Bonchon – San Leandro

Bonchon is currently in their soft opening phase in a brand new San Leandro location. We’ve seen the “coming soon” signs up for seemingly forever. Finally, the time has come to try Bonchon in San Leandro. They specialize in Korean fried chicken.

It’s a welcomed addition to an otherwise somewhat sad mall off Davis St., where you can find standouts Sizzler and McDonald’s. We had been to one Bonchon location before I believe in Boston, although that was quite some time ago.

I didn’t know they had so many locations all over the country and worldwide.

We had to wait a few minutes for them to clear a table as it was pretty busy. With it being a soft opening, expectations have to be tempered and one should expect to experience some issues to work out. After all, that’s what a soft opening is for. A lot of people don’t realize that and are too hard on new restaurant openings.

Of course we had to get their bread and butter fried chicken. We got the combination so we could try the wings and the drumsticks. They let you choose between two sauces, spicy and soy garlic, or you can do half and half. You already know did half and half so we could taste both sauces.

The menu says to please be patient as the chicken could take 30 minutes to cook. Ours however, only took about 10 minutes. This part of the process I expected to actually take the full 30 minutes, especially during their soft opening. No complaints here!

Combo – 4 wings + 2 drumsticks, spicy and soy garlic sauce ($13.95)

The chicken came out piping hot, with crispy skin, and juicy meat. The spicy sauce had good heat that had strong staying power. It wasn’t unbearable, but slowly built over time and lingered well after each bite. We patted ourself on our backs for ordering the soy garlic as the sweetness and tang mellowed out the spiciness of the other pieces. Each chicken order also comes with either coleslaw or pickled radishes. We like pickled anything and went with the radishes. It too helped neutralize the spice that had at this point completely engulfed our tongues.

Bibimbap – white rice, quinoa, assorted seasonal vegetables, egg noodles, with tofu and Bonchon red pepper paste ($13.95)

If we just got fried chicken we’d probably feel guilty. So in an effort to up our veggie game we ordered the bibimbap with tofu. It came in a hot stone bowl. The addition of scrambled egg I wasn’t used to seeing but it was nice. And quinoa, whoa now. We probably would have added more of the hot sauce if not for the spicy wing sauce still wreaking havoc on our mouths. I enjoyed the different textures and flavors and am glad we tried it.

Final Thoughts

Any new addition to the San Leandro food scene is a welcomed one. We have been living in the area for about a year now and find ourselves getting bored going to the same places over and over again. The chicken was good and on par with Chicken on Fire, although I think I like the skin and sauce slightly more here at Bonchon in San Leandro. We’ll definitely be coming back to try some of their other items like the tacos, and rice cake dishes.

Minor Soft Opening Woes

We asked for extra napkins and they brought out two whole napkins. For sticky fried chicken these two napkins would last us maybe two pieces of chicken. Second issue was when they brought out the bibimbap, they didn’t give us a spoon to mix all the ingredients together and serve. Once we realized it missing we asked our server for a spoon and he said “oh, they forgot to give you a spoon?” Then he proceeded to forget to bring it to us a second time. Another server noticed us waiting for our spoon and quickly brought us one. Third time’s a charm! These things weren’t huge issues and can easily be improved upon.

The F had a good idea for soft openings. Offer a minor discount, maybe 5% for people to fill out a short survey on the food and service. That’s a pretty cheap price to pay for immediate feedback. Feedback that might otherwise get on Yelp instead. They need to start doing this!

Are you excited to try the new Bonchon? What would you want to try?

1275 Washington Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577

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