Therefore, I’m not going to try to convince you that the new (it opened in February) Wok Chi, located in the Shops at Wiregrass mall, is the best Chinese food I’ve ever tasted or that it’s authentic New York style, even though this hip, young five-location chain now has two stores in the Big Apple (as well as the original, year-old location in Brandon).
What Wok Chi is, however, is delicious, fresh and with something of a Zen vibe, with philosophical (pink) fortune cookies, free tea (because it is good for your “chi” or life force, also spelled “qi”), according to the signs on the walls in this fast, casual, healthy concept eatery.
The primary focus at Wok Chi is that you get to customize your meal the way you want it. “Our wok masters craft the meal you choose from scratch,” boasts the “About” section at WokChi.com. And, it’s true. Plus, if you’re a wok-sautéed veggie lover like I am, Wok Chi is truly paradise.
Whether you choose the regular- (starting at just $8.45 for skinless chicken breast, up to $10.95 for the regular-size shrimp) or large-size ($15.95-$20.95) stir-fry, you get to choose your meat (there’s also pork loin, flank steak, organic firm tofu and veggie-only options), up to three of the amazing selection of veggies (see below), as well as anything from plain white rice to fried brown rice, quinoa, egg or wheat noodles and even kale beds for your “base,” plus your favorite of Wok Chi’s nice variety of sauces (all without artificial ingredients or MSG, which another sign on the restaurant’s wall says, “disrupts our chi”).
My favorite sauces are the spicy Szechwan and Kung Pao (the latter has peanuts), but there are several other sauces, ranging from sweet & sour and black bean to sesame ginger and “General-Not-So-Tso’s” sauces, so you can pick your own favorites.
But, the veggies are what really sold me on Wok Chi and, while they’re not all what you’d call “traditional” Chinese vegetables (for example, no Napa cabbage or water chestnuts), you can choose from zucchini, squash, green beans, snow pea pods, onions, bell peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, kale and baby bok choy. Best of all, Wok Chi does add different veggies seasonally — for example, sugar snap peas were available on my most recent visit.
And, these veggies are so green and beautiful and they sautée up so perfectly in the hands of Wok Chi’s wok masters (like Wiregrass location general manager Jeremy Vazquez, pictured at this year’s Taste of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel, which was held at Florida Hospital Center Ice only a month or so after Wok Chi opened here, on the next page) that once you find the sauce that suits you best, you’ll be hooked, too.
Note-I’ve mentioned many times in these pages that I have a major shellfish allergy, especially to shrimp, so I was a little concerned about the fact that Wok Chi’s chefs sautée shrimp in the same woks with the other ingredients, which can be enough for me to get my reaction without even eating any shrimp. Since the day this location opened, however, all I’ve ever had to do was mention that fact to Jeremy or whoever was cooking my food, so they always start with a thoroughly clean wok to do everything they can to prevent such contaminations. And, eight or nine visits later, I’ve yet to have my reaction to anything I’ve ever eaten at Work Chi.
What About Dim Sum?
Considering that the woks are the stars of the show at Wok Chi, I am happy to tell you that I also love the dim sum (appetizers). My favorites are the chicken spring rolls (I’ve yet to try the duck confit spring rolls, but they sound awesome), the spicy pork & chive and chicken & chipotle pot sticker dumplings (served with an excellent sweet chile sauce) and especially, the Chi-licious pork spare ribs. They usually come with the black bean sauce, but try ‘em Gary’s way — with the spicy Szechwan sauce — and you’ll thank me.
And, if you’re up for something a little different, try the non-traditional pork sliders. I forgot to ask what the “bread” portion of the sliders is made out of (it looks a little like a soft taco shell, but it’s different), but the pork is very tasty, as is the unique, creamy sauce served on top of the sliders.
Also popular at Wok Chi, although I’ve yet to try them, are three varieties of summer rolls, — large-burrito-sized rolls that are filled with lump (real) crab, shrimp or avocado and basil. I’ve also yet to try the hot & sour soup, although it looks very good, too.
Wok Chi also features not only one of those magical Coca-Cola “freestyle” soda fountains filled with every possible soft drink flavor you can imagine mixed together, but also the aforementioned free, hot tea, with two different (and rotating) flavors always available. I’ve enjoyed the pineapple-coconut, mint basil and even jasmine green tea to date and look forward to trying other flavors soon. Other organic teas are available for sale, but taste the free stuff first.
I’m even impressed with Wok Chi’s new honey cruller dessert and creamy vanilla ice cream, a true bargain at just $1.
Wok Chi also has a Loyalty Club, so you (and I) can earn rewards points every time you dine there. Wok Chi also offers delivery of your food through GrubHub, Mobile Meals and Uber Eats.
Fast, fun and delicious make for a really nice combination at Wok Chi!
Wok Chi of Wesley Chapel is located at 28152 Paseo Dr., in the Shops at Wiregrass. Or, visit 2420 W. Brandon Blvd. in the Regency Square shopping center in Brandon. For info, call (813) 862-2315 or visit WokChi.com.