It was game day for the Hogs. Naturally, I was craving chicken wings…arguably the single greatest morsel to shove into one’s maw while watching two men crush each other’s skulls while carrying around a leather ball. While developing my personal game plan for acquisition of some satisfactory wings, I was reminded of a small, take-out only joint in North Little Rock. This is a place I had passed by a number of times without ever having actually pulled over to see what was offered inside. But with a name like “Chicken King,” it was no secret that these guys were proud of their poultry.
The menu at Chicken King is simple, basic, and inexpensive. Customers are given the choice between hot wings, fried chicken, fried catfish, and fried shrimp. Not the kind of place you want to be spotted at by your cardiologist. I made the mistake of not calling in my order ahead of time. As everything is made to order, this generally means a wait time of around 20-30 minutes to receive your food. As I sat and waited, I was surprised how incredibly busy this place was. The entire time, there was always a steady stream of customers, most of them dropping in to pick up their food to-go, some of them toting off mammoth-sized tin trays containing 100-piece hot wing orders (of whom I was particularly jealous).
When my order was finally up I grabbed my bags of food and headed home. I began with a nine-piece hot wing meal. Wings are offered in a variety of sauces including lemon pepper, hot, honey mustard barbecue, and garlic. I chose the honey mustard BBQ after being told they were a customer favorite, and I have no regrets in my selection. The wings were everything I was hoping for. The white meat was succulent, juicy, and tender…so tender you could literally suck the meat off the bone. The outer skin of the meat was slightly crisp, providing a subtle resistance before one penetrates to the soft poultry flesh underneath. The sweet and tangy sauce was just thick enough to cling to the plump wings without sloshing off, but thin enough to seep into every crevice. The order included a side of ranch dressing for dipping…a rather pedestrian accompaniment for such fine wings. I would have much preferred a housemade thick and chunky bleu cheese, but I was content with what I was given.
I also sampled a catfish platter that included two large filets of breaded and fried catfish, tartar sauce, and a few slices of white bread with pickles and onions. A handful of French fries were thrown in to top off the meal. The catfish was light and flaky, sparkling white and steaming hot. Unfortunately the breading was rather bland and the whole dish underseasoned and entirely forgettable. The tartar sauce was also rather unappetizing, primarily just a glob of mayonnaise without the necessary sweet and sour kick of dill relish and lemon juice. The fries were a travesty. They were clearly bagged and frozen potatoes, flash fried with every order. They came out firm and stale with just a hint of freezer burn. I’ll definitely pass on the potatoes when I return.
It’s clear to me that at Chicken King, the bird is the word. In the future, I’ll be sure to employ these folks for all my sticky-fingered hot wing needs, but for the time being, this may be all I order. But I’ll rest comfortably knowing that a trip to Chicken King will end in exemplary wings, and for me, that is more than enough to warrant a return visit.
2704 Mac Arthur Dr.
North Little Rock