Pan Asian cuisine menus are massive. From sushi to maki to wok-tossed to noodles, Wok‘N Fire represents cuisine from Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, and Japan.
A massive Buddha statue towers over the host station, the scale alone suggesting our arrival at a place of cultural import. We had two options for seating.
The lounge features a well-lit bar backed by several flat screen televisions and a series of highboy tables. It feels cool and modern with a cycling neon highlight emanating from various light fixtures slowly shifting the tone in the room from red to pink to purple to blue to green. A giant, oversized abacus serves dual purpose as cool statuary as well as separating the space from the dining room on the other side.
The dining room plays at a more traditional space. High-backed booths have Chinese paper lanterns hanging above them. Two rows of massive lanterns styled to resemble Asian temple bells called bonshō hang over the center of the room. A tall sushi counter at the back wall has four clocks behind it displaying the time in Mumbai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. A 12-foot-long dragon statue is hung on the wall cycling through the same dramatic colors as the lounge.
We started our evening with one of the newer arrivals to the appetizers menu, the Korean BBQ Steak Sliders, petite, char grilled strips of steak lathered with a lightly spicy Korean barbecue sauce and paired with a thick slice of onion for a kimchi tang. It’s all served on little toasted Hawaiian buns. The filets are delicious and every piece adds the perfect accent flavor for a tasty, spicy starter. It’s accompanied by a tangle of crunchy puffed rice and ramen noodles with diced red pepper and scallions treated with a fruity Asian vinaigrette.
From there, we wanted to try a little bit of every corner of Wok‘N Fire’s mammoth menu.
We began with the J Roll from their Specialty Maki Rolls menu. It’s a lovely presentation—crab, tempura flakes, and shrimp tempura rolled in nori and your choice of rice, topped with spicy tuna, jalapeno, avocado, wasabi mayonnaise, and unagi sauce. We each had a different flavor that really cut through everything, either the crab or the shrimp—especially the end pieces, from which tempura shrimp tails protrude. Both flavors pair really nicely with the single slice of jalapeno—present for flavor rather than heat—that rides each segment of roll and the creamy wasabi mayo and molasses flavor in the unagi. It’s less spicy than expected, unless you really lean into the accompanying scoop of wasabi. As a final visual touch, the roll is lined up across two bamboo leaves drizzled in the sauces.
Given their moniker, we had to try one of their Wok-Tossed Dishes, so we went for the Szechwan and added steak. The stir-fry maintained the freshness of the vegetables and the bean sprouts, carrots, pea pods, and bamboo strips were all still very crisp. The shitake mushrooms and broccoli really soaked up the flavorful sauce, of which there was plenty and was responsible for making it the spiciest dish of the night. The steak played against the spice beautifully and added just the right amount of chew to the proceedings, although I can also see this going beautifully with the tofu or scallops.
When we asked our waitress about her favorite thing on the menu, she pointed us to the Macadamia Crusted Chicken, pan-seared, panko and macadamia nut-crusted chicken breasts with a side of wok-tossed vegetables. The chicken is tender and juicy with an outstanding crunchy, nutty exterior. The flavor is wonderful on it’s own and even better when dipped in the side of shiro cream sauce that adds an almost caramel-like flavor.
Our favorite dish of the night, though, came from the Noodle Dishes section of the menu. Thai Curry Noodles are a hearty helping of thin Cantonese noodles with green beans, bamboo shoots, red peppers, and basil in red curry sauce. The flavors of the sauce are deep and rich, with the peanut undercurrent that’s so characteristic of panang curry. We added chicken as the protein and it was the perfect pairing for the savory, spicy curry sauce.
For dessert, we wanted to lighten things up. The Mango Cheesecake is made up of three textures, the pudding-like texture of the mango topping, the dense richness of the cheesecake, and the syrupy sweet passion fruit sauces. It’s especially fruity with cubes of mango to complement the cake. There’s a lot of brightness and lightness to the dish, making it an excellent finale to a delicious dinner.
Wok‘N Fire is located at 590 Village Center Drive in the Burr Ridge Village Center, 630-323-5100, woknfire.com.