I love being Asian.
I love our languages, our tiny bit of melanin that makes it almost impossible to get sunburned, the fact that we look young until we hit 70 (and then we look like centenarians).
But what I love most is our food.
Growing up Japanese-American in Greensboro, it was often hard to find good Asian food.
Sure, there were a few Americanized Chinese take-out places and the occasional Thai joint, but I mostly got my fill from the homemade wok-to-table meals that my mom cooked or from the long list of places we visited when in cities like New York.
It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that Greensboro has really begun to embrace its full potential of becoming a multicultural foodie dream.
Since then more places have popped up, adding to the mainstays like Asahi, Pho Hien Vuong and Seoul Garden. And there’s about to be one more.
Recently, on our way to Mellow Mushroom for date night in downtown, I noticed a “Coming Soon” hanging in a window. It was for Bonchon, the new and improved KFC — Korean fried chicken.
I was hype.
The franchise began in 2002 in South Korea and has since boomed and gone international, with more than 100 locations in the Philippines and 88 stores in the US so far. We actually have the second most stores per country in the world; South Korea can only claim 10!
It’s not that this fried chicken is good; it’s damn good.
These legs and wings are twice-fried, making them less greasy but adding more crunch. Then they’re hand-painted with a sauce brush. I mean, come on!
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Southern fried chicken. Dames and my mom’s renditions are my all-time favorites. But Korean fried chicken has become a phenomenon because it’s delicious and people know it. Sure, it’s a fad like sushi or bao, but KFC has entered our American culinary dimension and I’m willing to bet it’s here to stay.
Just like the dumplings from May Way or the boba and smoothies from Master Tea, Bonchon will work to introduce another layer of Asian, specifically, Korean cuisine to a more mainstream audience, further entrenching the idea that Asian food is American food.
When we continue to see white, “acclaimed” chefs like Andy Zimmern and Gordon Ramsay opening up Asian restaurants, it’s nice to see that restaurants with Asian chefs and ties can turn a profit.
Judging by the cluttered storefront, it looks like there’s still a while before Bonchon opens its doors, but on opening day, I’ll see you in line.