To round up the latest in restaurant posts, one of my favourite places – The King & I Thai Cuisine. There are those that say it’s overpriced, it’s not authentic, there’s much better Thai food in Calgary… but to those people I say, good for you, you’re all entitled to your own opinion. Personally, I love the food at King & I, even if it is on the pricier end. The price-point means that every visit is that much better and more appreciated, since I don’t go very often. Plus, it’s not even two blocks from where I live so mega BONUS POINTS!
What I really love about King & I is the service. From the time you walk in, to when you walk out, you’re guaranteed to get excellent service. The first time I went to King & I was probably around 2007-2008, and the same two regular servers are still there. This says a lot to me, namely, that these two lovely women know the menu inside and out (so you can ask them anything about the menu items and know that what they’re saying isn’t on-the-fly BS). The owner/manager is almost always there when I visit, too, and he makes his rounds to all the tables making sure that all diners satisfied with their meals. And he also looks a bit like Geoffrey Rush.
The decor is modern and simplistic, yet warm. It actually feels quite tranquil inside, which is a far cry from the bustling traffic outside.
We were seated at a table inside one of the dining areas that can be closed off for private functions.
I never, ever go without ordering the Thai Style Calamari. I’ve already written about their epic calamari. It really is THAT epic and I still maintain that it’s the best calamari I’ve ever had. It’s of the crispy-fried variety, but it’s not the standard rings of calamari – it’s actually the meatier part that they cut into rectangular shapes, lightly battered and perfectly cooked. Not only is it crispy, it’s sooo tender. SOOO TENDER. MELT IN THE MOUTHNESS. The chili/ginger sauce is the perfect accompaniment. If I were ever to go eat at King & I by myself, I would probably just get 3 orders of the calamari for my meal. NO JOKE.
We also got the Pla Goong salad (fresh shrimps & cucumber tossed with lemongrass, mint leaves, chilli peppers & lime dressing) to get our veggie intake and for something on the lighter side. I’m normally not a fan of cucumber (I just find it so boring), but I loved it in this salad. It had a really nice tangy bite from the lime dressing and the veggies were incredibly fresh and crisp. It balanced nicely with the heavier, fried calamari so I’m glad that Mark decided on this salad instead of our other usual appie (beef skewers).
For the main part of the meal, we decided on the Red Curry Chicken and each of us got a side of coconut rice. The curry had just the right amount of heat for my tastes and it was beautifully done. The chicken was super tender and the curry itself had a nice balance of sweet and savoury, which I think is the perfect Thai curry. Eaten with their epic coconut rice, you can’t go wrong. I absolutely LOVE coconut rice. I tried to make it at home one day but it was an epic disaster, so I just decided that I’m only meant to have coconut rice when I go to King & I.
To round out the meal, we also got the Pad Thai. It was a tad disappointing, actually. Normally, it’s fantastic, but that night, the chef was a bit heavy-handed with the salt. We actually got Mark’s dad addicted to their Pad Thai, so every time he goes there, that’s basically all he gets. He told us about a night he went after work on his own when the pad thai was on the salty side. When the owner asked him how everything was, he told the owner that it was a bit too salty. The owner then promptly apologised and got him a new plate of pad thai. Random story, but it relates to my point on the excellent service. We were well into our meal, so we didn’t say anything about the saltiness (it wasn’t intolerable, it might be that I prefer my food on the less salted side in general).
Our bellies were full and happy by the end of the meal. It was the perfect amount of food. We generally have a habit of over-ordering, so it was nice to get it just right that night. Like I mentioned previously, it is definitely on the pricier end, but I think it’s worth it for the quality of food and service. Mark and I always have fond memories of going to King & I – we mostly go to celebrate milestones in our lives, like promotions or new jobs, so it’s a special place for us.
I now have a serious craving for calamari and coconut rice…
The King & I Thai Cuisine
822 11th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0E5
Phone: (403) 264-7241