This restaurant is striving to make Chinese food great again. Wokworks is a laid-back noodle shop celebrating the ancient art of wok cooking. They source the freshest ingredients from local vendors and strive for “wok hei” which occurs when a wok chef masters the technique of creating a complex smoky flavor while simultaneously retaining the natural crunch of fresh, in-season ingredients.
The inspiration behind Wokworks started when owner, Brennan Foxman was studying abroad in Amsterdam. He feel in love with a fast, causal restaurant based around wok cooking and sought to bring this concept to the US. In November 2013, he opened Wokworks in Rittenhouse. He was a Economics graduate from Tulane University without any formal culinary training, but a passion for great food and motivation to make his dream a reality. Wokworks can be easily found by 19th and Chestnut by its bright purple awning over the doorway and lime green outside seating.
Inside Wokworks has a modern and fun atmosphere with bright colors and lots of seating perfect for BYOB. The menu is constantly changing and features dishes inspired by Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. Portions are served as short or tall. Customers can choose a House Favorite or create their own dishes for a wok dish or rice bowl.
A custom dish starts with one base of brown basmati, white jasmine rice, lo mein, soba noodles, stir fry noodles, rice noodles, and even quinoa for $1 more. Next you choose your protein where options include skillet-grilled chicken, crispy fried chicken, crispy tofu, steak, pork, or shrimp for $1 more. For short order you’ll choose 1 veggie and tall orders get 3. Seasonal vegetables include broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts and jalapenos, sweet peppers and mushrooms, green beans, snow peas, and kale. Finish it off with some signature sauces like green curry, five-spice BBQ, General Tso’s, teriyaki, peanut, oyster, sesame ginger and more.
Wokworks also has a variety of House Favorite combinations you can choose from like General Cheng’s and Bam Bam Steak which are very popular. General Cheng’s is a play on General Tso’s made with fried organic chicken thighs. The Green Goddess is great for the more health conscious and gluten-free using organic quinoa, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green curry with your choice of protein. The menu has so much variety it is easily able to customize for any diet including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher, paleo, and more.
The classical technique of wok cooking used at Wokworks dates back thousands of years! It utilizes incredibly high heats to sear in nutrients and amazing flavors from freshly picked ingredients. They also use very little oil when cooking which means this is some of the healthiest Chinese food you can get.
I started off with the Hibiscus Lemonade which was as bright and colorful as the restaurant while also refreshing and perfect on a warm day. The Housemade Noodle Chips with mango duck sauce are a great starter for anyone who loves Chinese food. Dumplings are offered either steamed or crispy with pork, spinach, or edamame filling. I loved the crispy pork the best which surprised me because I usually opt for steamed dumplings to be a bit healthy.
For my main course I had to try a House Favorite. Especially because Wokworks offers so much heat on their menu. 70% of the menu has got spice, but you can ask for less if you can’t handle it. The majority of the loyal customers at Wokworks come in for the heat. When they say spicy, they mean it. I tried the Bam Bam Steak with pan-fried noodles, local bok choy, broccoli, snow peas, and bacon (hey why not?!). The spicy oyster sauce gave this dish a nice kick. On the side I tried the Jalapeno Brussels Sprouts which were awesome as well, with nice big chunks of jalapeno peppers mixed in.
Check out other new menu items like the Spring Roll that utilizes hydroponic greens grown specifically for Wokworks. Many hydroponic greens are used throughout the menu since they are organic grown in water with LED lights powered by solar power.
Whether you dine in or take out, be sure to end your meal with the Chocolate-Dipped Fortune Cookies. Online ordering is available as well as delivery via Postmates and Caviar. Catering options available as well. Be on the lookout for possible breakfast items to start at Wokworks as well as more locations to come around the city!
Try something new and stop by Wokworks, you won’t regret it. Ask about trying my favorite secret menu item, the Fried Chicken Bao Bun!