What makes a dumpling a dumpling? The global term is so all-encompassing that it can basically mean anything wrapped in dough then fried, baked, steamed or simmered, no matter the country of origin.
Now you can have a taste of Korean Mandu in Bonchon, the brand famous for making Korean fried chicken mainstream in the country. Recently, they’ve introduced their take on the classic Korean mandu, which tastes traditional, but is also modern. So what is it about them that sets them apart?
While most fried mandu are just left in a pan to create a crust, BonChon’s dumplings are glazed and coated with the signature sauces that have set them apart from other dumplings. If their soy garlic and spicy glazes are the reason why they’ve become so popular, why not use this formula with another product? What it creates is a crunchy varnish of pastry, which envelopes the filling inside. It feels sincerely genius, and adds an extra dose of signature Korean spicy-sweetness to the mandu. While most dumpling wrappers come unadorned, the glaze creates a crisp layer of crust that crackles into crunchy flakes as your teeth break through it to meet the filling inside.
Though there are no set rules to creating a Korean mandu, a lot are made with pork and vegetables, beef, fish, even their beloved fermented kimchi. Here, the crescent-shaped pieces are filled with real ground chicken pieces that don’t feel artificial. The inconsistency of the shredded and minced chicken is welcome here, because every bite brings in different textures, ensuring the quality of the meat. The mixture is seasoned too, with minced vegetables and the distinct pungency of gochujang adding real depth to the blend.
The seemingly endless combinations available with BonChon’s mandu enhance the experience, making pitch-perfect partners to the dumplings. Get it with plain rice and make the glazed treats the star, or add a few more bucks to have it with umami-laden Seoul fried rice. Splurge a little more, and you can have it with a bulgogi noodle soup, whose sweetness would temper a spicy glazed mandu. Each order of the dumplings also come with a soy dipping sauce strewn with sesame seeds, that is best when poured over the chicken filling. It looks and feels just like a Korean feast.