Craig La Ban lowers La Boom on Philadelphia’s first franchise of the Korean fried chicken chain, Bonchon. LaBan drops zero bells on the K-Pop blaring, No-Korean-in-the-kitchen Chinatown outpost.
Bonchon does serve many other Korean favorites beyond wings. But there isn’t a single Korean in the kitchen at this Bonchon, owned by Chinese Americans (“I have Korean friends,” Taing notes). And it shows with off-key renditions of bibimbap (with mushy rice), dully flavorless japchae noodles (despite a splash of sweet soy wing sauce), and a seafood-scallion pancake scorched black on the bottom.
Hyped Korean chicken chain arrives, disappoints [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Craig LaBan smashes The Saint James in Ardmore with a stinging no-bell review. Plates were dropped with regularity,the meat was over-cooked and salads were under seasoned. Is the problem, the location?
Finding skilled restaurant workers in the burbs is “painful,” says Schulson, whose Saint James kitchen had an 85 percent turnover in the first three months. But the problem is as much economic as geographic, he concedes, with line-cook wages only barely above what some say they’d receive in unemployment compensation. The culinary passion that drives many young chefs through that rite of passage is especially scarce outside the city. But given that Moon told me “only the sous-chef and a dishwasher” remained in his kitchen since my final visit, just a week before our conversation, I’d suggest that a pay increase is in order. Or perhaps these owners just aren’t cut out for multiple restaurants.
No Bells – Poor
The Saint James [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The Saint James [Official Site]