Hunan Wok Restaurant
12541 116th Ave NE
Kirkland WA 98034
High on Value, Low on Ambiance
By: Steve G
“We the Chinese conquered the world through our food.”
In the U.S., Chinese food is as fervently popular if not more than traditional American food. While people will commonly group Chinese food into one homogeneous group, there are distinct regional styles that vary depending on what part of China. The four main styles are: Cantonese, Szechuan, Peking, and Eastern China. Hunan food is very similar to Szechuan with their abundant use of chili. But where the Szechuan pay more emphasis on the taste, Hunan also put great detail on the presentation as well. Hunan Wok in Kirkland is a little known spot that aims to deliver that style of cooking and while it may not have the greatest ambiance, the portions are huge and prices very small.
From the exterior, Hunan Wok looks like a prototypical Chinese restaurant. Inside, the restaurant seems a little too spacious and while the booths are fairly clean, they also seem a little outdated. The staff was friendly enough and had us seating within moments. As stated before, Hunan food is similar to Szechuan but the spices are more potent and the presentation is cleaner.
We were looking for more offbeat dishes that we would not find at the other Chinese restaurants and critique on how well they prepared them. We ordered the Egg Foo Yung, House Special Chow Mein and Lake Ling-Tin Shrimp which apparently a Hunan Wok specialty.
The Egg Foo Yung was the first dish that came out. We were amazed at the sheer size of the food as it was huge. Very similar to a large Egg Omelette, the dish came with vegetables and shrimp mixed into the egg before it is fried. On first bite, the Egg Foo Yung was not overly fried or oily and quickly crumbled after hitting your lips. A light brown sauce was splashed on top of it and tasted somewhat like soy sauce. One of the reviewers commented that the ingredients were great, but it did taste a bit bland.
The House Special Chow Mein was not the cream of the crop, but the was decent. Mixed with chopped pieces of chicken and vegetables and thick noodles, it tasted more akin to something like Yakisoba than Chow Mein. Now there was nothing that was necessarily wrong with the dish but seemed too plain and standard.
By far, the best dish was the Lake Ling-Tin Shrimp. It was a served on a large plate with large pieces of shrimp in a sauce that consisted of egg whites, wine and mushrooms. The end result is creamy sauce that is delectable and paired up with broccoli that makes a great match.
The cheap prices for dinner as well as the lunch specials are the best bets for a great deal. If you can tolerate a lack on the ambiance, Hunan Wok delivers on the portions that are big enough to offset the shortcomings on quality and taste.