FFWD

Wor Wonton Wonderland
Kings Restaurant’s belly-busting soups fit for royalty
November 22, 2007
Darell Hartlen

The next time you're thinking about spending your lunch break with a meal made by a king, skip the pre-formed fast food burger and head on over to Kings Restaurant.

Self-billed as "home of the wor wonton in Calgary," Kings has been catering to breakfast and lunchtime crowds in its industrial location just off Barlow Trail for more than 25 years.

The restaurant itself is nothing fancy, sporting a simple yet hospitable environment. As far as I'm concerned, that's just fine. Kings is not the type of eatery that's overly concerned about bells and whistles. It’s focused on serving good food in a timely fashion. Given the option of choosing between a standard fast food chain burger and the fare at Kings, I'm more than willing to forgive its interior designer.

There's a simple passage written on each menu that summed up our lunch experience quite succinctly: “Make your taste buds smile.”

We headed over for an early lunch at Kings on a Saturday. Upon arriving, there was already a short lineup, and we did have a few minutes wait to get our table for four. That trend continued over the course of our visit as patrons arrived continuously and lined up for tables of their own, a sure sign that it's worth the trip.

That said, Kings works like a well-oiled machine. Although busy, staff manage to get you in and out at a good pace without feeling rushed. They’re friendly and willing to offer refills on coffee or water as needed.

We started our lunch by sampling the grilled dumplings (eight for $7.89) and the crispy wontons (add-ons to the wor wontons, eight for $4.38). Both were excellent and served with dipping sauces. The dumplings were not doughy or greasy and the crispy wontons provided a nice crunch, contrasting well against the soft, plump regular wontons.

Two of us, myself included, tried the No. 5 classic original wor wonton soup ($7.99); one guest had the No. 26 barbecue pork chow mein with six crispy wontons ($9.69); and the final pick for our group was No. 15 Shanghai noodles with soup and pop ($8.99).

I was intrigued by the last selection. Kings has taken the wor wonton classic, disassembled it and served the bulk of it on a plate, with broth on the side. It's a simple twist on an already successful menu item that appeals to those who cherish the wontons and noodles above all else.

The classic wor wonton is served in a giant bowl loaded up with six golf ball-sized wontons, shanghai noodles, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, pork and beef strips, all in a tasty broth. The wontons are good enough to be a meal on their own, but the balance of ingredients in the classic wor wonton is incredibly satisfying. Make sure to top it off with Kings's own chili garlic oil, available at every table to add a spicy kick. This homemade concoction has proven to be so popular that it's available for take-home purchase, as are several other menu items.

As for the pork chow mein, it looked great and the portion was generous. My guest commented that it was excellent comfort food, good for those days when you are recovering from a night out, or you just need something warm and familiar to fill your belly.

For those who might not be interested in the Canadian Chinese menu, Kings also offers more traditional breakfast standards like meat, eggs or omelets, hamburgers and the like for lunchtime choices.