Never before has there been a Korean-style restaurant at UConn. That is, until Sept. 12, when BonChon opened up in the top floor of University Plaza in Storrs Center.
The Korean fusion restaurant has bar seating and comfortable booths in a surprisingly sizable dining area. Once seated, I immediately noticed a placemat with a number of translations for Korean phrases and descriptions of traditional Korean dishes, along with the significance of the symbols on the Korean flag. Another thing I noticed was the silverware, or lack thereof.
The service was quick and helpful, but each plate came with just a fork, which is fine until you find yourself struggling to cut your food. Eventually, we asked for knives and were provided with them, but it would have been nice to have been given knives right off the bat.
BonChon’s menu includes a wide array of traditional Korean dishes as well as more Americanized meals that would appeal to someone not looking to try something new. Ultimately, I picked the more Americanized meals, but enjoyed the dishes enough that I’d come back and try some of the more traditional Korean meals, such as bibimbap, chicken katsu or bulgogi.
My co-reviewers and I decided to split the potstickers, the famed BonChon chicken strips and the pork buns. The potstickers and pork buns both came on long, narrow dishes.
The savory potstickers were essentially fried dumplings stuffed with pork and a vegetable–mostly cabbage–filling. Topped with either BonChon’s spicy sauce or a soy garlic sauce, the potstickers melted in my mouth. The spicy sauce wasn’t too overpowering, but had a tough aftertaste with a kick that stayed with me for a little while.
The chicken strips, also coming glazed in spicy or soy garlic sauce, were perfectly crunchy and crispy without being overly breaded. The glazing was not extravagant, enough to add flavor, but sometimes not strong enough to enjoy the flavor fully. The small bowl of pickled radish that they were served with counterbalanced the spicy chicken well.
Across the board, the soy garlic-flavored potstickers and chicken strips were some of our favorites. It felt as though the soy garlic sauce complemented the flavor of the fried dishes better than the spicy sauce did, especially with the potstickers and the vegetable filling. The aftertaste was also not as harsh, so I felt better afterwards.
Our main course of pork buns had a very doughy “shell” and was topped with house katsu sauce, coleslaw and cucumbers layered over a savory slice of fried pork belly. The coleslaw and cucumbers, in particular, perfectly complemented the pork and katsu sauce, bringing down the spicy flavor and adding texture to the meal. The doughy outside melded with the excellently-filled inside and made for my favorite dish of the evening.
Personally, I was definitely pleased with BonChon overall. The restaurant brings a niche style of food to campus that we haven’t really had at UConn and offers takeout as well for those who don’t want to sit down and eat. I definitely expect to return in the near future to try out some of the more traditional Korean dishes.