Calgary Eye Opener (CBC)
Wonton King
January 16, 2004

John Gilchrist

A few weeks ago I got an email from a couple of former Calgarians who now live in Victoria. They had been back in town and had had a good meal at the Wonton King at 7800 – 30th Street SE.

Now a couple of things stuck me about the email. First, I hadn’t heard of the Wonton King. And second, what the heck were these people doing dining in the Foothills Industrial Park when there are more obvious restaurant areas of town. So of course I had to get out there.

The eateries of the Foothills Industrial Park tend to echo the sentiments of the area – industrial places with fluorescent lighting, heavy duty furniture, fast service, and simple, hearty food at pretty good prices. Nothing wrong with that. Usually they serve breakfast and lunch – there’s not a whole lot of dinner trade in the area.

And the Wonton King fits right in. It’s a cafeteria style place where you line up to place your order from an overhead menu and then plunk down at one of the tables or at a stainless steel counter. There’s no table service, they call out your number when your food is ready, which takes about 3 minutes on average, and if it’s crowded, which it usually is, sharing tables is expected. The clientele is predominantly working guys from the neighbourhood looking for a big, fast, meal for cheap. Dress code is overalls and working boots, ball caps optional.

The other thing that caught my eye about the Wonton King was the name. It’s similar to King’s Restaurant, a Calgary institution for 23 years as a popular place for wonton soup. And sure enough it is the same family that runs the Wonton King and opened it just a few months ago. And they really do a good wonton soup. They make their own stock from a mix of beef, chicken, and pork bones – it’s a great soup, not greasy, very fresh. – they tell me they go through about 4000 wontons a day between the two locations – plus sliced pork and greens and noodles. Their wor wonton, packed with even more ingredients and is a full meal in itself. They also do a seafood wor wonton for an additional dollar.

Beyond the soups the Wonton King has a short list of Cantonese and Southeast Asian favourites – the menu is really a hybrid of cultures. There’s lemongrass chicken and dry ribs and, of course, ginger beef and there’s even a list of steak sandwiches and clubhouses. And they do a big breakfast special. I tried the barbecued pork with King’s rice and was very impressed, not only with the fresh, housemade quality, but with the price. It beat most similar dishes in Chinatown. There was almost half a pound of pork on the plate. And it was good.

Now again, there’s no table service and maybe not even a table but the food is all made in-house, it’s good quality, the staff are pleasant and quick, and the price is right. - the Wonton King knows what they’re doing.

They are located at 7800 – 30th Street SE and are open weekdays from 7am to 4pm and Saturdays from 8am to 2pm. Definitely worth a visit but don’t dress up.

I’ll rate the Wonton King at 8 out of 10.