Wing Review: TomKen's
Name: TomKen's Bar & Grill
MKE Wings Crew Present: Frank, Amber, Ross, Molly
Review Date: January 25, 2020
Wing Special? $0.75 Monday and Thursday, 4-10p
(Special accurate as of Jan 29, 2020)
TomKen's is probably one of my most frequented wing joints over the years, but I don't think I ever wrote an official review on the previous version of MilwaukeeWings. If you look at other online reviews for TomKen's, you will find numerous people praising this West Allis establishment for their wings. Additionally, TomKen's has also won numerous awards at the annual Milwaukee Wingfest over the years. So, while the prestige is already there, it's about time that we gave TomKen's a long overdue MilwaukeeWings review.
Myself and three other MilwaukeeWings Crew Members (Amber, Ross, and Molly) arrived early on a Saturday evening to a nearly packed house, not sure why everyone getting dinner at 4:30, but we snagged the last remaining table. One of my favorite things about TomKen's is their menu of rotating sauces. While they have their staple flavors on the menu, there's always 2-3 "rotating" flavors that mean you can always expect to find something new and different, and some of these rotating flavors can be pretty wild... years ago I remember one dusted with crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos. On this particular visit the rotating sauces were Savannah Chew (a peach, pecan BBQ sauce), Honey Sriracha, and Nectar of the Ghosts (Agave Ghost Chili). To go along with those are the regular, every day sauces: Buffalo, Garlic Buffalo, Buffalo Sings the Blues (buffalo with bleu cheese), Jerk, B3 (BBQ), JB3 (Jerk+B3 sauce), garlic Parmesan, and Honey BBQ. While 11 total sauce choices isn't the most out there, it does cover a wide spectrum of flavors and heat, any wing enthusiast should find something to their taste.
TomKen's also gives you the option to order your wings breaded or grilled. You can also split your order (in quantities of 6) if you'd like to try both options. While it can make your choices a bit more difficult, you can match up sauces based on the cook style that will compliment it best. Things like BBQ and Jerk work well with the grilled, where Buffalo Sings the Blues and Garlic Parmesan work better on the battered wing, but more on that later.
I went with an order of 18 wings (hoping for some leftovers), and I went with 6 wings each of Savannah Chew, Buffalo Sings the Blues, and Garlic Buffalo. For the Buffalo Sings the Blues I opted for breaded wings, the other two flavors I got grilled. Other wing flavors ordered by the MilwaukeeWings Crew were Garlic Parmesan and JB3.
The wings were very big, I got an order of 18 and took about half home. All of us actually had leftovers that night, a testament to the size of the wings as we were all quite hungry that evening. Generally I'm not a big fan of breaded wings, but the TomKen's breading works well, good flavor, stays pretty crisp, and does a great job at helping sauce cling to the wing.
With tons of wings on the table, how were the sauces?
Buffalo Sings the Blues. When I go to TomKens I get this flavor EVERY SINGLE TIME. In all my years of eating wings and running this site, this has always been one of my favorites. I can best describe this sauce as a zippy but not too spicy buffalo sauce with creamy bleu cheese crumbles right in the sauce. It comes together perfectly, the cayenne heat, the tangy and creamy bleu cheese. If I ever assembled a 'greatest hits' list of sauces, this is certainly on there, it's a must try! I would also recommend you get this sauce on a breaded wing over grilled. I've had it both ways, and I feel the blue cheese is really lost on the grilled wing.
Savannah Chew. Over the years, I've had some great sauces from TomKen's rotating selection, but his one didn't to it for me. The peach BBQ was quite sweet which was expected, but really not any peach flavor aside from the sweetness. The pecan flavor was front and center in the sauce and the crushed pecans on top of the wing added to it. While it wasn't my cup of tea, others in the group tonight enjoyed this sauce quite a bit. That fact I didn't care for it too much I don't like pecans much, I probably should have picked something else. Like any BBQ based sauce, this one is works well on a grilled wing.
Garlic Buffalo, not too much to elaborate on here, just a really solid garlicky buffalo sauce. I had it grilled and it was great, the flavor was pronounce despite not being overly saucy as the result of the grilling. TomKen's has this sauce in their 'hot' category, I'd say more comparable to a medium at other places. I'd actually say this to many of their sauces I've had over the years, never quite as hot as they seem to warn. I've had sauces from their 'insane' category that were hot, certainly not "insane". Nothing wrong with this, just a word of advice for any heat seekers out there.
Garlic Parm - I was able to snag a grilled Garlic Parm wing from one of my wing crew members, I've also had this flavor n the past. Now having it grilled I can say this flavor is one to get on a breaded wing. With the breading, this is a great flavor, creamy, garlicky and full of Parmesan flavor, it's actually one of my favorite garlic parm sauces out there. But on a grilled wing, all those great flavors were a bit lost.
I also want to note a few of the rotating sauces I've had in the past and enjoyed but not available on the date of our review. Nutty Rooster is a tasty, slightly spicy peanut sauce that's great if your into Thai-style peanut sauces. The other rotating sauce I'd like to mention is a bacon-BBQ sauce, the name of which I can't seem to remember, but whatever it is called, definitely worth trying if you see it on the menu.
At the time of this review, the normal menu price for wings is a dollar a wing if you order 18 (a bit more if you get less) and they have a $0.75 special on Mondays and Thursdays. Normal menu price is pretty average, and great to have two nights of the week to snag a deal.
TomKen's is a prime reason why I think West Allis may very well be the center of the wing universe. Huge wings, two wing specials, bold flavors, prepped how you like, special rotating flavors... there isn't really any box TomKen's doesn't check when it comes to great wings. That said, we can easily say TomKen's is a Milwaukee Wings Hall of Fame Wing Joint.