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Tuesday 18 October 2011

Wok N Roll Restaurant Edmonton, AB - great Chinese food and easy on the wallet

Rating Food 8.5/10, Service 9/10
We were hankering for some Chinese food with relatives in town (and in tow), we head down to the east side of the city to try a place some of our Asian friends have recommended. On the outside, the garish yellow signs proclaiming they provide take out services is reminiscent of a by gone era, and the decor is definetely not pretentious, with well worn flooring, tables and chairs.    However, we've learned to never judge a restaurant by its decor, and the unmistakeable scent of yummy food hits your nose as soon as you enter. Service is efficient, and the kitchen is superhuman in speed - within 10min, dishes for our large table started streaming out, and within 20min, everything was served. And the price was just unbelievably inexpensive! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

the FOOD
Scanning through the extensive menu, we ask the waitress about the chinese "set meals" - located in the menu only in Chinese (the waitress will translate), we went with a large set meal for eight guests, for $108. We initially thought we read it wrong as typically, set meals are cheaper, but they usually run double the pricetag at other restaurants. The waitress told us the price was correct, and we could pick almost any eight items from the menu for the eight dishes. The selection was extensive - for example, for the sizzling hot pot, there was over 20 varieties to choose from. Since I forgot to look up the English translations, I've roughly translated them from Chinese. Anyways, on to the fooood!

Cold appetizer platter with Chinese BBQ duck
First out was the cold appetizer platter. The duck was reheated by taking a quick dip in the deep fryer with the warm duck contrasting nicely against the cool marinated jellyfish it was resting on. While the BBQ duck need a bit of work as it was a bit on the dry side, the jellyfish "elastic bands" as I used to call them when me and my cousins were younger, was excellent. The jelly fish is light, springy, tangy from its soy sauce, sesame oil and chili dressing. The jellyfish strips had a light hit of chilis - just enough to give a slight bit of heat, without being being overwhelming. Mmmm.

Sizzling basa fillets, fried tofu and ham hot pot
This little number came out piping hot, releasing a cloud of aromatic steam when the waitress removed the lid. Served in a hot hot pot, the contents continued to sizzle and remain warm for most of the meal. Basa fillets and fried fluffy tofu cubes along with strips of ham are sauteed in a wok with plenty of garlic and ginger before being finished with a light sauce and diced green onions. Homey and satisfying... nom!

Stir fried gai lan with beef
Next up was some veges to help keep us regular. Gai lan is similar in flavor to swish chard, though texturally, it is cooked until it is a tender crisp. This version is stir fried with plenty of diced garlic and seasoned slices of beef. It was a bit on the oily side (hey, we are eating Chinese food out), but the gai lan was cooked to a crunchy tender crisp, and the beef added in some savory depth to this simple dish.

Steamed chicken with ginger and green onions
This chicken dish was a hit at our table. The chicken was gently steamed to perfection before being topped with ginger, green onions and a ginger infused oil, all sitting in a pool of sweetened soy sauce.  The chicken was melt in your mouth tender, and accented lightly with ginger and green onion goodness!  This is a must try!!!

Black bean sauced steamed tofu stuffed with basa fillets
To get our daily dose of those healthy omega-3's, we dig into this tofu stuffed with fish dish. The tofu isn't really stuffed with fish (its just called that)... basa fillets are placed on top of medium soft tofu, steamed to a rich silkiness, and topped with a salty blackbean sauce loaded with garlic and green onions that ties everything together.

Maggi sauce marinated shrimp
Ok, I know, the translation is rough, but Maggi sauce is one of the marinade components of this dish. The shrimp is marinated, lightly coated in seasoned flour, and deep fried until the shells are super crunchy crisp, and the savory tender crisp shrimp inside... man, you just cannot get enough of these babies.  If you're the type that loves shrimp balls.... well, say goodbye and forget about those awful super thick batter encrusted mushy things... sink your teeth into these indulgent and almost credit card sized shrimp.  Nommy nomnom!

Salt and pepper ribs
I usually avoid ribs at any Asian place, as they are usually greasy, primarily bone and coated in neon colored sauce. However, Wok N Roll was a pleasant surprise. Though the ribs were coated in a light crispy batter, meaty and moist on the inside. Despite the deceptively simple seasoning of just plain salt and pepper... they were surprisingly flavorful, and packed a punch of flavor.

Stir fried green beans with minced pork
Last but not least was our other vege dish.  Often under or overcooked, this Chinese green bean dish is tricky to execute.  The green beans were blanched and stir fried to a crunchy tender crisp with oodles of garlic, diced salty savory dried shrimp, and a hit of chili peppers. The minced pork took most of its salt from the dried shrimp, and was added in a generous amount, lending a mellow savoriness to the dish.  I'd like to try it next time without the meat, as usually, the green beans with all that garlic and a small hit of chilis can stand well on its own.

Overall, a surprisingly great place for Chinese food for a ridiculously great deal. So call up your friends, grab the kids for tasty Chinese fare in an unpretentious place that won't require you to raid Mr. piggy bank.

Wok N Roll Restaurant
12730 82 Street Northwest, Edmonton, AB
Phone 780-478-9797
Hours noon-11pm daily
Wok N Roll on Urbanspoon


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