FOOD

First look: Korean fried chicken at Bonchon Columbus

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Korean food is having a moment across the country and the city. It's no longer odd to see kimchi on the menu at your favorite gastropub, bulgogi on your cheesesteak sandwich or to create-your-own bibimbap-esq bowl at growing chainlet Bibibop.

But what we didn't have in Columbus was Korean-style fried chicken (hard to believe after 2014's year of the chicken). We've got it now from reputable South Korea-based chain Bonchon, which opened on Dublin-Granville Road a few weeks ago.

What's the big deal? Let's compare. Southern-style fried chicken can be characterized by its cracker-y crust that leaves your plate and lap covered in crumbs. It's delicious, sure. But it's also a messy endeavor. The coating on Korean-style fried chicken clings to the meat like an ultra-crispy and egg-shell-thin wet suit.

Bonchon's is no exception. Drumsticks, wings and strips of white meat are twice-fried at a low temperature-a process credited for achieving crispy skin perfection. Brushed on sauces clung to the crunchy skin like a rich glaze. Diners have a choice of two: a savory-sweet soy garlic (my personal favorite) and red-chili spiked spicy with a heat that builds slowly. You'll feel the latter after a few pieces. When this happens, reach for the accompanying bowl of refreshing cubed pickled daikon radish.

We started with an order I'd recommend to other first timers-a combo of wings and drums with Half & Half sauces so we could try a little of everything. Just as advertised, the chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy inside (though also steaming hot, so be aware).

It's a dish I'll certainly be returning for-but I can't say the same about the rest of the menu. It's a collection of familiar Korean and Japanese fare, like bibimbap, japchae and bulgogi. Don't get me wrong, none of these dishes were bad (my husband loved his spicy Bull Dak), but if it's authentic Korean fare you're craving, head elsewhere (like to Restaurant Silla). Come here for the fried chicken, and you won't be disappointed.