Sarah Baltrop heads down the latest noodle bar to pop up in Cardiff, Wok & Go. But will it stand up agains it’s many competitors, or flop like a soggy bean sprout?
When ordering noodles, there are few things I love more than when they’re served up in authentic Chinese takeout boxes, the ones in Friends and 90s chick-flicks which always left us craving a good chow mien, and luckily, Wok and Go didn’t leave me disappointed on that front. Cardiff boasts more than a few noodle and rice bars, and with a new branch opening in November, I was intrigued to see what makes Wok & Go stand out from the rest. Sitting on the end of St Mary’s Street, on first impressions Wok & Go felt much like many of its competitors; minimalist furniture, with the centre piece being the freshly cooked food.
Looking at the menu there was a great range of options; from the typical ‘build your own’ box, to their own range of noodle and rice dishes. With many similar eateries only offering the ‘build you own box’, it was nice to have some guidance for the best flavour combinations. It’s easy to go wrong when choosing your own ingredients, and it can often unexpectedly end up being more expensive; without a second thought, you’ve added everything but the kitchen sink. After all, if anyone is going to know the flavours that go together best, it’s going to be the chefs that cook it day in, day out. The menu features all the classics such as sweet chilli and black bean sauce, but it was also nice to see a few more ambitious variations like the pad thai box and their own ‘hot box’ tossed in a special chilli sauce.
Not wanting to go for the standard Chinese take-out options, I decided that if a place could do a Thai curry well, it must be worth a second visit. The box itself had a range of choices: you could go for rice or noodles, chicken, beef or prawns, and dependent on how much spice you can brave, red or green curry paste.
I’m a firm believer that you eat, first and foremost, with your eyes, and after a short wait, I wasn’t sold at first glance. Luckily, tucking in the taste was much more satisfying with well balanced flavours and a little unexpected kick. There was a variety of vegetables adding a welcomed crunchy texture; a major bonus, when most places make you pay extra for more than a few limp bean spouts. This wasn’t a curry in the traditional sense, instead of a thick, soupy sauce, the Thai dressing was used sparingly to lightly flavour the dish, and it really worked.
So was Wok & Go worth the trip just for the take-out boxes? The food here was on par with any other noodle bar, but is being on par really enough when there are so many similar venues in the city? Had I an overwhelming craving for noodles, I wouldn’t feel an immense desire to make a beeline for this place over any other. However, one thing that could persuade me to head to Wok & Go is the price. Offering a 10% student discount and monthly deals too, you could save a couple pennies if you don’t mind walking a little further than the noodle bars that frequent Cathays. All in all, Wok & Go’s offerings are pretty tasty and good value, despite lacking a real stand out feature. You won’t regret it if you go, but I can’t say you will feel any loyalty towards the place either.