Is it possible that when a chicken says “Bok a Bok,” it means “golden and delicious”?
If so, chef Brian O’Conner has named his restaurant correctly.
Bok a Bok is about Korean fried chicken, the new KFC. You can order it straight up or on a sandwich. Holding the bun, I opted for the dark meat of chicken thighs and wings, though I understand that the strips of chicken breast remain remarkably juicy.
The thighs are twice-fried, with some vodka (soju would be an even more Korean option) added to the batter to keep it light. Frying is perfect, with the crust greaseless and crunchy—even after 30 minutes of sitting, which will make takeout fans happy. (An option you might want to consider given the limited seating.)
Fans of fried food might like the wings even better, given their increased crust-to-meat ratio. They’re great vehicles for trying all four of Bok a Bok’s sauces. I ranked them from favorite to least favorite: Korean BBQ, 4-chili hot sauce, Bok a Bok ranch, and sesame soy garlic (which I found a bit too sweet). Some might say that “authentic” KFC should come already glazed with sauce, but serving it on the side actually helps keep the crust crispy.
Consider those sauces if you’re contemplating a sandwich, which feature all of the sauces except ranch. I bet they’re amazing, especially considering chef Brian O’Conner’s previous work at Skillet, where the “fried chicken sammy” was a specialty. Then again, the yuzu green chili chicken sandwich with dill pickles and yuzu aioli sounds like it might be a citrusy and briny winner.
Don’t forget sides. The sweet potato tots with Korean chili salt are okay, though I missed the regular tot’s textural contrast between soft interior and crunchy exterior. The kimchi mac n’ cheese is intriguing, as it foregoes the usual elbow pasta in favor of ear-shaped orecchiette pasta. It’s cheesy and flavorful, though I’d prefer a little more heat and funk in the kimchi (confirmed by tasting a side order of plain kimchi). This is a sourcing issue, and I understand that Bok a Bok is on the case.
I’m so happy to see what would be a hipster restaurant in a non-hipster (or soon-to-be hipster?) place: White Center. Even at 2pm on a recent weekday, people were flowing in, with every table taken. This surely sets the stage for expansion. While I know the Capitol Hill crowd would go crazy for Bok a Bok’s fried chicken, my money’s on a future location south of Seattle.