Chicken on the Run/Crown Palace
405 Craigflower Rd.
Victoria West, BC
(250) 385 – 3468
E: When I leave the decision making up to James in where we should go next, Perhaps I should’ve honestly interjected and said, “Are you crazy?”
Chicken on the Run and Crown Palace operate under the same roof. They’re technically a take-out operation. And when we saw that there was a small area for dine-in, James got the idea we should try the best of both worlds, Chinese and Western cuisine.
J: The issue I was having wasn’t the lack of dining space, it was moreso the lack of a public washroom. If it wasn’t for the availability of the Victoria West Community Centre’s facilities, I would’ve been scouting bushes in Banfield Park. I always wondered why the place was so green.
After exiting the centre, I still had about 15 minutes to kill before our meal was ready. I decided to wander, leaving Ed to the smells and sounds of Chinese cooking.
There was one place on my mind that I hadn’t visited in many years, the Dominion Grocery store. It’s run by the family of an old George Jay Elementary schoolmate of mine, Ian Tan. And to my amazement, it was still there. I had just enough time to chat with Ian’s parents (still as nice as I remember) and purchase a Joe Louis chocolate cake.
E: I could have followed James. No matter where I take this man, he seems to have this excellent recall ability of what existed 20 plus years ago. Old age must be affecting him differently.
But as he returned, our meals were ready, all packed up as though for take-out. And I was right to think we ordered too much. I saved the three piece chicken dinner for next day while we chowed down on some extremely spicy peppercorn calamari ($8.95). They were intense and great when hot. The meat was very soft.
J: I cursed myself when I reached for water only to find a soft drink instead. When eating spicy foods, don’t try to quench the fires of Hell with Coke or Pepsi. It’s like putting out a campfire with lighter fluid. But as the dish cooled, much of the calamari’s spicy punch was lost.
E: I’m definitely coming back here for more squid. I’d also try a few more of this operation’s other Chinese innovations. Their Wor Wonton isn’t too bad. That’s provided that diners do the right thing and stir the pot a bit so that all the flavours are not sitting at the bottom. I quite liked the vegetable broth and their dumplings are non-traditional. It was made with a combination of pork and hetang pickles. The taste was very different.
I’m traditional in the sense that I like my wontons with a bit of shrimp or prawns. Here, they’re served as part of the soup, and these aren’t your typical baby sized pieces.
J: I found no flavour in the wonton with the exception of the pork dumplings. They were very light in their taste. It’s a simple matter of the ingredients being drowned out by using too much water. It wasn’t until I emptied out half of the liquid that I found the delectable broth. Crown Palace was done, but how would Chicken on the Run fare?
E: Call me tomorrow after I have my arteries declogged. Although the chicken was very greasy, they have a batter which added a nice crisp to the soft meat. I only had one piece that day. The wedge fries were impressive. These were no doubt freshly cut and battered up in its own solution. While I would have liked them a bit thinner, these fries are certainly a winner for those looking for uniqueness. Plus, both tasted better after reheating them.
J: The wedge fries were more salty than I wished and even though my chicken dripped a little too much grease, it reminded me of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the 1980’s, only tastier.
The coleslaw that came with our 3-piece meal (see, KFC!) was light, cool and not drenched with mayonnaise as some places tend to do.
Ed and I walked (staggered) away happy enough. We even kept our plastic containers because they’re mutli-use, like for holding nails. But what about my screws?
3½ Blokes out of 5
I grew up in Vic West, and Crown Palace remains my favourite Chinese food place to this day. I have never had ginger beef that I liked better than theirs! I confess that I've never tried Chicken on the Run, though. Aside from the greasiness, it sounds pretty good! I know at least one person who would enjoy something reminiscent of KFC's old style.