“Chick-N-Bap” He excitedly told me.
“He” being Sung Kim, the founder of Binghamton’s first student-run dining service partnered with Binghamton’s dining service, Sodexo.
As a SUNY, many students identify with the late-night “delicacy” that is chicken and rice; a staple for students familiar with Manhattan’s famous 53rd and 6th food cart. Those that are aware of this popular corner, with lines forming even within the a.m. of Manhattan’s craving insomniacs, know that chicken and rice is much more than just chicken served with rice. Confusing?
“It’s all about the experience.” Sung explains, “I pushed for the same circular, aluminum containers as the original Halal Guys (53rd and 6th), as well as the pita on the side.”
As any restaurant-goer knows, experience and atmosphere in itself yields it’s own flavoring to any dish. For a portable dish such as Chick-N-Bap, Sung wanted to be sure that it still held the authenticity from it’s Manhattan origin.
“My main concern is that people will compare it to the original and expect it to be the same. Of course it’s not going to taste the same. The chicken in my recipe is marinated differently, with more color.”
And when asked about the infamous (for being insanely delicious) white sauce?
“It was tricky, but I finally got it down. In my opinion, my sauce tastes better.” He said with a proud grin.
It makes sense that this creation calls for pride, especially after the arduous process Sung went through to make this dream a reality. He used his culinary background as line chef for a local restaurant near campus, as well as his educational advantage of being in Binghamton’s School of Management program, to be able to pitch his ideas forward and create what was once an idea.
How did this idea come about? Sung recollects on one of those typical college nights, relaxing with his friends and craving a taste from back home. He reasons that if so many SUNY students crave “Manhattan’s drunk food” (as he called it), why not provide some sort of similar experience?
This interview took place just hours before the grand opening of Chick-N-Bap, served within the Nite Owl hours of Hinman College. In front of me sat a package of nerves and excitement, neatly wrapped up with a dress shirt and tie.
“Seeing what I wrote on B-line made me think ‘Wow..this is actually happening..’ It feels good to see everything you worked for finally taking form.” Sung exclaims, with his mouth unable to resist a huge smile, and his eyes drifting upward at a glimpse of the future Sung of 9 pm, presenting his creation to campus alongside co-founders Christian Ko and Daekwon Kim.
To add on to the experience of Manhattan’s famous night-time meal, Chick-N-Bap even had the genuity of waiting in line. The first weekend had sold well over the expected amount, forcing them to close only a couple of hours within opening.
The creation of Chick-N-Bap proves that success is as tangible, and edible, as you can imagine it to be.