We Revisit Wok to Walk and Find Something to Love

When Wok to Walk opened, we were meh about it despite a nifty format. With Asian options galore elsewhere (such as, for example, literally right next door), it seemed something of a waste of time and money despite a fresh, visible preparation that involved afterburners. We got word from one of their brand people that the message was received, and they were sending an ops person to improve things a little bit. Can they raise above mediocre, under-utilized bacon or are we looking at an empty bottle of Johnnie Woker?

Whenever I’ve walked past Wok to Walk, the line has been consistently running out of the place. They’re doing something right, despite our original concerns. Enough to woo some former co-workers I ran into while walking by (shout-outs to my guys at PITG).

Today’s option: egg noodles with pork (bacon has been replaced by its less hipsterized cousin), shiitake mushrooms, fried garlic, and fried onions in Bali sauce (“peanut sauce, Oriental style”). That massive schlog of peanuts on top is unexpected, but I won’t complain. I will, however, note that this combo was $10.30 before tax – over the ML limit.

If I’d gotten most any other veggie topping but the shrooms, I’d be even closer to the $10 limit, and I wish I did. This big morass of noodles looks good, but the mushrooms (there’s one on top of the noodle pile here) are barely cooked enough to bring out their flavor. The other veggies are generally $1.30, the shrooms $1.50.

I gotta say, though, this Bali sauce is what Wok to Walk got rightest of the right. It was very peanutty but not too thick, not too thin. It needed the quick hit of soy sauce to round things out, but that brought it from juuuuust a bit of sweet spicy nuttiness to “this is it, this is the stuff.” Last time I had a peanut sauce so well-balanced, it was at a hole-in-the-wall noodle stand when I was studying in Brisbane.

Conspicuously absent was something to cut the texture, though. The pork had enough char and dry bite to it, and the sauce went throughout the dish and flavored things nicely, I just wish there was more of a variation to things. The few crunches of veggies I got were enough to remind me that there wasn’t much crunch. It looks like Wok to Walk’s veggie base is just a conglomeration of shredded non-Nappa cabbage and the vague carrots. I wish they at least threw some more scallions in there, or some bok choy. Even regular American broccoli would be great.

Despite its faults, Wok to Walk has put itself back in the running with a quick retool. I kind of resent the no-frills business model when many other places give you more for cheaper. Still, though, it’s solid real food and my stomach assigned the complements better than I could: I wanted to save it, but I couldn’t stop eating. Worth the schlep or the price? To me, not quite, but it’s worth a second visit and I’m glad I took it. Just stick to the Bali sauce!

Wok to Walk, 570 8th Ave. (at 38th St.)

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