Chicken wings are just chicken wings. . . right? It’s a classic American tradition to order wings and beer while watching a game. You might choose between buffalo wings or sweet barbeque or spicy flavored options.
Bon Chon Chicken, a Korean fried chicken restaurant, has taken up residence on Franklin Street next to Linda’s. It offers soy garlic flavored and spicy chicken wings along with other Korean sides and dishes.
The franchise has around 63 locations in multiple U.S. cities, including New York and Charlotte. It’s heralded for bringing a Korean twist to the classic wings and beer restaurant experience. The restaurant has a different atmosphere than fast food fried chicken places, like KFC or Bojangles.
“In Korean culture, they have this tradition where they love fried chicken with beer, which is why we have a bar,” said Selena Zhang, Bon Chon’s shift manager. “It’s just something they’ve thought went really well together.”
Bon Chon maintains this relaxed atmosphere by offering lunch specials and providing service at the bar as well as traditional sit-down service.
The Chapel Hill location has enjoyed a healthy amount of popularity after its soft opening in January. While the staff was learning the ropes and adjusting to the new place, some customers were getting their first taste of Korean culture. Others were delighted with the familiar taste of classic Korean cooking.
Clara Wong, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, visited Bon Chon the first week it opened and was excited to see the restaurant move to Franklin Street after frequenting the franchise in her hometown in Maryland.
“Asian cuisine is my favorite, especially when you can put a twist on it,” said Wong. “It’s always nice when I don’t have to cook it and it’s hard to find good Asian cuisine in the Triangle.”
While Bon Chon is known for their fried chicken wings and bibimbap bowls (a rice bowl with vegetables and a fried egg or beef), Zhang prefers the chicken sliders.
“They’re pretty spicy, and you can also get the chicken spicy in the sliders,” Zhang said.
Bon Chon isn’t just another fried chicken joint for Zhang, either. She started working there in January, soon after the Chapel Hill location opened. The UNC senior is involved in the Asian community at UNC, and Bon Chon has become an extension of those connections, she said.
“It’s a Korean restaurant, but it’s actually owned by Chinese people and I’m Chinese,” Zhang said. “So coming in and being able to speak Chinese with the owners really makes it feels like a family.”
Zhang, among many others, is excited to see more Asian cuisine options in Chapel Hill.
“That’s why this place is popular because we have a big Asian community at UNC and of course everyone wants Asian food,” Zhang said.