There's a new "Home of Wor Wonton" on Edmonton Trail
808 Edmonton Tr. N.E., 403-475-7781, kingsrestaurant.net.
RITA SIRIGNANO, SWERVE (Photos Christina Ryan)
Some friends were beyond excited when the sign in the window of what was Prime Tandoori House & Pizza on Edmonton Trail announced it would soon be the home of a new King’s. I had never been to the original King’s on Barlow—a fact met with incredulity by old-time Calgarians for whom it’s something of an institution—and was curious to see what the fuss was about. It took a few months, but King’s On The Hill opened a few weeks ago.
If, like me, you don’t know the back story, the original King’s Restaurant was opened in 1979 by Jose Chuy, who, though born in Hong Kong, arrived in Calgary via Guatemala. Something of a classic Canadian greasy spoon, it serves western and Chinese food and caters to workers at the surrounding industrial parks, opening bright and early but closing at 4 p.m. King’s tag line is “home of the wor won ton,” and the soup is a big reason people go out of their way to eat there. (My partner remembers on more than one occasion driving a tractor from west of Cochrane for lunch.) Fast-forward 35 years, and Chuy’s daughters Angela Lee and Christina Chuy have opened this second location.
There’s nothing greasy-spoon about the new King’s, which features lots of tile and wood, menus written on blackboards, and industrial-chic lighting. Grey banquettes line one wall and there are two bar-height, communal tables; in total, King’s seats 45. Unlike a diner, there’s no traditional wait staff; you place your order and pay upfront. Water is self-serve and, when finished eating, diners bus their tables. It’s a good formula, something between fast food and a Chinese restaurant, with prices to match.
My son and I visited on a rainy, cold evening, and a bowl of the classic wor won ton was what I wanted. King’s signature dish comes in three sizes: the Queen, $10, comes with three won tons; the King, $12.50, has six; and the Super, $15, a whopping eight. I ordered the Queen and my son, the BBQ pork wonton vegetable noodle, $11.50. We also started with a kale-gomae salad, $5, and a sweet ginger poutine, $6.50.
You can’t help but feel you’re eating a healthy meal when it starts with kale salad. Poutine is another matter, though it’s not a huge portion and doesn’t drip with cheese. I like my fries a bit browner than what we got, but it was tasty and we finished it nonetheless. The soup came almost simultaneously—wait times aren’t long here—and after a few spoonfuls my son, doing his best Top Chef judge imitation, declared, “the noodle consistency is good—that’s very important.” So was the consistency of the vegetables—carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and baby corn—which aren’t cooked hours earlier but are fresh and al dente. Most important, the broth, which is chicken-based and simmered overnight (as we learned from one of the Chuy sisters, who was making the rounds of the tables), is not too salty. It’s deliciously delicate, but if you like things salty or spicier you can add the soy and chili sauces that sit on the tables.
King’s on the Hill is open only until 8 p.m., which is too bad, as it would be perfect to hit on your way home from a night on the town (the soup would be a good hangover preventative). King’s deserves its following; it’s hard to find such simple, clean, yet tasty food at this price. For a quick meal or takeout, you can’t beat it.
This means wor
Depending on whom you ask, the “wor” in “wor won ton” means:
d. big pot
“All of the above” also works