Green Wok

Green Wok, Brief Review
Overall Service Food Quality Atmosphere Vegan Options
8.5 9 8.5 8 10
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

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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!

Lunch Buffet

Sesame Chicken

Green Wok: Visit 2

Bean Curd and Cabbage

Green Wok: Visit 2

Bean Curd and Vegetables

MooShu Vegetables

Pan-fried Dumplings

Tofu Hot Pot

Green Wok: Visit 2

Bird’s Nest

General Tso’s Chicken

Kung Pao Tofu

Orange Chicken

Broccoli in Tangy Sauce

Green Wok: Visit 2

Mixed Vegetables and Tofu

Green Wok: Visit 2

Exterior

Green Wok

Green Wok on Urbanspoon

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14 responses to “Green Wok

  1. I was wondering if you would get around to this place. They told me the Rangoon were all vegan, oops, now i am not so sure. Also the fortune cookies are not vegan. Makes me a bit concerned, but their food is excellent, that is for certain. Lunch buffet is a bargain.

  2. I’ve been told that the fortune cookies are vegan, just in non-vegan wrappers. Strange, yet, hopefully true! I tend not to eat fortune cookies anyway.

    It would be great if the rangoons were all vegan now!

  3. their “chicken” is the shiznit!!! i need to get there soon and try their vegan rangoons, i used to love those things back in the day and haven’t come across vegan ones as of yet.

  4. The only thing better than looking at all of your delectable photos of vegan food is seeing the “All You Can Eat” sign at the end.

  5. Hey, this is Clarence (manager of Green Wok), just wanted to let you know that the crab rangoons are all vegan now (no more dairy), and because the fortune cookie wrappers were causing a lot of confusion and doubt, we’ve gone with a different company that has the proper wrappers for the fortune cookies we order.

  6. I am really surprised to hear this positive review and see your photos. I went to Green Wok with a group a few months ago and was really disappointed. The dishes all tasted (and looked) the same, and I don’t think anything at our table had fresh vegetables. One dish looked like it was made with a standard frozen veggie mix from the grocery store. We were all really disappointed. Your photos look like most of the dishes have lots of veggies. I don’t know what happened when we were there! I went with an omni group and spent the whole time apologizing and explaining that vegan food can be really good and fresh.

    • That is so devastating, Rachel! I admit, this is not a place to go for fresh vegetables…As for sauces and dishes, I really did find it a big step up from the similar Chinese offerings in town from Veg House.

      I hope your omni group is out for another vegan adventure – at perhaps, Blossoming Lotus!

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  8. My partner and I went today after months of wanting to visit and we were sorely disappointed. Most of the food was overcooked and greasy and there was little flavor developed in any of the dishes on the lunch buffet. By far the best was the eggplant and seitan and the green beans with very little bits of seitan, but even these were overly oily and needed some more flavor to be truly delicious – even something like some freshly sauteed garlic and ginger would have given the food a lift. We live in North Portland and made a special trip to try this place; we unfortunately won’t be back.

  9. Pingback: Taking Advantage of Vegan Portland | Epicurious Vegan·

  10. Went there with our Groupon offer. It was delicious, we had the wonton soup, pork fried rice and 4 different sushi. Can’t wait to go back and try the buffet.

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