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Wok Asian Stir Fry restaurant provides fresh food in just-right portions

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Editor's note: The two articles in this package today launch a new, occasional series focusing on local eating establishments. The series is under the heading of Eating Around: A guide to Southern Crescent vittles. Bon appetit, y'all.

As you walk into Wok Asian Stir Fry, located at 2079 Mt. Zion Road, in Morrow, the design of the eating area will not scream "Chinese," but, instead, gives you a modern and chic sense of place. The whites, beiges and greens make the small restaurant seem larger than it is.

Although a big part of its business is take-out, the restaurant is not a typical Chinese take-out venue, where you feel much more comfortable getting your food quickly, and eating at home, while watching a movie. It is inviting, intriguing and different.

There is a welcoming atmosphere in which to dine, and even a convenient, drive-through area.

"The taste, the quality of the food, it is fresh, hot -- and they're fast," said Jonesboro resident, Latasha Barkley, who was dining in on a recent day.

The menu includes items such as bourbon chicken, honey sesame chicken, chicken teriyaki-garden veggies and Mongolian beef, to name just a few.

Entrees typically cost from $4.95 to $9.95, with the more expensive meals usually containing seafood, often in some combination of shrimp, lobster and scallops. To turn an entree into a combination meal, there is an additional $1.79 charge for fried rice, an egg roll and a soft drink.

On one of my many visits to the restaurant, I decided to order a general's chicken combination meal. The chicken was flavorful and it seemed as if the taste of the ingredients exploded in my mouth -- in a positive way. The fried rice was soft, and not too greasy, and to my surprise, I was satisfied.

Usually, after eating Chinese take-out, most people might find themselves feeling uncomfortably bloated, to the point of having to lie down and indulge in a nap.

Patrons might be surprised to find that meals, here, are served at an adequate size.

"It is a little bit lighter, specially with the spring roll, and very different, in the fact that it didn't have saturated oil coming out of the spring roll," said Master Sgt. Wayne Niles, of the U.S. Army, who is stationed at Fort Gillem.

"The honey sesame seed chicken, it is the best I've had," added Sgt. Daltrey Fryer, also from Fort Gillem. "You can taste more of the honey flavor of it, without it being too sweet."

The restaurant's kitchen is small, but clean. According to Gary Lin, owner of Wok Asian Stir Fry, patrons only eat fresh food that is delivered regularly by vendors, and no canned foods are used.

Lin said the cooks do not use vegetable oil, when preparing chicken, beef, or shrimp, that is not breaded. The vegetables, along with the meats, or shrimp are boiled with water. "That way, you get no fat, no grease," explained Lin.

Lin said the restaurant's most popular combination meal is the bourbon chicken.

The restaurant uses the American method, to cook the bourbon chicken, he said.

Without any oil, the chicken is placed on the flat grill, and within seconds, the fat and grease begin to drain away. Then, the meat is placed in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

When asked why he opts to cook bourbon chicken on a flat grill, instead of using the Wok method of cooking, Lin responded, "Because it tastes better. The flat grill will give it a unique fragrance, compared to Wok."

If you use the drive-through window to make an order, the process is efficient, and the food is ready within minutes, with the same fresh taste.

When dining in, though, the ambiance is nice. Unfortunately, there is only one cashier, and when the drive-through is busy, you might find yourself having to wait a little to get the attention of the cashier. So, if you are in a rush, I would recommend that you use the drive-through.

Another minor defect is that tables don't provide customers with napkin holders. If you would like to obtain a napkin, while dining in, you have to stand up, and retrieve napkins from the fountain-drink area.

Overall, the restaurant provides its patrons with fresh food, a good atmosphere and at reasonable prices. It is open seven says a week: Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m., to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 10:30 a.m., to 11 p.m.; and Sundays, from noon, to 10 p.m.

Maria Jose Subiria covers business, and transportation for the Clayton News Daily.