Calgary Herald

The Kings of Won Ton
Sunday, August 27, 2006
John Gilchrist/Calgary Herald

The Kingdom has grown. The Kingdom of won ton, that is.

King's Restaurant has ruled over a panorama of the Rockies at 104 Meridian Road N.E. (272-2332) for almost three decades now.

For many Calgarians, King's is THE place to go when they need their won ton fix. The room is quietly downscale, the food is all prepared on-site, service is quick and the prices are reasonable. And it's good won ton.

But the king and queen of won ton, King's founders Alfredo and Nellie Chuy, have abdicated. In their place, the two crown princesses, daughters Angela Chuy and Christina Lee, have divided and expanded the empire.

Lee now oversees King's and the main kitchen for the corporate won ton kingdom while Chuy­ - along with her uncle John Chu - handle an off-shoot operation called Wonton King.

There are now three fast-food Wonton Kings in the monarchy.

There's one in Crossroads market that operates Saturdays and Sundays, there's another in Foothills Industrial Park at 7800 - 38 th Street SE (236-4224) and a third at 7070 - 11 th Street SE (252-6612).

The various Kings are know for their big bowls of wor won ton, meaning the ultimate bowl of wor won ton. Each bowl is filled with a rich chicken broth, egg noodles, barbecued pork, roast pork, vegetables, and fresh-rolled, pork-filled won ton.

The flavour remains remarkably the same between outlets because the food is prepared in the main commissary kitchen on Meridian Road.

Chicken bones are roasted for the chicken broth, pork is ground and rolled into fresh won ton dough and more pork is barbecued or roasted to top the dishes. This is a major operation - more than 4000 won tons are made every day. The result is a hearty, flavourful lunch soup for just over $7.

The Kings also serve a seafood version of the soup with shrimp and imitation crab for a $1.30 premium, plus noodle soups and drier dishes such as sweet and sour pork, ginger beef and lemongrass chicken. And they do a western bacon and eggs style breakfast, too. Everything is under $8.

While King's is a sit-down restaurant , the Wonton Kings are fast . You line up at the counter cafeteria style, choose your meal from a whiteboard hanging on the wall and wait a few seconds while it's scooped onto a plate.

You pay, you eat, and you leave. That's if you're ordering the drier dishes. Soups take about three minutes to assemble and are delivered by staff who call out the order numbers.

The spaces are crowded, noisy and efficient for eating, but are not overly comfortable. Stainless steel counters and a bank of communal tables serve as propping stations for quick consumption and big bins wait for your utensils to be self-bussed. But, for a tasty $7 lunch, you won't see many folks complaining about the simple approach. The kingdom of won ton is one where the citizenry is quite happy.