Since we weren't going to grill, we stopped for some Korean standard entrées. The big disappointment is that there's no "banchan" at BonChon. You can get the daikon cubes, and should, or cole slaw ($1.95), and even french fries ($3.95). The rice ($1.95 as a side with appetizers), sticky enough to eat with chopsticks, is included in dinners and fairly fragrant.
In general, the dinners are slightly more expensive and not as good as you get in your neighborhood Korean/sushi place (and certainly not as good as my neighborhood Korean/sushi place, J.P. Seafood). This was really notable with my usual: stir-fried spicy squid and vegetables ($16.95). The galbi ($18.95), that invulnerable marinated short-rib dish, was marred only by undercooked broccoli. Given that it is served on a metal sizzle platter that sometimes overcooks noodles or onions, I pushed around the green broccoli florets hopefully. It didn't help.
This is not much of a restaurant for vegetarians. The likeliest item is okdol bibim bap ($12.95), a layered stew (easily broken up for banchan parts, hint, hint) served in a hot stone bowl (the original sizzle platter). Ours wasn't steaming, but hot enough to cook the raw egg dropped on top, a feature that shocks newcomers. Just stir it in.
The next idea was mandu guk ($11.95), a vegetable broth of superior vegetable dumplings with slices of rice pasta, cellophane noodles, napa cabbage, and other veggies. You just tell them to hold the beef slices, which go in at the end in any case.
Service at BonChon is quick and friendly, and the people in line in front of you are easily hypnotized into getting take-out instead of your table.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at email@example.com.
$$ |BONCHON CHICKEN |57 JFK STREET (BASEMENT), CAMBRIDGE (HARVARD SQUARE) | 617.868.0981 | BONCHON.COM | OPEN SUNDAY–WEDNESDAY, 11:30 AM–12 AM, AND THURSDAY–SATURDAY, 11:30 AM–1 AM | AE, DI, MC, VI | NO LIQUOR | NO VALET PARKING | RAMPED ACCESS AND ELEVATOR DOWN TO BASEMENT LEVEL