Hi! It’s Grace. We went out to dinner with Nick & Megan to celebrate their recent engagement (YAY!!), and invited them to post with us since they’d never been to Fong’s! In order to save time/space, I’ll just be popping in here and there on this one 🙂 Enjoy!
Josh: Nick and Megan got engaged (yay!) and wanted to celebrate. They chose Fongs and invited Grace and I.
Megan: Nick and I have been talking about going to Fong’s for a while now. Between different types of pizza and Hy Vee Chinese, it seemed silly not to combine the two. We had tried going there before but we went at an extremely busy time, and at a time when we were both extremely hungry. The wait was too long at the time, and we decided to come back another day to try again.
Nick: Let me start by saying I’m a “meat and potatoes” kind of pizza guy. I like my pizza with red sauce, a few salty toppings, and at least a pound of cheese. I can roll thin crust or deep dish. Even the occasional breakfast pizza hits the spot every now and again. But over the last 24 years of my life, I’ve grown to accept a few certain truths: the woman is always right, the Patriots are a bunch of cheaters, and pizza is a dish best served Italian style. Fong’s is out to change one of those facts. And as far as I can tell, I’m still never going to buy the right kind of peanut butter and Tom Brady is still suspended. All that being said, I decided to give Fong’s a chance to rock my small, sheltered world. I mean, it was the winner of Cityview’s best local pizza in 2011 and 2013, so something had to be good about it. Right? Crab on a pizza sounds tasty…I think? Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not at Pizza Hut anymore.
Grace: We all shared so I’ll let the others explain the food. Just wanted to say that I was the ONLY ONE who got a drink (sigh) and it was nearly perfect. It was the Ninja Turtle, made with Jose Cuervo, lime, ginger, pineapple & simple syrup. It was delicious but soooo sweet. I couldn’t finish it. Food was amazing as usual. Chinese Cheese Sticks are life (some things are worth suffering for).
Josh: When we got to Fongs, there was a wait of about 30 minutes (which isn’t bad at all). We chilled at the Royal Mile until our table was ready and got seated. We decided to share the food we got. Grace has a disease that prohibits her from living her life properly and I assume is slowly killing her (lactose intolerance) so we had to be conscious of that. We all decided to split the Fongs Cheese sticks (which invalidates my previous sentence), Thai sticks, and split a large Crab Rangoon Pizza. (I really hope someone else explained that this restaurant has a unique Chinese/Italian theme. You need that knowledge in your head before reading this or you’ll be like “WTF is a Crab Rangoon pizza?”)
The cheese sticks came out first and holy hell are they good. They take an egg roll casing and stuff it with mozzarella cheese and then fry it. It’s an egg roll with cheese inside. It is so stupidly simple yet so stupidly good. They are by far the best cheese sticks I have ever eaten. Period.
The pizza and Thai sticks came out after. The Thai sticks were not what I was expecting. It looked like a pizza when I thought they would look like…umm…sticks? I don’t know. They tasted pretty good. Very peanut buttery but satisfying. Then out came the pizza. This is probably their most famous pizza; Alton Brown loved this masterpiece. I’ve had it before and will continue to eat it. I bet Grace and the others described the pizza so I won’t even waste your time. Just know that it was damn good.
Megan: For appetizers, we had the Chinese Cheese Sticks and the Thai Sticks. The Chinese Cheese Sticks were basically mozzarella sticks, but instead of your typical breading, they were wrapped in wonton wrappers. This added more of a Chinese-y flavor to them. They came with a marinara sauce that I thought was a little too chunky to be conducive to dipping cheese sticks in. But I made it work. Overall the cheese sticks were good, but I wouldn’t say they were radically different than most other cheese sticks I’ve had.
Nick: I grew up in a time when Domino’s pizza sucked and stuffed-crust pizza was revolutionary. Oh if my 8 year old self could see me now, sitting at a table with mozzarella cheese-stuffed egg rolls (Chinese Cheese Sticks), peanut butter and bacon flatbread (Thai Sticks), and a pizza decorated with crab, crispy wontons, and a sweet chili sauce. I’ll start with those cheese sticks. First off, these were right down my alley. Fried and cheesy. Big home run. If you’re looking for a good gateway drug into the Asian pizza scene, this is a great place to start. The crispy wonton skin paired with the ooey gooey-ness of the cheese was perfect. I could’ve made a meal out of just that. They were simple, but tasty. I couldn’t recommend these enough.
Next up, Thai sticks. This was a tougher sell when just looking at the menu. Peanut butter and bacon on a mini wheat pizza crust. What is this madness? But with there being four of us hungry souls at a table, we figured one appetizer wouldn’t suffice. We YOLO’d and threw them on the ticket. Since they were a mini-pizza themselves, the Thai sticks didn’t arrive until the rest of the pizza did. If we hadn’t ordered cheese sticks as well, that’d be a little upsetting. It’s hard to be an appetizer when you show up with the rest of the food. In Fong’s defense, we were given the option to hold the pizza while we chowed down on the Thai sticks. We opted for both at the same time. The sticks hit a nice balance between salty and sweet, but I can’t say they were fantastic. The peanut butter ended up overwhelming the rest of the flavors after the first few bites. Above average compared to many pizza places’ appetizers, but probably only good for a one time, cross-this-off-my-bucket-list, purchase. If you’re on the fence, put some PB on a slice of bacon at home and just order those Chinese cheese sticks instead.
Now the main dish. The big pie. The Des Moinesian famous Fong’s Crab Rangoon Pizza. Seriously, before even stepping foot into Fong’s, I was told to order this pizza. Anyone who’s ever gone has told me that’s the way to go to get the true Fong’s experience. You don’t go to McDonalds for their salads and you don’t go to B-Bops for their sloppy joes. And from the moment it came out in all its crabby glory, I knew we had something special on our hands. Instead of some melted cream cheese glop on a crust that I expected, out came this masterpiece of drizzled sweet chili sauce over crab, wontons, and an asiago/mozzarella cheese blend. This pizza was…what do the young kids call it these days…on fleek. It had a taste unlike anything I’ve had before. Like the Thai sticks, it married this salty and sweet mixture perfectly. Unlike the Thai sticks’ peanut butter, there wasn’t a dominant flavor that took over. Every ounce of topping worked in unison with one another to create a perfect relationship with my taste buds. The crust was thin and crispy, yet strong enough to hold a decent amount of toppings. And a large pizza was a good amount of food for a group of four people. All in all, despite the obvious lack of Italian influence, this pizza was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.
Atmosphere, Service, Price
Josh: It is extremely small and crampy in their downtown location. The pictures are unique with random Chinese ads and Chinese pictures. That does not detract as it’s an overall fun place to go to have some good food. The prices are good and our waiter was wonderful. It was a fun experience and I will definitely be going back again.
Megan: The atmosphere of Fong’s is interesting. When you first walk in, you first notice that it’s two things: busy and small (however, we realized upon being seated that there was a little bit more room in the back). There doesn’t seem to be a real rhyme or reason to what order people are asked about party size in, and I think we got skipped initially. The hostess came back over shortly though, and all was well. They tell you how long the wait will be and so we went across the street for a bit and came back when we received the text that our table was ready. We were led back into the back dining room and the walls were mostly covered in what one can only call “Asian Art”. Anything and everything Asian. Pictures of fans, architecture, Chinese symbols, and even a risqué Asian woman in a rowboat with her shirt pulled down exposing nipple, right over our table. The tables were close together but not to the point of being uncomfortable. It wasn’t very loud, which was nice. I imagine that is due to its small size. There wasn’t a lot of traffic going by us and the whole experience overall was enjoyable.
Our waiter was very nice, got our orders right, was quick and attentive, and split our tickets up the way we asked. What more can you ask of a waiter? Luckily, it was Nick’s turn to pay that night so I got my entire meal with two appetizers for the price of a big old goose egg. However, IF it had been my turn to pay, I think the prices were reasonable for the amount of food you get. The appetizers were both around $6.00 each and the large pizza (easily split between four people) was $20.00ish. That’s only $5.00 per person as far as the pizza goes, and I don’t know many sit-down restaurants where you can eat for $5.00 per person. I would definitely go back again. We had a great time including the company involved, the atmosphere and experience of the restaurant, and definitely due to the food as well. Maybe next time we will try the one in Ankeny just to compare and try something new.
Have you ever been to an amusement park, standing in line to get to your favorite ride (the log ride, for the record), and been so excited that the 10 minute wait seems like a two hour wait. That’s probably the fairest comparison I can give Fong’s. It’s a small establishment, nestled in a building across from Java Joe’s on 4th Street downtown. With it being so small and so tasty, there is bound to be a little of a wait. We were told twenty minutes. The nice thing about Fong’s is that they’ll take your number, check you in, and let you wander around the happenings of downtown until your table becomes available. This is really nice for those late night adventures where a forty to fifty minute wait might seem unbearable. Check in, roll over to Royal Mile or Pints, have a few drinks, and then they’ll text you when you’re up. If the dine-in scene isn’t your jam, they take To-Go orders as well. Once seated, you’ll be taken to one of two small rooms for your table. The place is pretty compact, but you don’t feel cramped. The decorations were very strongly influenced by traditional Chinese art and the service was good. The waiter was around to refill our drinks and brought our food out promptly when we were ready. The price was a little on the higher end (20.99 for a large pizza), but the food was well worth it. Also, Fong’s is a place you need to bring people to. Sit around a table, laugh, drink, and eat pizza. It’s a social place. The restaurant was filled with chatter and happy faces. It’s hard to leave without a smile.
Despite my simple food upbringing, Fong’s Pizza blew me out of the water. The food was great and the restaurant was fun. There was a small wait and the Thai sticks were just okay, but don’t let that lead you to believe this wasn’t a great experience. Get some friends or family together, grab some tasty pizza (don’t forget those cheese sticks), and enjoy each other’s company at this wholly unique, and wonderful place. I give Fong’s 4.5 stars out of 5.