Monday, May 04, 2009

Kitchen Wok

668 Erb St. West
Waterloo, Ontario N2T 2Z7

Being new parents and all, our opportunities for fine dining are few and far in between. It feels like we've turned in our foodie credentials, and any opportunity to eat out (anywhere!) is a luxurious indulgence these days. Out here on the west side of Waterloo, there aren't many choices other than strip mall Chinese take-out, which seems to be a design requirement when building suburban plazas. That said, these places have come a long way since the egg roll and sweet and sour chicken ball of the 70's.

Kitchen Wok is a new restaurant that opened in the so called Westside Marketplace (i.e. Canadian Tire plaza at the roundabout). It focuses on take-out, but has a few tables and chairs for diners as well. We've tried it a few times and have been mostly pleased with the quality, although expectations were not high to begin with. Everything we've ordered has been cooked freshly -- the battered items are always pleasingly crisp under the sauce -- and vegetables are rarely overcooked. With over 120 items on the menu, there appears to be a large varity of dishes but as with most Chinese menus, many are just duplicates with the protein changed. Some highlights:

General Tso's Chicken - a generous portion of battered chicken pieces in a spicy sauce on broccoli. Despite the "mild" description on the menu, this is nicely spicy and well done. The broccoli tends to get soggy quickly in the plastic take-out container though.

Moo Shu - stir fried bamboo, eggs, vegetables with beef/chicken/pork or shrimp. Meant to be wrapped in "pancakes" (four are included) but even as a filling, this is excessively salty. Tasty, but very salty.

Jar Doo Chicken Wings - we always get this as the "freebie" for cash take-out orders over $25. While it may seem these are only deep fried chicken wings, they are marinated first. Again, very greasy, but tasty.

Orange Chicken - the bitterness of the orange peel and rind really killed this dish. They were not cooked enough with the dish, and didn't impart any flavour to the chicken or sauce, only bitterness.

Ho Feng - the rice noodles were either under soaked or stale the last two times we tried this. They tended to break apart easily and were not the correct texture or consistency. China Garden's version of this is far superior.

Shanghai Noodles - My main criticism of this dish is that it is just too plain. Chinese food is known for it's strong, bold flavours, and this one just doesn't deliver.

Overall, there is a large variety of dishes that would not have been found in the suburbs just 10 years ago. There are some hits and some misses, but as a greasy, salty indulgence for harried parents, you can't go wrong.

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