|Green Wok, Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: 11137 SW Capitol Hwy Portland, OR 97219 503-246-1683|
|Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-9m, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm,
Buffet lunch M-F
|Times Visited: 5|
Step inside of Green Wok, and it’s easy to believe you’re in countless other, identical Chinese restaurants around the US. The fond memory of predictable take out boxes and broccoli in brown sauce returns as you’re seated. The small restaurant is decorated with framed, traditional Chinese art prints, and I noticed the addition of cute kids’ drawings on my latest visit.
At Green Wok, there are no worries of chicken broth and worrisome questioning, as it’s all vegetarian. It’s entirely vegan outside of the crab rangoons. They added the option of Tofutti Cream cheese several months ago, but still have a dairy option available, to my understanding. Regardless of that exception, for those around SW Portland with a penchant for vegan Chinese food, congrats!
Odds are, you’ve been to the Vegetarian House downtown, and are wondering, what’s the difference? Why should I go to Green Wok on SW Capital Highway? After multiple visits, the bottom line is clear: the ingredients are fresher, the setting is that familiar Chinese restaurant (sorry, no gigantic Supreme Master TV), and the food packs so much more flavor. The weekday lunch buffet, which is announced full of suspense on their twitter, is simply put, supreme.
If you can make it on a weekday, you must try this vegan lunch buffet ($6.50/person). I’ve gone twice, and both times I’ve left satisfied and pissed off that it’s not available downtown. There are multiple hot items, including small and chewy soy chunks in a spicy Kung Pao sauce with dried chilis, standard Lo Mein noodles with vegetables, very tasty fried tofu squares and various vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce, ever more lightly sautéed vegetables, fried rice with tiny vegetables, and more, featuring rotations and new items. There is a daily soup, crispy wontons, hot spring rolls, tempura vegetables, and a few dipping sauces, available on the side table in reused Sriracha bottles. Buffets dishes are regularly refilled across the board, as opposed to slowly withering down. I tend to pass on the noodles, and opt for the humble fried rice with bits of carrot and peas. The tempura batter is light and noticeably non-traditional, but who’s going to complain about a tray of tempura asparagus? My other pass belongs to a daily hot and sour soup. It was underwhelmingly sour, but the rest of the lunch was awesome enough to make it a thing of the past. The daily soup changes anyway. Following their twitter, it usually appears to be broth-based with tofu. Overall, the variety and actual full-flavored sauces on their buffet are so enticing! Further enticement includes $2 off entrees during their lunch hours of 11am-2:30pm.
Outside of lunchtime, the entrée prices are pretty standard. They run from $6.95 to $13.95 for stir fried vegetables, noodles, fried chunks of bean curd, faux chicken, beef, pork, fish, and shrimp analogue selections. Their menu has the battered and sautéed meals you’re looking for, or have yet to consider. There’s deep fried Vegetarian Fish in Hot Bean Sauce, Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Pork, Twice Cooked Vegetarian Beef, Bean Curd Pockets with Napa Cabbage, and the popular Orange Chicken with real orange peels, to name a few intriguing choices. Pass on dishes in the chef’s white sauce, it’s sadly bland and does nothing for vegetables. Go with the tangy tomato instead, like in the very-well-cooked Broccoli in House Tangy Sauce ($8.95). You want to get your vegetables alongside a soy and gluten party! The entrees aren’t huge, and many do not come with an ample vegetable side.
I’ve sampled many dishes, and anything with crispy or sautéed, textured bean curd strips remains my go to order. Sesame Chicken ($10.95), in its battered, sweet sauced, sesame sprinkled glory, is hard to pass up, but the discovery of trying and sharing new dishes at Green Wok is harder to pass up. I’ve learned that Kung Pao Tofu($8.95) with peanuts, is literally soft tofu cubes, peanuts, in a generous, mildly spicy brown sauce. I was semi into it, but others were not. I have a big soft spot for well, soft tofu, but I can see the lack of textures putting people off. I don’t plan on ordering it again, but the restaurant remains an entertaining place to discover favorites – like the fairly spicy General Tso’s Chicken ($10.95), or the impressive, crispy Bean Curd Pockets with Greens ($13.95). The price tag is on the higher side, so go during lunch time for a chance of something similar on the buffet, or get more for your money, and taste buds, by sharing with friends. As for service, Green Wok’s staff is welcoming, prompt, and check mark – knowledgeable.
You know that one friend with a car? Gather a few friends, venture SW and dine family style at Green Wok. If you’re with a big group, I’d advise calling ahead to give them some time to put together a big table. As for bus-sing, it’s easy. Green Wok is right on the #44 (ring the bell as soon as you see the pho restaurant!) and a reasonable walk from the #12.
Test if you’re really a faux chicken fanatic, as opposed to a faux beef, or a sincere bean curd lover. If you like vegan Chinese food, there’s surely something that will win you over!
Bean Curd and Cabbage
Bean Curd and Vegetables
Tofu Hot Pot
General Tso’s Chicken
Kung Pao Tofu
Broccoli in Tangy Sauce
Mixed Vegetables and Tofu