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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Around the Corner: Wings and Rice, 13 years of flavor

Hannah Togia
Patio seating of Wings & Rice.

Named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2015, Tucson is nationally recognized as the place to go for the country’s most diverse cuisine. With so many food options in one city, it’s difficult to think that anybody could try everything at one restaurant — but Wings & Rice comes pretty close.

At first glance, one may be surprised by the diversity of options on the Wings & Rice menu. From Philly cheesesteak sandwiches to hibachi fried rice, this restaurant offers “a bit of everything,” as stated on the restaurant’s website.

Opened just around the corner in 2006 at the crossroads of Pima Street and Craycroft Road, restaurant owners Ken Kang and his wife, Lona Kang, wanted their restaurant to stand out.

“There are many Japanese restaurants in Tucson,” Ken Kang said. “I wanted to create something different.”

Inside view of the popular chicken wing restaurant.
Inside view of the popular chicken wing restaurant.

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Prior to opening Wings & Rice, Kang gained his 25 years of cooking experience from working at local Japanese restaurants.

Described on the restaurant’s website as “an eclectic blend of cuisine from Buffalo to the Pacific Rim,” Kang’s dishes are influenced by his years of experience in cooking teppanyaki cuisine.

According to Kang, most of the restaurant’s dishes are inspired by Japanese cuisine, with some influence derived from Chinese and Korean food. However, some other wild cards influence the menu — like Kang’s take on the Philly cheesesteak.

Wings & Rice’s menu offers soup, katsu chicken and starters like onion rings and breaded zucchini. Taking into account the impressive array of options, Kang considers the most popular item to be the restaurant’s namesake: the Wings & Rice.

The restaurant’s menu boasts 23 different flavors of wings, featuring classics like buffalo and barbecue, as well as more novel options like Dragon’s Breath. For the less adventurous, Wings & Rice also offers a “wimpy” flavor of plain wings.

Valencia Alston, a frequent Wings & Rice customer, said she has enjoyed every flavor she has tasted. She listed spicy garlic, lemon pepper and orange as her favorite flavor choices.

“All the flavors taste good,” Alston said.

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Kang said everything down to the sauce is made from scratch. He has found success in homemade recipes and has been using the same ones since the restaurant’s opening.

“The quality of the sauce is really good because the sauce sticks to the meat,” Alston said. “It’s a thick, nice consistency, so it stays on. A lot of times, you get the chicken wing and you got to dip it in the sauce.”

While some restaurants offer their wings with a side of fries or celery sticks, Wings & Rice differs. To set their business apart and stay true to the restaurant’s name, Wings & Rice pairs their wings with a side of fried rice, served with a layer of Japanese white sauce drizzled on top.

At a price of $10.50, served with a side salad and a fountain drink, this Wings & Rice special is a crowd-pleaser during the lunch rush.

Customer Terrence Sartor has tried various restaurants in Tucson that specialize in chicken wings, but claims Wings & Rice as his preferred spot.

“I love wings, and these are my favorite wings,” Sartor said. “This definitely is the best wings for the best price.”

Wings & Rice’s wide variety of dishes joined with their meal specials can be credited for maintaining a steady flow of business from locals and tourists alike for the past 13 years and many more to come.

“They’re always about quality, not just about making money,” Alston said. “They want their customers to be happy.”

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