Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines, Where Cocktails are Cheerful but the Toppings are Serious

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In 2010, according to City View magazine, the second-best place in Des Moines to see beautiful people was Fong’s Pizza. I’ve had my wife with me every time I’ve been to Fong’s Pizza, so the place has always been easy on my eyes. My poor wife, meanwhile, has been treated to such imagery as my post-meal resting face (as in “I can’t wipe my face right now, I’m resting”) and the smug half-smirk I wore as I showed off my Fong’s Pizza T-shirt. It’s got a ninja kicking a donkey over the words FONG’S: KICK ASS PIZZA.

She has extended her sanity a great deal by learning to ignore me, I reckon, but anyway.

Fong’s Pizza is what happens when you work a new concept into a space previously occupied for 100 years by a well-known Chinese restaurant; but, instead of insisting some trendy new vision, you build on existing credentials. The Fong’s Pizza team did exactly that when they opened in 2009 in the former King-Ying-Low space. Did you want pizza rolls made in the image of egg rolls? A mural of a waterside pagoda brushed on the back wall? Booths partitioned by window squares? Check, check, check.

So you’re led through the front door and down that narrow corridor, past a few booths, probably brushing the back of a bar-sitter, into a back room. That’s where you see poster-sized cigarette ads, that nirvanic pagoda scene, and the awards. There’s a lot to see in this back room. I’ve also been told a doorway past this room leads to a laundromat next door, though I’ve not seen it.

Of course you’ve had shots of kamikaze, but have you ever done those shots with a helmet on? You can do this at Fong’s; and, assuming you’ve a soul, you’ll be tempted to. You don’t have to click too many times to find photos of this on the Internet. Just think: that could be you. Do it sometime. You’re going to look beautiful.

You might have once had a pizza so loaded with toppings as the Sweet and Sour Chicken pizza at Fong’s is, but how long ago? Not yesterday, I bet. At Fong’s, a large Sweet and Sour Chicken pizza is only recognizable as a pizza because it’s got crust. Otherwise, the only time you see this many ingredients crammed this tightly together is on a Kindergartner’s art project. A thin sheet of cheese bravely holds down (inhales deeply) sweet and sour sauce, chicken, grilled onion, peppadew pepper, green pepper, and pineapple.

You don’t have to ask for extra here. And even if you did, where would they put it?

It’s tangy, toothsome, and eating it can be an adventure onto itself. There’s the folding, the lifting, the actual bite, and the plucking up of toppings gone overboard to pop into your still-stuffed mouth. If squirrels look so cute doing it, why don’t you think you would?

And if you’re still getting belligerent over whether pineapples belong on pizza, please: get a life.

Elsewhere on the menu, the Crab Rangoon pizza earned a review so positive on TripAdvisor, the reviewer wrote ‘YES’ with five ‘S’es and five exclamation points. Are crab rangoons available on the appetizer menu as well? YESSSSS!!!!!

Other pizzas have names like Meatzilla, Big Delicious, and Shroomin’. They play with other well-known Chinese dishes with General Tso’s Chicken, Sesame Chicken and “Fongolian Beef” pizzas. They have egg roll and loaded potato pizzas. For the serial killer, they make a Vegan Supreme. You can see the Des Moines menu here.

If you got those pizza rolls, the ones with pepperoni and cheese holed up in an egg roll-style shell, you’ll want to get a second order to go. Just trust me.

Some cocktails at Fong’s come in specific vessels. Pirate’s Cove comes in a skull glass. Meng Meng da Panda? You drink that out of a very happy-looking, helmet-rockin’ panda. Your humble author indulged in a Waving Kitty, served in a waving kitty. You’ll read on the menu that petting the Waving Kitty brings good luck, and then you’ll drink an umbrella-topped multi-rum concoction that might just awaken the spirits of past questionable life choices. It’s boozy, sweet, and comes with a straw. It’s a party-starter for sure.

You get a free slice of pizza with cocktails, too, at happy hour. It’s a nice offer; but, if you’ve come to eat anyway, don’t skip the meal you came for. I came as it was winding down. My slice was lukewarm and looked bleak. Otherwise, the food and drinks are priced in such a way – happy hour or not – that you’ll get your investment back and then some in good times.

If you’re not quite going downtown, Fong’s now has locations in Ankeny and Cedar Rapids. You can find more information on the Fong’s Pizza website.

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