complements the sweet and salty taste of the chicken. I don’t eat anything pickled but this one is an exception (I guess I cannot claim that I don’t eat anything pickled anymore).
And their variety of side dishes, according to a friend, is good. According to a friend because I am not a fan of cheesestick dynamites and I like my fries potatoes not yam, even if the latter is the healthier choice. The taste is just weird. Fortunately, in the branch where we frequent, fries are now potatoes. This is what their fries looked like back when it was yam.
And here are my CC-mates who never fails to accompany me when I have one of those cravings.
BonChon is not something I was thrilled to try despite the awesomely positive reviews I hear from friends because the nearest branch was one jeepney ride away which, in my criteria, is far (besides, chickencharlie satisfied me just fine). But as the cliched cliche goes, there’s always a first time for everything. The first time, it was at Greenbelt (or was it Glorietta, I don’t really remember. Basta somewhere in Makati). I was not impressed with the place because it was literally a stampede of people and I do not like big crowds (except during concerts) especially in dining places so we had take out and ate at the nearby Starbucks instead. I was hungry at that time so I just chewed and swallowed without even trying to taste what I was eating.
It was a long time before I ate again because of the same reason stated above. This instance tho, I was able to appreciate what all the hype is about. The branch we ate at was in University Mall along Taft Avenue. The place was bigger which was a plus point for me and given that we arrived late (almost closing time), the place was deserted (another plus point). Since it was near La Salle, green archers were everywhere.
BonChon’s chicken tastes almost like that of ChickenCharlie but more expensive (the 2 drumsticks meal costs 145 php on the former and 135 php on the latter). Maybe because they were both cooked using the double-fry technique (or whatever you call it). But I still prefer, in terms of taste, ChickenCharlie because it has less grease and BonChon’s meat seemed a little bland. All the flavors were concentrated on the skin. After eating the crunchy skin off, you’re left with regular chicken meat.
However, what the chicken lacked, BonChon made up for variety. Their menu is ChickenCharlie’s multiplied by four. Aside from chicken they offer tacos and Bulgogi wraps and Spicy Calamari and fish.
I’m guessing all of the fried offerings in the menu were cooked the same way as the fried chicken and they were also flavored with soy garlic or spicy so they tasted like one another except for the meat part. Anyway, The spicy squid was deliciously spicy (I’m learning to appreciate spicy foods thanks to Dai) but it was cut so thin it felt like you’re eating 75% breading and 25% actual squid.
The best thing about BonChon is their Ko-Yo or Korean Yogurt. I’ve had a thing for yogurts since 2nd year college and this was not an exception. For 70 pesos, you get to choose between Blueberry preserves or Banoffee Pie. I had the latter because I find blueberries sour (and yogurts are already a bit sour) and I love bananas. It was great especially the brown thing (baked graham pie crust) in between those layers of white goodness.
Last Tuesday, May 15, BonChon opened a branch in Robinson’s Manila. Which means it will be easier to go to BonChon than ChickenCharlie. My reason is scratched off. Ha. With Ramm and Dai, we braved the jam-packed place with all the newly-opened hype and ate there for lunch. In exchange, we had this free photo.
Though I love ChickenCharlie more, the Ko-Yo is pulling me towards BonChon so I asked a staff whether they’ll offer the item anytime soon (since it was not on the menu and they cannot probably handle doing yogurts right after opening day). Unfortunately, she said she does not think so because their counter is too small. There you go BonChon. I’m sticking with ChickenCharlie.