We found ourselves at a loss as we sauntered through the cool avenues of Central World, Bangkok. Flanked on both sides by restaurants, all of which purported to harbour a plethora of delicious cuisines behind their darkened thresholds – smorgasbords of Thai treats, whispers of juicy burgers and the allure of upmarket extravagance whirl-pooled around us – we were simply awash with choice. Combined the the low-lying clouds of the days hangover, the decision seemed altogether too much for three people to agree upon. As we strolled aimlessly the deep, rumbling calls from within our stomachs seemed destined to go unanswered. That was until we found ourselves standing outside BonChon. Scanning the menu with ravenous eyes, BonChon claimed to offer Korean fried chicken, boasting it to be ‘the crispiest, juiciest fried chicken’ a man could hope to grab with his greedy fingers.
Before I continue, I must admit that I’m drawn like a moth to the flame to the neon-lights of fried chicken vendors. I have been known to walk, run and literally crawl across doorsteps for a taste of fried heaven. Now I will not call myself a connoisseur of fried chicken, this would place too much grandeur on the food of the everyman. And to declare myself an addict conjures images of gross obesity – a White Goodman clawing another drumstick from the bucket in a depraved cycle of despair and shame. No. I prefer to be consider myself a disillusioned enthusiast, all too aware of the trappings fried chicken can bring.
Ever since Colonel Harland Sanders gifted the world with his eleven essential herbs and spices, it has been voraciously consumed around the globe. The grasping fingers of mass consumerism and globalisation have saturated the market, imitated the recipe beyond recognition, leaving the common man wading through a murky pool of grease in the hope of fried perfection. And yet as I peered through into the restaurant I felt a jolt of excitement – perhaps this would be different. It was crowded with tables of upbeat Thais, all gleeful and gratified by what they had, or were about to consume. Eyeing the response of Aspinall and Party Rush, their wolfish smiles betrayed that their interest had been piqued.
We requested a table and after a short wait were seated by a window at the rear of the restaurant, ironically
overlooking an almost empty KFC. The Colonel peered down upon us smiling in what seemed like amused admonishment, mocking the insensibility of our choice. But it would be us who would enjoy the last laugh. Menus were dispensed and we immediately sought the fried chicken. The chicken is served in two flavours – Soy & Garlic and Hot – and is served in varying combinations of drumsticks, thighs and wings matched with sides. For myself I ordered three drumsticks of the Hot with kimchi coleslaw; the others shared a mixed flavour platter of drumsticks and wings.
Our wait was avariciously impatient as gluttony swirled around the table. Glancing to tables beside us, we glimpsed glistening skin and caught satisfied sighs in the air. But the wait is worth the prize. As our stomachs roared with anticipation our food arrived, delivered impeccably; three drumsticks laid gently side by side on a squared plate, the mixed platter a uniformed phalanx of crunchy chicken pieces guarding the gateway a to fried Shangri-la.
To say that the first bite was a parenthesis in time feels like I understate the point. The skin is as crispy and crunchy as anything I have ever experienced, cracking beneath the pressure to reveal the wonderfully moist, tender meat beneath. The generousness glaze of the Hot sauce tingles the lips and marries beautifully with the chicken. The Soy & Garlic, whilst not packing the same punch as the Hot, is extremely flavoursome with the garlic being reined in to ensure that it is not too overbearing. The kimchi coleslaw provides a refreshing side, cleansing the palate and cooling the tongue between pieces.
It is difficult to measure the time it took to return from the taste delirium that consumed us all during the feast. Each of us sat in a stunned silence that was broken only by murmurs of disbelief. The chicken is quite simply exquisite and by far the finest I have ever tasted. As we placed the final bones into the dainty metal bucket, I gave a look back toward the ever-smiling face of the Colonel, he no longer held a mocking stare but rather appeared tainted with a measure of sadness, recognition that he has finally been usurped.
Not quite convinced this is the best chicken ever? Watch the video below.