I like to take pride in the fact that I have not been to a single Chinese buffet for a mass gorging in well over a year but, if I’m being honest here, there are plenty of times when I seriously do crave the somewhat-murderous deep-fried Asian food items that populate this city’s all-you-can-eat heated metal-trays, laid out before me in no discernible fashion.
Luckily, when I do get the urge to merge with such foodstuffs, thank Buddha there’s Egg Roll King, 3616 N.W. 23rd; with a small menu that is as quaint as their dining room, there’s a reason that the King, with its pagoda-like façade, has maintained its prime-time fast-food consistency for well over 20 or so years. Unfortunately though, that was probably the last time I actually stopped by there.
In dire need of an edible write-up, last week I stopped by the famed eatery to pay the King his proper respects; the inside was almost exactly how I remembered it being back in high school—I’m pretty sure those are the same potted plants along the wooden divide. Looking at the light-bright menu over the counter, the prices sure haven't changed that much; maybe a nickel or two here and there, affordable since the 1990s.
Offering standard items like chicken chow mein, teriyaki chicken and sesame seed chicken, as my heart raced a bit—I blame the greasy fumes—I doubled-down and ordered the Special Combo Plate ($4.99) and, per their name, how could I turn down a couple of the King’s Egg Rolls ($0.99 each)? Within minutes, as Divorce Court or some other stilted courtroom show played on the television near me, my name was called, a captured bounty sat before me.
The King’s Egg Rolls were pretty much everything I hoped they’d be and everything I’m glad they still are. Two deep-fried wraps filled with a bit of cabbage, a bit of carrots and a bit of chicken, with a comical amount of red sauce to go with them, it’s a tangential taste that I definitely appreciate. Now whether these are homemade or bought from a distributor, I don’t care; because from their first bite to the last swallow they fulfilled the requirement that I have for cheap egg rolls.
The Special Combo Plate is comprised of the three most coveted of buffet items—sweet and sour pork, sweet and sour chicken, and garlic fritter chicken—all proportionately doled out for the non-glutton, along with the quintessential fried rice and a goopy mess of chicken chow mein. As good as the sweet and sour pork and chicken were, respectively, it was the garlic fritter chicken was the true bastion of royal blood, a truly special treat that, maybe next time, I just might get by itself.
Heavy is the head that wears the imaginary crown, especially as grease-stained fingers continually try to keep it from falling. But, all for about five bucks and some change, Egg Roll King has been making--and will continue to make--even the penniless of paupers feel, at the very least, like a fried-rice riddled viscount. Cómpralo ya!