While vada pavs, paani puri and dosas will always be our all-time favourites, the last 2 years or so have seen a new entrant into the list of street food. What with a large section of people understanding the flavours and developing the taste for it, this new dish seems to be here to stay – the famous Chinese street food- The WOK.
For those of you who don’t know, let me explain the concept of a wok. A wok is basically an assortment of vegetables, greens and meat (if desired) tossed together with noodles or rice, coated with an assortment of chinese sauces (Schezwan, Black Pepper, Chilly Basil, etc) and handed across the counter in a take-away box. The USP of the concept and what makes it so incredibly sellable is CUSTOMISATION. The customer gets to hand pick the vegetables, the protein, the type of noodle/rice and the sauces as per his or her liking, giving each one the feeling of exclusivity. nother advantage of woks is that the portion is healthy and reasonably priced. (Rs. 150-200 on an average)
Earlier, the concept of a WOK was only known in Colaba’s well known “All Stir Fry.” Despite being an amazing place with good food and a great ambience, that one joint situated at Colaba just wasn’t accessible for everyone. Now, with the evolution of Woks in Mumbai, woks are available at different eateries across the city.
The first wok I had was from WOK IN THE BOX at Carter Road, Bandra. I was left rather stunned but also fascinated, by the array of vegetables and sauces that could be chosen from, to prepare my own exclusive wok. The result was a concoction with an alarming number of sauces but the end result was still surprisingly good.
Today, there are THREE different places that serve woks at Carter road alone. There are at least 7 in Bandra and many more all over the city.
Here are the names of a few- Wok in the Box, Wok Express, Wok Hei, Five Fat Monks, The Wok House, Wok this Way, Emprino. Phew! So Many Woks, so little time,
Wok in the Box is by far the most popular having outlets at prominent locations in the city (Bandra, Lower Parel, Fort). Five Fat Monks serves the largest portion but charges slightly more than the other places. Wok Express has a number of outlets as well and has the plus-point of adequate seating. Wok This Way’s menu has better variety- soups, salads and woks to go with your wok. My favourite from the lot is Emprino. Emprino allows just the one sauce, but in terms of taste and freshness, reigns supreme over the rest. It also has combo deals in which dumplings/wantons and a soft drink is served along with the wok making it a proper wholesome meal charged approximately Rs.200 to 250.