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If you've heard much about Chicken King in the last year, it's likely because restaurant owner Quenton King has been in jail for almost a year, charged with two counts of capital murder in the death of his pregnant girlfriend. But, meanwhile, business at his two area take-out-only restaurants chugs along at a frenetic pace.
One thing you should know about procuring food from Chicken King, at least from the MacArthur Drive location in Levy, is you definitely want to call in your order vs. ordering when you arrive, and you definitely want to double the wait time the person on the phone tells you. We've almost missed kickoff for at least two Razorback football games by not giving Chicken King enough time to prepare our wings — and the hundreds of others that flew out of the restaurant while we waited on our dozen or two.
We called in a huge order at 11:10 a.m. Friday and were told it would be ready in 15 minutes. We fell for it again, arriving at 11:30. We exited with our grub at 11:45.
The Chicken King menu isn't large or diverse, but best we can tell the wings outsell the rest of the items combined. And based on our many Chicken King runs in the past, that's understandable — except for our latest trip. We got a 10-piece order of three flavors: hot, honey mustard and country-fried. (Ten is the smallest quantity available if you just want wings, and they're $8.99.) All were smaller and tougher than we'd remembered. The hots weren't very hot (we'll go extra hot next time), the honey mustard tasted more barbecue saucy than honey mustardy, and the breading on the country fried was mega-bland, seemingly devoid of any herbs or spices, including salt or pepper.
The disappointing wings were quickly forgotten when we dove into the whole catfish fillets, which range in price from $3.49 to $3.99 apiece, depending on how many you get. They are thick, juicy, crispy and just about perfect in every way, particularly when dosed with some hot sauce.
The pork chop dinner ($14.99 with two sides) featured two large, thin, breaded and fried chops, but the amount of time it takes hot grease to brown the batter renders the pork dry and tough. We were happy the chops' batter was flecked with salt and pepper.
The butterfly shrimp ($7.99 for six, $14.99 for 12) are straight from the freezer but decent — the flat, tail-on kind you've seen, but at least there is a decently thick layer of shrimp discernible and not just batter. The Kraft cocktail sauce is about as you'd expect. As are the straight-from-the-freezer fries, fried okra and onion rings (included with some dishes and $2.49, $2.49 and $2.95 a la carte). None of us could bear trying one of the generic white rolls.
Clearly, Chicken King didn't thrill us on this day, but the volume of business that churns through the place about guarantees our experience or opinions aren't shared by most. During our 15-minute wait we saw at least 20 to-go containers fly out the door; another 15 packs of food were still waiting on their devourers to arrive; and the overworked single clerk probably took 10 call-in orders as she also handled in-person customers.
2704 MacArthur Drive
North Little Rock
5213 W. 65th St.
Chicken King has three specials worth noting. From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays you can get 10 wings plus fries and a fountain drink for the same $8.99 the wings alone would cost you. Or you can opt for two whole catfish fillets with fries and a drink for $8.99, just $1 more than the fish alone. Also, all day every day you can get six wings with fries and a drink for $7.99 or one pork chop with fries and a drink for $8.99.
10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Credit cards accepted, no alcohol.