I’ve resisted the temptation for the most part, but I gave in the other day to satisfy a craving for Chinese food.
In the mood for finding something new, I wandered down Williamson Road to China Wok.
The parking lot is only big enough for five or six cars, but I took it as a healthy sign that the lot was full and I had to park at the Walgreen’s next door. It was obvious China Wok does a huge takeout business and I loved how the kitchen was full of Asians. I placed my order and waited as people kept filing through picking up food to go.
From what I could tell during the time I was waiting, nearly everything at China Wok appeared to be freshly prepared. The busy kitchen was full of staff, and I even noticed a cook by the fryer making fresh, crunchy wonton noodles. Nice touch.
Many restaurants and cultures have different versions of chow mein, so it’s difficult to know what you’ll get from any given kitchen, but like I mentioned earlier, I was in the mood for something different.
The China Wok version doesn’t include noodles. Considering the definition of “chow mein” includes reference to fried noodles, this was quite different. Instead of noodles, the side of white rice served as the base of the dish alongside the meat and vegetables. Also, I believe this was a steamed version of chow mein. It featured chicken, onions, celery and cabbage, and based on the color and texture, I assume it was prepared via steam.
It was...odd. The portions were enormous, meaning I was able to have half for lunch and half for dinner, and I liked that there weren’t any of the sugary, greasy elements you can sometimes get with Chinese food. I would have liked more variety in the vegetables aside from onions, celery and cabbage, but that’s an easy correction.
I certainly wasn’t unhappy with my meal - I just don’t think it’s something I’d order again. However, the crispy wontons were delicious and I sprinkled them on top of my chow mein to give it some added crunch and flavor.
China Wok remains a bit of a mystery to me. I was stunned that so many people were in-and-out during the lunch hour, and I’m wondering if this could be one of the hidden spots of Williamson Road that’ll never make it in food magazines.
I’d say I’m intrigued enough to return for a second visit...and order something different.
4821 Williamson Road NW
Roanoke, VA 24012