Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wok! Wok! Wok! Pan Asian Cuisine

First there were three…then two…and now just one!  We really liked Wok Star, a pan-Asian restaurant in Lenoir City Tennessee.  It’s gone now…disappeared amidst the rubble of failed dreams!  We really liked it.  We’d even taken our son and his family to eat there when they came in from the Cleveland Ohio area.  They had expressed envy that we had Wok Star and they didn’t. (To see my feedback on that visit, go to

The owner of Wok Star allegedly had a business relationship with another restaurateur…who in turn supposedly took the Wok Star format and opened his own place in Knoxville… The name of that restaurant is Wok Chow.  In addition, Ruby Tuesday’s operated this style of restaurant in the Turkey Creek/Knoxville Tennessee shopping area…and its name was Wok Hay!
In any case, with Wok Star closed, David II and his family were coming to visit us once again…and our son insisted that we drive down into Knoxville for dinner at Wok Chow.  It promised the closest menu in relationship to his experience with Wok Star…
As was with Wok Star, Wok Chow Fire Seared Asian restaurant is located in a strip shopping center.  However, it’s about 25 minutes further from our house than Wok Star was…
The format at Wok Chow is indeed very similar to the one we’d experienced at Wok Star.  The menu is posted on the wall near the door and you place your order with the cashier.  The kitchen is open to for the patron’s viewing and the dining area was clean and uncluttered.  You’re given a number and the food is delivered to your table as soon as it’s ready.
I’ll bet that you thought that the next photo would be food…!  Nope…We just had to include photos of our grandsons.  Emmett Lee (9) is on the left and David III (12) is on the right… We couldn’t ask for better grandsons!
Now…on to the food!!  Since I was buying, David II ordered a plethora of appetizers to start us out.  These are the Seared Chicken Potstickers. ($5.50) They were very good! (Note: Despite all of the food that follows, our bill at the diner the night before was still larger than this one...)
This is an order of the Dynamite Shrimp. ($8.00) They were flash fried and tossed in a spicy Asian sauce.  While they were good and I would order them again, we all agreed that we preferred the now ‘extinct’ Wok Star version.
Crab Rangoon is one of Laurie’s favorite appetizers. ($5.75) She liked the shape of this version of Crab Rangoon…easier to handle and eat…and she thought they were pretty good but not as good as Wok Star. 
David II also ordered 2 Hand Rolled Egg Rolls. ($3.50) I was able to claim half of one of these and I thought that these were done just right.

Other appetizers include Lettuce Wraps ($7.00); Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps ($6.50) and; Popcorn Shrimp Curry ($7.50).  There are 3 soups on the menu…Hot and Sour, Egg Drop and Wonton.  The Hot and Sour and Egg Drop soups can be purchased by the cup, ($2.50) or by the bowl. ($5.00) The Wonton Soup can be purchased by the bowl only. ($5.00)
This was Emmett’s dinner.  It’s safe to say that he has a limited palate at this point in his life… How about Chicken Lo Mein, basically chicken and noodles! (Kid’s Menu - $4.25) Emmett liked it and that was what was important…
David II’s better half, Amy, ordered the Shrimp Fried Rice ($8.00) Amy thought that it was OK…but had expected that the shrimp would be steamed and presented on top of the Fried Rice.  She didn’t feel that her meal had any visual appeal.

I personally ended up using the take home portion of her meal for breakfast a day or two after the family headed home… I thought that the whole thing lacked any definitive flavor…
David III ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken. ($8.00) He finished his dinner so I have to assume that he liked his dinner just fine.

The menu includes 3 salads…a House Salad ($3.25), Thai Chicken Salad ($6.50), and an Asian Shrimp Salad. ($7.00)
Laurie’s choice for dinner was the Mongolian WokChow, beef with green onions, yellow onions, and mushrooms in a dark garlic sauce. ($8.00) She really, really enjoyed her dinner!

One significant difference between Wok Chow and its former ‘rival’ is the fact that Wok Chow offers a selection of Sushi Rolls with its dinner offerings.  These range from a California Roll (crab, avocado, cucumber and masago at $4.50), to a Unagi Roll (eel, avocado and cucumber at $5.50) to a Volcano Roll (tempura fried w/salmon, onion, masago and eel sauce at $8.50)
My entrĂ©e was the Spicy Chicken with Brown Rice…with added extra ‘heat’ please! ($7.75) I did enjoy my dinner…except that they didn’t add much heat and I had to ask for some pepper sauce.

The menu at Wok Chow seems to have more variety than we remember at Wok Star.  Of course, the clientele probably has a broader palate down in the city not too far from the University of Tennessee.  Among other choices there is Lo Mein ($8.00); Drunken Noodles ($7.75); Curry Malai ($8.50 w/shrimp); Teriyaki Tempura ($7.50 w/chicken); Moo Goo Gai Pan ($8.50); Curry Panang ($8.00) and Green Curry ($7.75 w/beef)
For David II’s dinner, he ordered Beef Kung Pao without the peanuts. (Emmett Lee has a significant nut allergy) ($7.75) Such a good son…he enjoyed his dinner and he cleaned his plate!

Perhaps its nostalgia on our part, but our memories of the food at Wok Star slightly overshadowed our immediate experience at Wok Chow.  Don’t get me wrong, we did like Wok Chow and we will return… FYI, afterwards Laurie and I decided that we needed to give Wok Hay a try so we’d have that to compare with Wok Chow.  The good news, (for Wok Chow), is that Ruby Tuesday closed all of their Wok Hay restaurants just before I planned to take Laurie and I there for dinner… So, as I said in the beginning…3 Woks, 2 Woks and now only 1 Wok!
Wok Chow is located at 4612 Kingston Pike in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-766-5457.  Their website is  The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.  It’s important to note that in 2012, Wok Chow was voted as the Best Chinese and the Best Take Out Restaurant in Knoxville.  They were also voted in as the Favorite Vegetarian Restaurant and Favorite Lunch Spot.  Pretty good credentials!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a Pan-Asian feast!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave