Come, Wok With Us

What is your culinary forecast for Riyadh this 2016? The burger phenomenon will likely continue, even though we have hundreds of burger brands and restaurants in this city already. I have been to a handful but it seems like they just keep on growing, er, opening more and more each month. So what about steaks? Old school yet so yummy still! Locally-produced vegetables and fruits? Yes, please! There are many juice stores in Riyadh and thank you for them. It’s all the healthy stuff I put in my system. And what about Asian food? Chinese restaurants have seen the highs and lows of this city and they’re still here, as flamboyant in their design and as sweet and sour as their dishes. Speaking of Asian food, have you seen the mushrooming of wok restaurants? Well maybe you haven’t because they tend to be small restaurants that have a few tables and chairs for dining in bachelors and take-outs for the rest of us, tuck in plazas of larger hypermarkets. Of course we’ve featured some of them namely Noodle Box, Quick Chow, and Mee So Hungry. But waittt, there are more!!!

Let’s take a wok, er, walk down this stir-fry lane…

1. Yummy Wok
So let’s begin with the the restaurant that started it all. Okay, technically speaking, we don’t know which among these wok places started it first but we know that Yummy Wok has been in the stir-fry scene as far as our memory serves us. It was established in July 2011 with a simple concept: to bring change in the food culture of Saudi Arabia. I remember their store tucked in the corner of Panda Takhasussi and how its glass walls enticed us to see what’s cooking inside. Alas, it was a men’s section only but we still ordered for takeout. Ordering is easy with just three simple steps: 1. Choose your kind of noodles or rice, 2. Choose your proteins (add extra ingredients if needed, or wanted) and 3. Choose your sauce. Yup, easy as 1, 2, 3! For the longest time, no other wok restaurant has knocked down Yummy Wok from the top of our list. We like the balance of their ingredients, the quality of their ingredients and somehow, the combination we pick always works. However, because we’ve had probably too many Yummy Woks over the past years, we feel that we can no longer eat them any time soon. We like their iconic orange logo, packaging and interiors though.

Considered as the one who started the wok invasion in Riyadh. Is it?

Considered as the one who started the wok invasion in Riyadh. Is it? (Photo from Wummy Wok’s website)

Branches: Takhasussi | Hitteen | Rabea | Qurtoba | Sweidi | Dabbab
Contact Nos: 920006167

Yummy Wok Menu
Budget around SR 25-30 per person

2. City Wok
We haven’t tried City Wok but we know we should! Among the other wok restaurants, we find their decor and design the most “Chinese” looking of the bunch. Their base and toppings are the usual noodles, rice and proteins of beef, chicken, and shrimps but they have more options for sauces like sweet and sour and garlic & black pepper. They also have a menu for appetizers which includes the well-loved Dynamite Prawns, Calamari, Indonesia Satay, and Spring Rolls. They also have mains and salads to choose from. So it’s a full-blown restaurant at City Wok and it would have been nice to eat dine-in at their sole branch in Al-Rakkah Plaza opposite King Saud University.

This looks scrumptious!

This looks scrumptious! (Photo from City Wok’s website)

Branch: Al Rakkah Plaza, Al Rayed District
Contact No.: +966-11-480-0906
Operating Hours: 12:00 noon to 2:00 AM
City Wok Menu
Budget around SR 30 per person

3. Wok N Flame
So we were on our way to Exit 5 a few years ago (yes, YEARS) and we were looking for something “new” to eat. That’s when we came upon Wok N Flame in Thumama Road. It’s orange and red designs will really remind you of fire so that’s a good one eh? Haha. Anyway, because it was years ago, all I can remember is that we enjoyed eating it with friends, especially the Hong Kong Beef and Tsunami Chicken (for spicy lovers out there). Oh, and they have duck! They have the usual 3-step ordering system but there are also ready to go meals for the undecided (like if you hate making your own mix). Their dishes are named after Asian cities which is cool (though where’s Manila?). Try their Bangkok Duck and Pattaya Shrimp.

Asian food is so much appetizing to look at and to eat.

Asian food is so much appetizing to look at and to eat. (Photo from Wok N Flame website)

Branch: Al-Rabea Plaza, Thumamah Street cor. Al Gatgat Street
Contact No.: +966-11-810-9444
Operating Hours: 1:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Budget around SR 30 per person

4. Wokkong
We just discovered Wokkong last week when we dropped by for a meeting at Camel Step Roasters and found ourselves hungry after that. We searched Foursquare for nearest restaurants that are new to us and for some reason, we gravitated towards it even though it wasn’t that near. It must have been the violet color haha. Anyway, we found Wokkong in the Tamimi Plaza near Al Nakheel Mall. It was a small store that’s lined with wooden tables and benches. I particularly like the logo. I’m not sure what Wokkong means but this seems to say it’s King. Yeah, like King Kong but this one’s using woks. Go figure. Anyway, I had the Chicken Noodles in Kong Special Sauce and Shrimp Fried Rice in Teriyaki Sauce. I also ordered their Dynamite Shrimps which Foursquare users were raving about. I found their Kong sauce salty and their teriyaki sauce okay. The Dynamite Shrimps wasn’t stellar so I’m not sure what the rave was all about.

Wow, love the color Wokkong!

Wow, love the color Wokkong! (Photo from the Wokkong IG)

Branches: Al Yasmeen Plaza, Anass Bin Malek Road | Al-Nuzha, Prince Muqren Bin Aldulaziz Road
Contact No.: 920003709
Budget around SR 30 per person

5. Spices Sprinkles
Alleluia! A wok restaurant with no “wok” in its name! Haha! But seriously, I’m not sure if it’s a play of Sugar Sprinkles. What do you think? Haha. The good thing about Spices Sprinkles is that they didn’t stop with the noodles. They went and extended their menu to accommodate pasta! So that doesn’t make them a full-time Asian restaurant  but we can still be assured of freshly-cooked food in a box. I find the names of their dishes boring; imagine just calling it “Chicken Pasta” or “Shrimp Fettuccini”. How original but who cares about the name if the food is good right? They also have a few selection of crepes for dessert and the usual Dynamite Shrimp. I want to try this soon.

Noodles and pasta can be found in SS boxes!

Noodles and pasta can be found in SS boxes! (Photo from Google)

Branches: Al Imam Bin Abdullah Bin Saud Bin Abdulaziz, Ash Shoda | Prince Moqran Bin Abdulaziz Road, Al Nuzha
Contact No.: 053-707-0199
Spices Sprinkles Menu
Budget around SR 25 per person

6. XY Noodles
Thank goodness XY Noodles did away with red in their interiors. Their yellow (or was it lime green?) and black colors make them different from the rest. We haven’t tried XY Noodles personally but XY Noodles received good reviews from those who already did. Their noodles include Xeiyi (Japanese udon), Too Y (Indonesian egg noodles), and Szechuan (chow mien with beef), Chi Chi (chow mien with chicken), Guillin (egg noodles with shrimps), and Singaporean. I love their round box in black and white. Looks oh so chic and modern! I haven’t tried their food yet because it’s far far away from where I’m located. But inshallah!

The contrast of a colorful food with its black& white round box.

The contrast of a colorful food with its black& white round box. (Photo from here.)

Branch: Al Imam Bin Abdullah Bin Saud Bin Abdulaziz Road, Al Hamra
XY Noodles Menu
Budget around SR 25 per person

7. Wok To Walk
If my research is right, Wok To Walk is the only franchise wok restaurant in our list. Most of the stir-fry kiosks that we featured above are conceptualized in Saudi Arabia. Wok to Walk started in Amsterdam inspired by South East Asian cuisines. The brand is 70-stores strong worldwide (wow!) and now, it’s here in Riyadh. If the same ingredients were brought to their store here, I’m seeing whole wheat and whole grain noodles! Interesting. Their sauces are named after Asian cities and their distinct flavor: Tokyo (teriyaki), Bangkok (yellow curry and coconut), Hong Kong (sweet and sour), Beijing (oyster), Saigon (garlic and black pepper), Shanghai (black bean and soybean), and Hot Asia (hot sauce). (Again, where’s Manila?! That should have been adobo flavored – soy, vinegar, sugar lol.) Their main color is orange which reminds us of… uhmn Yummy Wok. Haha!

Wok To Walk is an international franchise available in many parts of the globe.

Wok To Walk is a franchise available in many parts of the globe. (Phot0 from Wok to Walk’s website)

Branch: Khalid Bin Waleed Road, Qordobah
Budget around SR 25 per person

8. FireWok
FireWok has a pretty straightforward menu. Just three kinds of noodles: Japanese (thick), Chinese (thin), and Thai (wide). I’m pretty sure that their sauces are a bit the same like Wok To Walk because they also have even the yellow curry and coconut and the garlic and black pepper. They have sides though and the “potato chili dry” seems interesting along with the salt and pepper winglets, beef wanton and FW Oreo. Their interiors will remind you of fire! Surprise! Lol. But I have to hand it to them; they made a logo that speaks about their restaurant. Go see for yourself.

Branch: Al Yasmeen Tamimi Plaza, King Abdulaziz Road cor. Anas Bin Malik Road
FireWok Menu
Budget around SR 30 per person

9. Yumshi
What makes Yumshi different from other wok restaurants? Their Yumshi Kabsa Rice. It’s a genius creation! Putting kabsa in the options for fried rice. Coolio! Although I’m not sure what that would taste like. So I better visit Yumshi one of these days. There’s two choices for noodles: Pad Thai and Makka. They have mint sauce (mint!!!), yumshi flame sauce, sweet chili sauce and uh caramel sauce (I’m guessing this is for dessert?). Their Yum Tikki side dish piqued my curiosity but the Popcorn Shrimp was the one popular among Foursquare users.

Orange is a dominant theme in most wok restaurants. Oh and red.

Orange is a dominant theme in most wok restaurants. Oh and red. (Photo from Google)

Branch: Anas Bin Malik Road, Al Malka
Contact No.: +966-11-229 3309
Yumshi Menu
Budget around SR 25 per person

10. Wok Pasha
It’s an Asian restaurant but the mustache in Wok Pasha’s boxes and logo doesn’t remind me of Asia. I mean of course Asian men have mustaches but I’m pretty sure this is not it. Haha! or maybe, during the Spanish times in the Philippines which is quite a long time ago. Anyway, among the wok restaurants in our list, Wok Pasha’s has the simplest menu ever. Japanese or Chinese noodles? Beef, chicken, or shrimps? Wok Pasha sauce, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce? Yup, that’s it. So bare huh? I wonder if it’s such a short list because they want to concentrate on their products so much making it more tasty and flavorful? Hmnnnn. Oh wait, they have sandwiches ala Subway!

Branch: Al Manar, near Al Yamamah Hospital
Wok Pasha Menu
Budget around SR 20 per person

Most of the restaurants featured here do not deliver. Maybe because they promise freshly-cooked noodles or rice. If they wait for delivery and spend more time in the road then it won’t be as fresh when it lands on our doorstep. However, I am grateful for wok stations that deliver because if you notice, most of the restaurants are already far from the city center. Yes, they’re food to go but if it’s far and I still have to go the extra mile to visit the restaurant and try it, I guess that defeats the purpose. Just be on the lookout if you’re in the areas of these wok stations.

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