The long-delayed, much-hyped Korean fried chicken chain Kyochon finally opened its $2 million Midtown flagship last week, with long lines and plenty of buzz. Today, lunch service makes its debut, but before queuing up over on 5th Ave., take a look at the early word. Some first responders suggest portions that are small, pricey and underwhelming.
The Mostly Good News: The folks over at MadParkNews enjoyed their food enough to deliver a mostly positive review: "It's good, but it's fried fast food. The hot and sweet wings pack a punch of heat, and the Sal Sal chicken strips are coated in rice puffs but could use a sauce. The bite size soy garlic wings had the better flavor and are definitely worth trying as it is a different taste than standard American fried chicken, but I don't think they will blow you away if you have had good wings before. They are solid though." [MadParkNews]
The Expensive News: On Foursquare, Kyochon has proved a popular check-in spot, but user Ann C. was disappointed. "The food was awful. The chicken was cold and the portions were sooo small. Save yourself the trip and wait till they work out the kinks of the business." Ben K. also had his gripes about the price: "Save your money and go to BonChon at 38th and 7th! Chicken is so much fresher and bigger portions." [Foursquare]
The Bad News: Yelpers have taken to an almost unanimous savage bashing. Emily C. said she had tried an outlet of Kyochon on a previous trip to Korea. "We have been anticipating the opening day of Kyochon in Manhattan for many moons. AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO DISAPPOINTED. Food, lackluster at best. The waiters and waitresses are friendly and bring the food out quickly, but I wouldn't mind waiting an extra 15-20 minutes for some better food. (Let it be known that I was slightly intoxicated at the time, but) I could barely taste the soy garlic flavor that I have spent the past few years longing for." Meanwhile, John J. had issues with the size of the chicken. "Flavoring was alright and the wings were the size of my thumb...some my pinky. Major dissappointment and possibly the most overrated food intro I have come across. We got some serious stye over substance issues going on in here...I ain't going to be a sucka twice." [Yelp]
The Good News: Not all is lost on Yelp, however. Among the (few) positive words, Paul D. said that after hearing many negative reviews he was skeptical, but enjoyed the sweet and spicy wings over the soy garlic. "I was resigned to disappointment as I finished my box of soy garlic wings. However, there was still the box of sweet and spicy wings. I took my first bite as I prepared to board my train home. Boom! A perfect blend of sweet and spicy and one hell of a kick, too. It was worth it! It was all worth it!" [Yelp]
The Not so Great News:concludes a disappointed NYC Food Guy: "Sadly, I think McDonald’s, particularly in it’s current 'we’re hip, we’re healthy' incarnation, is the appropriate comparison because as Chris, the solo eater seated next to me said, 'this is just fast food.' He was right, it underwhelmed the way a new fast food restaurant would: buzz and excitement surrounding the first branch’s opening and then you’re hit with high prices, high salt content and disappointing food. That being said, this is still a novel experience for most people and if you can afford it, it’s worth trying for the Hot & Sweet sauce alone because at least that will leave a lasting impression." [NYC Food Guy]
The "Awful" News: Over at the New York Times' Diner's Journal, commenter kitkatbreak had multiple complaints about the dining experience. "The chicken pieces were tiny, not crispy and they were not even warm--let alone hot. You can't mix flavors or order drumstick+wing combo. The spicy is WAY too spicy without flavor and the soy garlic was WAY too salty...The layout of the new place was very poorly designed.. looks sleek on the surface but very non-customer friendly with lots of wasted space." The service also left something to be desired: "The servers were very poorly trained and didn't really know anything. Even if they improve, I don't think I'll ever set foot in that place again. It's beyond bad. It was really awful." [Diner's Journal]