Hidden treasures in Manhattan are always fun to spot, no matter what the time of year it is, and many of those can be found in the heart of Chinatown. One that is worth highlighting for several different reasons is Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, as they draw influence from several different countries to develop their amazing brand of delicious cuisine.
Wok Wok isn’t the first spot we’ve hung out at while in Chinatown (that credit goes to the yummy Mexican cuisine at Pulqueria) and given how great the experience was, we would definitely go back for 2nd’s and 3rd’s and so on and so forth.
The menu is inspired by “hawker street” favorites and highlights flavors known to Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, with the heart of the cuisine showcasing Malaysian and Thai influence. Chef Erik Cheah is a Malaysian native and believes in “letting the food speak.” He holds an impressive pedigree, having interned at Per Se and had his hands in the success of Rhong Tiam and Penang.
Wok Wok’s location itself is held below street level, moderately sized and very busy given how hectic Friday night was there, so its best to get a reservation ahead of time. Chef Cheah has a valid point in letting his food speak, as it not only spoke to us, but sang beautifully as the flavor he was able to get out of each dish really was nothing short of remarkable.
Let’s bring up that word “flavor” again. For as many restaurant write-up’s as i have done, the one key thing that allows me to enjoy a location is the flavor development that each chef can get into one dish. Case in point? Their Wok Wok Fried Chicken Wings with a sweet chili sauce. Yes, the sauce is a bit spicy but let’s focus on the “sweet” here- it’s absolutely insatiable and helped make it some of the best damn wings I have ever had.
Their Grilled Chicken Satay also gets major points, as the chicken on the skewer was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of spice and the peanut butter sauce complimented the dish wonderfully. Finally, for starters, their Vietnamese Crispy Spring Rolls were wonderful, a great amount of crunch, with a light touch that worked well as a great starter dish.
The variety of what you can order outside of the traditional appetizers is quite fabulous. You have your Wok noodles, which includes familiar types such as Pad Thai, Soup Noodles, which focuses more on the depth and flavor of the broth themselves, and Stone Rice Bowls, which is a bit self-explanatory.
Their Black Pepper Stone Rice Bowl was hot: very, very hot for a long time, but I can handle the heat. The pepper sauce that came with it was truly remarkable, and is the perfect dish to have in this freezing weather we’ve been having.
I wanted to also go outside of the box and try something that I’ve never had before, so I went with a soup noodle option and tried their Ipoh Ho Fun, which consisted of chicken and shrimp, broad rice noodles with chives and bean sprouts in a crispy garlic infused oil. The broth itself was chicken broth, and when you combine all these flavors together, it makes for a wonderfully tasting bowl of deliciousness. Hands down one of the best spots I’ve visited so far this year.
For more information on Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, please check out their official site here.