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Kaboom Chicken in Riverside at Queen and Broadview serves Korean street style food Based on Korean inspired recipes with a modern spin, the menu includes Korean Fried Chicken. Kaboom Chicken is open six days a week, closed Sundays.

Review: Kaboom more like a whimper

By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on January 26, 2017

The fact that Kaboom Chicken already has a steady stream of walk-ins for take-out is a good sign, no? Granted the Riverside/Leslieville area at Queen and Broadview doesn't offer much in the way of good take-out other than pizza joints and a Subway. So bros-in-law Chris Stevens and Richard Lee decided their food-truck style Korean fried chicken would be a good fit for this steadily gentrifying section of town.

It certainly sounds more appealing than chain ‘zza. And the concept does seem to be, uhmm, exploding. One guy saunters in so excited about last night's meal he just couldn’t wait to have it again; another is a mother and son picking up dinner for the family. Did I hear right? A whopping $200. It ain't KFC, but really.

Okay, the chef/cook owners, all of whom are self-taught, claim to make everything in-house except for the sandwich bread. And there are no plans for a liquor license. But the big question I have is this: is the Instagram-worthy ramen burger and their signature fried chicken worth all the buzz Kaboom seems to be attracting. Not really, with a few minor exceptions.

Kimchi rice balls ($5 for 2) with taro chips are an amazing meal deal. The panko-crusted spheres, practically the size of baseballs, are splashed with tangy spice and you can actually make out the kimchi stuffed inside which gives it a fermented sourness and heat that really helps cut through the grease. And the taro slices are as thin as kettle cooked potato chips and nicely crispy. But issues surface when presented with a two piece fried chicken ($10; 5 pcs for $15; 7 pcs for $20) thigh and drum order, fries, slaw and sweet chili sauce. The thigh is almost all tasteless crust and the plastic cutlery is so flimsy you couldn't cut through air without the knife bending. Not to worry, there was little meat to get at anyway. The drumstick is indeed meatier but the problem persists: it’s that spice-free double deep fried batter. Trust me there are no 11 herbs and spices here to savour. If it weren't for an in-house sweet chili sauce, green onions, finished with a sprinkling of sesame seeds it may as well have been boiled chicken. In fact, Chester Fried Chicken is far superior. Hand-cut fries are amazing as is the coleslaw with a rice vinegar dressing. But these aren't two reasons for coming here. I sincerely hope this was just a bad batch.

Hankering for something other than chicken? Then not sure why you'd bother coming to a place named Kaboom Chicken. Still, there are a couple of braised dishes: one beef, the other pork belly. But for goodness sake skip the braised beef taco ($5) until they are convinced to cut down on the salt. It’s like drinking soya sauce right out of the bottle. The slow cooked galbi beef taco is tender though the tangy sauce is way too sweet, and the roti-like taco is just gummy.

The ramen FC burger ($13) is by far the best deal here if for only the fact that it actually has tons of boneless chicken thigh meat with bibimbap toppings sandwiched between ramen “buns”, which are really two pressed ramen noodle cakes that are neither crispy nor spiced as you might expect from the normal soup variety. I get the buzz about it on social media; it seems like a novel idea. But I dare you to eat both top and bottom at once.

Service may be warm and welcoming, but the only real eye-popping blast going on here is the interior Kaboom signage and a collision of design choices that include some very impractical and uncomfortable seating. Neighbourhood folks won't be faithful for long if some of these tweaks are ignored. And that would be sad as these people do seem really, really nice.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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