In the past year or so, a brand new community has popped up in Zetland and has brought some fantastic shops and restaurants with it. Wok On Inn is one of these great new spots that’s recently opened in the East Village and with it’s wide selection of food, vibrant interior and highly affordable menu, it should be on any south Sydney dwellers radar.
As we stepped inside, the staff all gave us some toothy grins and shouted ‘hello!’ which to some would be cheesy but it made us feel like we were locals, popping by our favourite pit stop. The hospitality and friendly nature of the staff really did remind me of some of the eateries I have been to in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. It was really lovely to see that Wok On Inn had been inspired by more than just the food of Asia.
The menu is just what you would expect from a street food style eatery – short and sweet. Despite the small menu, there’s still a fantastic representation of eight Asian cuisines (because everyone does their noodles differently!) So, while you can find standard Asian dishes such as Pad Thai and Wonton Soup, there’s also the chance to try something completely new.
Our favourites by far were Uncle’s Drunken Noodles and the Singaporean Street Noodles, two generous mains. Although it has a pretty spicy kick, the Drunken Noodles were bursting with flavour (probably thanks to the authentic Thai chilli paste and seared basil used in the dish!). The Singapore Street Noodles were also quite spicy but, for someone who likes things a bit mild, weren’t too tongue tingling. Again, the amazing blend of spices – turmeric, ginger and garlic – made for a tasty dish that reminded me of street food I’ve had during my travels.
To continue with the spice, we also ordered a side of homemade spicy chicken dumplings, served in deep soup spoons and drizzled in a soya sauce. These were a perfect snacking size (gone in one mouthful of course!) and complemented our other food really nicely. I find that you can normally judge an Asian eatery on their dumplings and the Wok On Inn ones definitely passed the test!
While we were enjoying our meal (with the odd Bintang and Asahi), we saw plenty of people pop by to pick up food or step in to order some. The Zetland store does have enough seating for about 30-40 people but with so many apartments full of young professionals nearby, it’s no wonder that more than half the orders are taken home instead. Despite the popularity of the restaurants take-away option, a lot of thought and time was obviously given to the interior. In a true ‘street food’ manner, the tables and chairs were mismatched in shape, size and colour while overhead, there were strings of fairy lights, which helped to create a bit of ambience for the diners.
Considering the fact that Wok On Inn is a reasonably small take-away and dine-in chain, I was thoroughly impressed with the food, service and atmosphere of the place. While ‘themed’ or gimmicky-style restaurants can be quite tacky and feel like a cheap imitation, I feel that Wok On Inn has avoided this. Sure, it’s not a 5-star restaurant, but the food is good and honest and it’s great value for what you get.