When you work somewhere for a long time, you get pretty familiar with the food options in the area. You figure out which places have the best lunch specials, which ones always have the longest lines, which ones are great for large groups, and which ones will never let you down. One of the funny things about work life is that when a new place gets built near an office, everyone starts buzzing about it. Recently, a pizza place closed down by my office, and soon after, my coworkers and I all started noticing that something interesting was being built in its place. It’s really a mystery of New York how it can take months, if not years, to repair something at a residential building, but new businesses go up and down in no time. Before long, we had Wok to Walk as an option.
I know it’s getting a little tired calling things “the Chipotle of ____” or saying “It’s like Chipotle but with ____” but it’s a real trend in casual food joints to have a create-your-own aspect to the menu, no matter what kind of cuisine it is. Why no one ever says Chipotle is like Subway but for burritos, is a big ol’ question mark to me, but the former seems to get the cred for creating a system that lets you pick and choose your ingredients to make a customized meal. At Wok to Walk, this approach is applied to stir-fry.
It’s all done in three steps here. Step 1 is selecting your base between egg noodles, whole-wheat noodles, rice noodles, udon noodles, white rice, whole grain rice, or vegetables. All but the last also come with egg. Step 2 is choosing your favorite additions from things like beef, squid, tofu, peppers, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and pineapple. You can also choose to add toppings like peanuts, fried onion, and sesame seeds. Step 3 is picking your sauce from eight options, which are themed based on places in Asia like the yellow curry and coconut Bangkok sauce, the black bean and soybean Shanghai sauce, and the garlic and black pepper Saigon sauce.
Waring: You should be careful about getting too crazy with the additions here because they are NOT free. Each one has a different price but adding some sort of protein is around $2.50 to $3, extra veggies are around $1.50 to $1.70, and the toppings are $0.60 each. As you can see, things can add up quickly, especially since the starting price for a base and sauce is $5.50. I wasn’t going to stand in front of the cashier, calculating every last dime in my head while ordering, so I just decided that four toppings shouldn’t hurt my wallet too much. I got the egg noodles plus shrimp, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, and fried garlic with the Bali sauce, which is a slightly spicy peanut sauce. That ran me around $12, so not too much damage and not bad for a quick meal. It also helped that it was a much larger serving than I was expecting. When I got my carton of noodles, I was surprised by how much weight it had to it, and when I opened it up, it was filled to the absolute brim.
To be honest, I didn’t have super high expectations for this place, but I wouldn’t necessarily have high expectations for any quick, lunch spot. But Wok to Walk was really above average for the kind of place it is. I don’t know if it’s just because I hit the nail on the idea with my choices, but I thought my order was pretty darn tasty and the hefty serving was a huge plus. It was also a really thoughtful idea to have cartons with circular bottoms, which is not something you necessarily think about but made it that much easier to scoop up every list bit of noodle that would’ve otherwise gotten stuck. Oh, and while you’re there, spend some time watching the cooks make your dish to order. The restaurant is set up so that you get a view of the wok skills and fiery show.
Egg noodles with shrimp, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, and fried garlic with Bali sauce
42 Union Sq
New York, NY 10003