King Philly Cheesesteaks: Strip Mall Food Royalty

by Derrick LaFonsecca

I was excited as Hell to try out the new King Philly Cheesesteaks joint because, well – CHEESE & STEAK! King Philly, located in the recently developed Kenyon Place strip mall, is a close neighbor to another food newcomer, Beach Bakery, right on Rainier Ave. at Kenyon Street.

This is so sweet because I cruise Rainier a lot, and sometimes I get the pangs! You know, those deep dirty hunger pangs that suddenly jump out at you along the largely foodless stretch between Hillman City and Rainier Beach. I was feeling those pangs when I screeched into the Kenyon Place parking lot to bite into some King Philly for the first time.

The place is more open and airy than I expected from the outside, with tall ceilings and clean new fixtures. Along the north wall are a series of clocks, displaying the time in various parts of the world, such as Seattle and, for those who have trouble with the 3-hour time difference between West Coast and Eastern Standard time, Philadelphia, proud home of the Philly cheesesteak sandwich and our founding father with the highest forehead, Benjamin Franklin.

Also displayed were times for a few other world capitals, none of which mattered to me because my personal time clock was reading “Feeding time-thirty,” and I was ready to throw back some calories.

A friendly lady greeted me right away, which I always appreciate, and asked me what I’d like. I started rattling off items listed on the board just to the right of the register: Original Philly Steak Sandwich, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Lemon pepper wings, fried pickles, French fries, Ranch sauce, Sriracha ranch sauce & honey mustard sauce…Oh Lord, here we go…

The Original Philly steak sandwich was good enough and featured an authentic “Amoroso” hoagie bun and tender, nicely chopped steak. I understand that the white cheese sauce used in Philly steak sandwiches is generally pretty flavorless, but I still thought that this Philly sandwich could have used either a bit more cheese or that the cheese have a bit more flavor. It seemed to almost dissolve into the bun like mayonnaise. I also felt that the sandwich could have been a bit more stacked with meat and grilled peppers, though it was tasty overall.

The Buffalo Chicken sandwich, on the other hand, was right up my alley – it was bursting with all the flavor and spice one associates with Buffalo hot wings, shouting at my taste buds – here I am, Mr. LaFonsecca! I was already starting to get full, but got into Man vs. Food mode because I couldn’t put down that delicious Buffalo Chicken sandwich, which also comes on an Amoroso hoagie. Onto the lemon pepper hot wings…crispy & crunchy just the way I like.

The lemon pepper coating packed a lot of flavor and I would definitely recommend this dish; my one criticism, though, was that the lemon pepper coating was not evenly distributed on all the wings so that some of them were really spicy while others were sort of bland.

Fries were solid – nice and crisp – standard in a good way. The fried pickles were tasty and perfect for dipping into the various sauces. The sauces were, again, good but didn’t stand out in any particular way and I felt that the Sriracha sauce could have used more zing.

King Philly is most definitely a welcome addition to the neighborhood and a much-needed hunger pang treatment center along Rainier Ave. Definitely give the Buffalo Chicken sandwich a roll & back it up with some of those fried pickles.

King Philly Cheesesteaks is located at 7820 Rainier Avenue South