King Ying Low. A fair number of you probably never heard of it. And those who have probably never ate there. It was once Des Moines' oldest Chinese restaurant, starting as a chop suey joint in 1907. In 2008, in the wake of a kitchen fire, the restaurant shuttered its doors for good.
In 2009 Fong's Pizza opened up in King Ying Low's location, not only keeping the decor but incorporating the Chinese theme into many of its appetizers and pizzas, while serving up a dizzying array of tiki bar cocktails. Fong's late-night slices of pizza – once the exclusive domain of Big Tomato on Ingersoll – became a favorite of Court Ave. patrons, along with Fong's Farmers' Market breakfast pizza [see blog post].
I settled down there recently for a pizza and finagle a half-order each of the Chinese Cheesesticks and Pizza Rolls for the price of a full order.
Wrap mozzarella sticks in egg roll wrappers and deep fry. These Chinese Cheesesticks are genius enough, but then there's the Pizza Rolls: egg roll wrappers hand filled with pepperoni, Graziano's sausage and mozzarella. Jeno Paulucci may have been the creator of this classic snack, but Fong's reboot is to die for. A cheesy, savory, crispy snack for the kid in us.
Each appetizer comes with a side of chunky marinara, which complements the Chinese Cheesesticks but is an unnecessary addition to the flavorful Pizza Rolls.
The Spicy G pizza starts with the house spicy red sauce, topped with pepperoni, Graziano's sausage, jalapeños, and mozzarella. A good balance of flavors. Not too spicy for my capsaicin-tolerant palate, but still offers a zesty, warming heat in the back of the mouth. The flavors remind me of a very cheesy Italian grinder with banana peppers, but minus the peppers' vinegary bite. The thin crust is soft enough to fold up, but the rind exhibits a near cracker-like crispness.