I pride myself in my knowledge of coffee and the coffee experience. With that said, I hate Starbucks just for the fact that the coffee tastes burnt and their other offerings are just calorie bombs. When I see locations around the world, I shed a tear like an American Indian when he sees litter on the highway.
Now, we have a serious world challenger for Starbucks domination in Caffe Bene. The Korean chain founded in 2008 already has 900 location around the world. There are already 14 states in America with a Caffe Bene. Where I live in NJ, there will be 14 locations. The Korean section of Ft. Lee were one of the first outposts.
The important question is how’s the coffee drinks? Again, I’ve been to Italy multiple times, around Europe where coffee is an art form and paid the equivalent of $9 for a cup of coffee in Tokyo from a $20,000 siphon coffee machine. Caffe Bene’s coffee is … okay. Thankfully, it doesn’t have that acidity aftertaste that Starbucks has, instead it has a creamy quality.
You’ll get a better cup than Starbucks, but go to your pretentious hipster coffee place like Stumptown or Blue Bottle. If you can brave the beardo or the heavily tattooed lady barista, you’ll get something memorable.
You’re going to the store because of the bubble tea. We haven’t fully embraced the paradise known as bubble tea — those tapioca pearls in milk tea you slurp through a thick straw. Not a joke, but it’s suppose to simulate a baby sucking on a mother’s breasts.
Then we have Korean BBQ chicken wings. Bonchon being the champion of it. There are nine states and D.C. that have locations of the simple restaurant chain. It’s just wings, drums, tenders, fries, rice and pickled radish.
The reason to go is the wings, duh. It’s the taste sensation that your palate is dying for. If the wings for a chain restaurant are this tasty, I can imagine how great they will be in Seoul, South Korean. Not sure if North Korean has embraced the chicken wing, or anything for that matter.
The trick is that the wings are fried twice in olive oil similar to how Belgians fry frites. Korean only use the wings and small drums, rather than whole thighs and breasts like we do in America. The result is a thin skin that isn’t greasy, but remains strong when you hold it
The sauce is key because it just the right amount of flavor and heat that doesn’t overpower. The crunch is consistent with each bite. I have easily finished a large order in one sitting … and I don’t regret it.