As we order, our waiter makes it clear what the restaurant wants us to try. Bonchon’s Almaden location is still in its soft opening, but even with some items on the menu yet to become available there is still quite a bit to choose from.

“Our thing is the chicken wings,” the server says from behind the granite bar top. “If you don’t get the chicken wings, you’re not eating here.”

Newcomers to Bonchon are getting to be few and far between. With five new locations in the Bay Area, the fast casual chain is making a serious push here. Which makes sense. Bonchon takes nightlife food from Korea, Japan and America and puts it all together in a way that doesn’t feel scattershot. Bibimbap, burger sliders and Takoyaki (balls of fried octopus with Japanese mayo and paper thin flakes of bonito) all sit comfortably next to each other on the menu.

I’m a pescatarian, so maybe I didn’t really eat here, according to our waiter, but I did order a number of different items on the menu.

Having been to Japan a few times, I ordered the Takoyaki, which was surprisingly affordable at  $6.95. The plate comes with six sizeable balls of fried octopus, with a sensible amount of mayo and katsu sauce drizzled on top. It’s a fishy dish, creamy inside its fried exterior, so it might not be for everyone, but simply being able to get this Japanese treat in Almaden—and for this cheap—should be enough to convince many people to make a visit.

The Japchae ($13.95) is a hefty bowl of glass noodles, vegetables and marinated beef, flavored with the house soy garlic sauce and stir fried with sesame oil. Though it might be a little on the expensive side for what it is (mostly glass noodles), the flavor is quite good—sweet from the red pepper and onions, well balanced—and the portion is definitely enough for a meal.

The menu also included signature seasoned fries ($6.95), which sounded a little better than they tasted. Advertised as “tossed with house seasoning and parmesan cheese,” there was little seasoning to taste beside the copious shredded parm visible on each fry. As a signature, it leaves a little to be desired, but most people won’t be coming here for fries anyway. It’s all about the fried chicken.

If you’re looking for casual dining in the South Bay, Bonchon (Korean for “my hometown”) is a tasty, affordable and interesting addition. With a fairly original combination of menu items, it just might have something to please everyone.

Bonchon Almaden 
1375 Blossom Hill Rd #66, San Jose.