Wednesday, 10 November 2010

WING SHOP 366 ~ Toronto ON

It was a dark and stormy night. A Saturday if I remember correctly, many weeks ago. The pavement was wet and the lights played tricks like some 1940's film noir. I was tired and walking Bloor Street. My stomach rumbled. It was past supper time and I needed food. As I stumbled through the rain soaked sidewalk, I looked up, and like a lighthouse by the sea, I saw a sign with fried chicken on it. It said K.O. Burgers, but I looked up higher, and saw a sign saying Wing Shop 366. Burgers? Wings? Was this a mirage? All I knew was that I was going in to find out.

The inside was . . . interesting to say the least. In the front sat a lone man, who seemed the type to always be alone. He sat watching the people and the rain out the front window, while he nursed a beer that sat with several empty bottles . At the back of the place was a family at a table, who were finished or very close to finishing their meal. A couple in their late 40's came in where I heard the woman describe me as looking like 'Charlie'*** from "Two and a Half Men" while her partner used the washroom, then left without ordering anything.

The furniture was a strange mix of hard chairs at small tall tables and 'comfy' chairs around low tables from someone's basement. It looks like a take-out joint with extra space so they threw in some seating. There was no interior decorator to this place; this is clearly a DIY job.

I walked up to the counter where I was greeted by a friendly young lady. She was ready to take my order, but I had to scan their list of 66 flavours. That led me to many questions. Many questions that the girl at the counter could not answer. She seemed to be relatively new and was baffled by my wing specific enquireries.

I was not deterred and ordered with little or no information. Cowboy ordering. I went with 4 Snack orders so I could try as much as possible. She took the orders and soon enough my wings were ready.

The wings are said to be hand-battered, but I'm willing to bet they mean breaded. I could be wrong though because my wings were neither breaded or battered. I think you have to request it, where I assumed that was how they came.

A Snack order is 5 wings, which are deep fried, and depending on the flavour, are tossed in a small skillet with the sauce so that it is cooked into the skin. What I like about this process is that the sauces are warm on the wings and not cold. It also means the sauce melds with the chicken. What I don't like is that the wings go from being crispy to soft as the skin absorbs the sauce.

The chicken itself was large. Long wings with a lot of meat on them. Not the most tender chicken, but each wing was pretty big.


The main sauce hot sauce. This was the first of the questions I had that went unanswered. What was the difference between Classical Hot and Signature Hot? I went with Signature, because it gives the impression that it is a homemade sauce. It is not.

It's a cayenne based sauce, probably Frank's. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . . other than I don't know how it is signature.

The photo above is a clear example how crispy wings became soggy after being heated in a pan with the sauce. They were still good and the 'cooked' in flavour was good, but you loose the texture.

Wow, was I way off on what I thought was going on with these wings. I saw Chilli Pickles and I assumed (never assume) that this was a spicy dill pickle wing. No, it was pickled chili - a condiment often found with Indian dishes (and I saw the jar they came from that confirmed this).

First, these were crispy wings. Unlike the other flavours I tried, these were just tossed  with the chilli's in a bowl. Because it was not really a sauce but a wing accompaniment it preserved the wing integrity, but, it was a little hard to eat as the chillies fall off very easily.

The best way to describe the flavour is interesting. I mean I`ve never had a wing like this before. There is a little heat because you`ve got the chili and its' seeds. But then there is the sour pucker from the pickling. It made a unique pairing the dry crispy wings and the tart/sour chili.

I love General Tao chicken. So when I saw this on the menu, I knew it would be one of the 4 to sample. I've been burned with the title before, with some places serving up a teriyaki sauce or something that just isn't like any General Tao I had before. Fortunately, this was not one of those places.

Appropriately gooey and very messy, this is a great example of what I envision a General Tao wing.

The sauce was a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet. That yin-yang balance that makes you want more. I'm pretty sure this was a homemade sauce that I liked. And while the skin is not as crispy as say the plain wing, the viscous sauce clung on and just worked well with the chicken. I would go for General Tao again for sure.

This is the 66th and last sauce on the menu. Seven explosion icons telling the reader 'This is the Hottest Sauce on the menu.' I had to pick this as my last choice.

I watched them make the sauce. They took anything that looked, smelled or tasted spicy and mixed it all together. Ladles of sauce from one jar, spices from another. A crazy concoction for sure that I could see the cooking staff tried to keep their face away from.

This wing definitely had a bit. It was a heat that really attacked the back of the throat, but left my lips and tongue relatively tingle free. I would notch it above hot into the suicide range, but I expected a much bigger kick with the reaction for the staff and the things I saw in it. The flavour was ok - not the best combination - but it wasn't bad either. If this is what the Devil's got, then bring him on.


Interesting and unique. That is the best way to describe Wing Shop 366. Big wings that are then cooked again with the sauce. You lose the crispy chicken, but you get a melding of flavours. And some sauces you won't get elsewhere. I don't think everyone will like these wings, and I don't think no one will like the decor, but I do think there is some value in their wings. I'm also curious to try their burgers, and they even have a wing/burger combo, but that is for a different night.   6.5/10

Wing Shop 366 & K.O. Burgers
366 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON

*** - I don't know how to take that. The woman said it with enthusiasm referring specifically to the shirt I was wearing. But still, Charlie Sheen isn't exactly a flattering comparison. People tell me I look like Kevin Smith/Silent Bob all the time, but Charlie Sheen, no.

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