To tell you the truth, up until recently I've never heard of the Wok Box. Apparently they have locations all over Western Canada and some in Washington state. Probably the main reason is that I rarely pay attention to establishments like these. After all, with all the authentic Asian restaurants around, why would I care? Well, here is the thing. It seems like that the word "fusion" is fast becoming a dirty word. It essentially advertises the fact that "food served here is not authentic". With Wok Box, they serve everything Asian. You name it, they have it. Chinese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Mongolian cuisine are all served here. At this point, I'm sure there are some of you who are reaching for the mouse and heading for the "close window X". Hang on, bear with me on this one. The reason I tried Wok Box today was not because I was in search of authentic food. If I wanted authentic Asian cuisine; trust me, I know where to find it. Instead, I was on my way home and wanted to grab a bite and also pick up some take out for Viv. Now, I could have visited McD's, Wendy's and the sort; but I was not in the mood for that type of food.
So, I headed over to the Wok Box with a perfectly open mind and no prejudices. When I walked into the place, I was rather taken aback because it was quite nicely decorated. Manchu Wok this is not. A bit confused, I walked over to take a look at the menu. I was handed a take home menu which helped explain the dishes a bit better. At first, I was quite overwhelmed by the many choices that were available. I decided to get quite a few dishes for both tasting and pictures. The Coconut Shrimp caught my fancy because it reminded me of the ones I had at Bubba Gump. They turned out to be pretty good. The perfectly cooked shrimp were coated by sweet and crunchy coconut. Served on the side was a curry coconut dip. The dip was quite bold and flavourful, don't use too much, it overwhelms the shrimp.
I had originally also ordered the Vietnamese Salad Roll; but they didn't get their delivery of rice wrappers yet. Therefore, they offered me any other appetizer, even ones that were more expensive. I appreciated their professional and generous handling of this inconvenience. I ended up substituting the salad roll with the Ginger Beef. Now, for most Chinese people, ginger beef isn't exactly what they make at home or even order at a restaurant. With that being said, I'm not much of a stickler when it comes to what a Chinese person should or shouldn't order. I'm happy with anything that ultimately tastes good. Unlike most variations of ginger beef I've had, this one at the Wok Box was not the chewy, over fried and unidentifiable strips you'd find everywhere else. Rather, they were large strips of beef that were only slightly fried and bathed in a light ginger glaze. The glaze itself was a bit bland. I would have preferred a richer and more ginger tasting sauce; but knowing that all the sauces are pre-made, I should not expect much.
For my main, I got a regular-sized Korean Beef Bulgogi Bowl. There are 3 sizes for everything main entree - Lunch ($6.49), Regular ($10.99) and Sumo ($19.99). Presented in a large bowl, there was quite a bit of beef over a huge mound of rice. I really didn't mind this dish, it was full of well-seasoned beef and crisp carrots. A quick call to Viv and she decided on the Szechwan Pepper Chicken on Rice. Now, for Szechwan aficionados, the sauce in this dish might offend. But again, it was pleasant to eat with lots of fresh crispy veggies and chicken. However, the sauce was more sweet than spicy; thus not really being Szechwan. Furthermore, it was too bad the chicken was already pre-cooked.
Alright, the meal at the Wok Box was decent. Please don't give me heck for it. I liked it in a perverse manner that would make many of my Asian friends cringe and insult me. But let me ask you this - if the food you eat is decent, do you really care who is making it and where you are eating it? Sure, the Wok Box has this "Panda-Express" thing going on; yet all their food is cooked to order, so it's not sitting there under a heat lamp. It ain't authentic, but it never claims to be. Although you won't find me seeking out Wok Box locations; I don't mind eating it either.
- Diverse selection of Asian dishes
- Clean and inviting dining space
- Really quick meal for dine-in and take-out
- Not "authentic" for those who care about that
- A bit pricey compared to an actual Asian restaurant