Wok on Inn Restaurant Launch at The Rocks, Sydney
We were invited along to the launch of restaurant Wok on Inn at The Rocks in Sydney on Wednesday 13th November. It was scheduled for earlier in the week however Sydney had been hit with an intense downpour and it was agreed to push back the launch by a couple of days, lucky enough, the came out which made for a wonderful evening under the stars.
Mrs Spicy and I arrived just after 6:30pm to an event that literally rolled out the red carpet with a traditional Chinese theme throughout……they even had a rickshaw. Unfortunately no rides for me 🙁
Wok on Inn is an open-aired outdoor restaurant with a large area for socialising or live entertainment. We pick a table next to the DJ so we could get a good view of everything going on, not 30 seconds later drinks arrive. Keeping with the theme, I order a Singha Beer (Thailand import) and Mrs Spicy orders a bottle of Rolling Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Cumulus Estate Wines near Orange, NSW Australia.
With drinks in hand it was time to look around the restaurant to see what was on offer in the food arena. At the end of the elevated dining area was the outdoor kitchen setup with 3 wok burners already blazing away giving me that feeling of Hawker style food carts you usually find in SE Asia, specifically Thailand or Malaysia. Nowhere to be seen were plates, bowls or china for the food and in their place were stacks of bamboo boat shaped bowls, which was was noticeably different and put a cute spin on things.
With woks getting oiled and heated up we could smell the spices in the air and the chefs busy prepping their stations……we were hoping they’d pick up on our look of hungered desperation while hovering around them and send some food love our way. Not a moment too soon and the chef started flaming up the kitchen with everyone looking on eagerly…..taking me back to my days in Thailand.
Wok on Inn owner Ankur Sehgal, also known as Chief Executive Noodle really understands the importance of fresh product and flavours from South East Asia. So much so he imports all Wok on Inn spices from each of their respective Asian countries of origin and boy do can you tell the difference; my wife who’s Thai mentioned how much the Pad Thai tasted just like she would get back home. For me, I don’t order Pad Thai in Sydney as I’ve always found it difficult to find a restaurant that can replicate the flavours you’d get back in Thailand…..until now!
Wok on Inn Menu Tonight Is
– Spicy Chicken Dumpling
– Pad Thai
– Bangkok Noodles
– Cashew Nut Chicken Noodles
– Prawn Laksa
– Singapore Noodles
– Nasi Goreng
– Uncle’s Drunken Noodles
First up was the Spicy Chicken Dumpling which was a little deceptive as I didn’t think it was spicy at all and sought out the spice, which besides the chilli garnishing just wasn’t there. The flavours though were an outright winner and surprisingly the best I’ve had yet with very tender ground chicken filling and a light and fluffy noodle outer. I would definitely go back if just for the dumplings themselves……I was lucky to get two but still felt it wasn’t enough 🙂
Next up was Pad Thai……helloooooooo, I’ve missed you so much! Served in a little bamboo sheet boat, plenty of perfectly cooked stir fried rice noodles which happily were not soggy by being drowned in sauce like most restaurants in Sydney seem to do. There was just the right amount of tender chicken and eagerly eaten were the tiger prawns that gave just the right crunch along with the bean sprouts & crushed peanuts.
As I mentioned earlier it seems to be such a challenge finding a good Pad Thai in Sydney Restaurants these days which is surprising considering it’s the staple dish for foreigners to order in a Thai restaurant. Unfortunately I’ve found way too many restaurants pack their Pad Thai with onions as they’re cheaper compared to bean sprouts…..which funnily enough isn’t even in traditional Pad Thai. Needless to say the flavours and presentation of this dish really stood out and I’m sure we weren’t the only satisfied recipients of this dish.
Bangkok Noodles were quickly upon us while we were politely scoffing down the remainder of our Pad Thai; we were warned they were quite hot and not far off…..as I could feel a bit of spice. My wife didn’t notice the spice but that’s not a huge shock as she includes a hand-full of chilli’s in pretty much anything she eats!
The spiciness of the Bangkok Noodles I’d say was just right for me however it was overly sweet which seem notorious for most western iterations of Asian cuisine. We unfortunately lowered our chopsticks and surrendered on this one due to the sweetness….overall flavours though were very nice and I’d order again asking them to not include sugar next time round.
My favourite Asian meal as a child was the staple Australian-Chinese dish Chicken and Cashew Nuts and I truly felt like I was a kid again getting all excited for this one to come. I don’t eat Chinese food very much these days as it’s predominantly Thai in our household and also because my wife isn’t overly fond of it as she’s found it to be very oily.
Man did this one smash it out of the ball park with flavours and the perfect balance of sweetness, which ended up being top dish of the night for my wife. By this time we were really starting to get quite full and a much needed timeout was had……but not for long as the staff were upon us again with a light and small tasting of their Prawn Laksa.
I’m always one for prawns no matter how they’re cooked, prepared, served or eaten…..put them in front of me and I’ll devour them by the kilogram. I’m also quite keen on a seafood Laksa however in this case I’ll have to admit that the Prawn Laksa was over powered with curry which had it been dialed back a little would have been very nice. It wasn’t hot in any way, just too much curry for my and my wife’s liking. This one I’ll order again another time to see if it’s consistently prepared that way or if it was a one-off.
With that being said, they were small shots of Laksa and most probably the reason why it had such a back whack of curry flavour to it.
Singapore Noodles were up next however it seems they were scarce so we didn’t get the opportunity to try them; to be honest with you, it was probably a good thing as we weren’t sure we’d even be able to get through all the sampling we still had ahead of us. The guests opposite us seemed to enjoy theirs although it was mentioned to us that they hadn’t been cleaned and bearded well enough.
Nasi Goreng was not at all what I was expecting and was definitely the most savoury of the evening. I feel the rice was overcooked and too wet for my liking and should have had some larger pieces of meat to break it up from being a large glob of rice. With that being said, I’ve never really tried many versions of Nasi Goreng when dinning out and I wouldn’t be well educated in Indonesian cuisine. My thoughts…..it was ok but nothing I’d order again, a couple decent pieces of beef or chicken and some fresh vegetables could change that around quite easily.
The finale of the evening was now here and being a huge fan of the Thai dish, Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) I was keen to see what kind of spin Chief Executive Noodle, Ankur Sehgal, would put on this favourite Uncle’s Drunken Noodles. Absolutely hands-down WINNER here and didn’t think the previous dishes could be beaten, especially considering I was so full that I thought nothing would now taste good. Thank You stomach Gods for giving me the power to get through such a great night of spices and food, the dishes were much bigger than expected for sampling.
Consensus from other guests near us was they all loved the food and would be back, my only feeling was that it could have finished off with something sweet…..maybe some tapioca pudding or mango and sticky rice which is something you’d expect while in SE Asia. Not sure I would have even entertained the thought of eating it being so full; we’ll save that to try out their other locations in Balmain, Darlinghurst and Norwest.
Photos by Trent Carpenter
Disclaimer: Food Assault attended as a guest of Wok on Inn. Opinions are Food Assault’s own.