KARACHI, PAKISTAN: Chop Chop Wok started at the top of its game and it’s still going strong. Their food is consistently good, servers have a swagger and the restaurant’s design is a celebration of communal eating.
The popular noodle bar recently opened a second outlet in a small, casual corner spot in Badar Commercial, Karachi. The new polished place has the right chi for a noodle and rice bar. A long wooden table crowded with stools gives you a front-seat view of the open stainless steel kitchen where chefs skilfully manipulate smoking hot woks. If you want some privacy you can also opt for one of the traditional Japanese-inspired dining booths.
While most dishes listed on the limited menu at Chop Chop Wok are neither new nor novel, it’s the priority they give to individual preferences that sets them apart. With the three-step wok one can select from a variety of noodles and rice options followed by flavouring and protein. It gives you the freedom to experiment with flavours and establish favourites.
As an appetiser, the Wasabi Prawns (Rs690) really sets the tone for the whole dining experience. Infused with just the right amount of wasabi to pack a punch, the carefully stacked mayo-dressed crispy prawns on a bed of chopped iceberg lettuce are a shining example of how flavours are layered in each dish.
Each dish at the restaurant is better than the next, no matter in what order you eat them. Their dainty Chinese Chicken Salad (Rs300), a stack of vibrant vegetable logs and chicken strips coated in a fiery dressing topped with crisps to provide an extra textural element, may appear to be a simple dish. What amplifies it, however, is the mild peanut butter flavour in the dressing which binds all the ingredients together and cuts the heat.
When it comes to the ‘three-step wok’ the combination of the newly-introduced soba noodles paired with oriental flavours and prawns, accented with diced tofu, is particularly sublime (Rs550). The dark brown noodles have a slurpy consistency and coiled in a black bowl accentuates the vibrant colours of the dish.
To add excitement to the dish, there are condiments on the table as well, including finely chopped peanuts and red chilli paste, in matching black ramekins.
But the unexpected star of the menu is their Teryaki Chicken (Rs570), a savoury concoction of short-grain, glutinous rice with bite-sized chicken cubes in a sweet, thick teriyaki sauce.
Barring the moderately loud sounds at peak hours, the only major setback for the restaurant is the lack of wheelchair access, with only a staircase leading up to the elevated entrance. But if you can look past these, do wok your way to Chop Chop Wok and enjoy the beautifully assembled dishes without the formality that often accompanies them.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Verdict: Chop Chop Wok is on to something exciting. The eatery’s mastery of the stir-fry technique is the perfect antidote to unhealthy fast food. Except for the long wait, little disappointment awaits you inside.