FOOD: Korean Fried Chicken Duel – Bon Chon vs Chi-Mc [DC]

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After a long day of cycling just outside the Nation’s Capital, I worked up a major appetite.  When I think of the South, I picture succulent, flavorful fried chicken simmering in a skillet full of lard. Although that would probably be amazing, I wanted to stay awake and catch the United States’ World Cup match.  So I opted for the alternative version, KFC and I’m not referring to the Colonel.  

Korean Fried Chicken is twice fried, like Belgian frites, to create a extra crispy skin trapping moisture inside the yardbird.  Then, it’s brushed with a yummy sauce.  Because of this intricate process, it is necessary to order your wings in advance.  I, along with most people, love Bon Chon. It’s definitely the local favorite, with locations in Arlington, Rockville, and Ellicott City.  Chi-Mc, is located in a strip mall in Annadale, and used to be a Bon Chon franchise until the owners decided to go indie.  Both restaurants offer wings, legs, or a combination with soy garlic and spicy sauces.

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The texture of both wings were indistinguishable.  The crispness of the wings seemed to last forever and a day, which would make perfect for a midnight snack.  The differences were noted in the sauces, but it’s so mild that most people would not be able to tell.  Bon Chon was slightly sweeter whereas Chi-Mc was a hint spicier.  With ethnic food, I love that it typically does not take a refined palate to detect the nuances in the cuisine.  But what I love about both places is the sauce does not ruin the wing like their over-sauced Buffalo counterparts.  Both places offer Korean starters and entrees, but Chi-Mc is a bit more traditional than Bon Chon.  However, Bon Chon’s decor and ambiance can’t be matched.  Either way, you really can’t go wrong.  And let’s face it, the chicken is the star of the show.  I have been known to frequent both establishments and do not see that changing any time soon.  Typically, the chicken takes eons to prepare, so be sure to call ahead and preorder.

I paired the crispy chicken with kale sautéed with mushrooms in a soy sauce, vinegar, and sriracha concoction.  To cool off the heat, I threw back a Saison Rustica (with hints of lemongrass, peppercorns, star anise, and grass) from Hardywood Brewery out of Richmond, VA.

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 Bon Chon Arlington
2201 N. Pershing Drive
Suite E
Arlington, VA 22201

Chi-Mc
6653 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003