A new filling station on Deansgate opens for the very hungry. Jonathan Schofield is full, but unconvinced.
“No, it’s brilliant,” said an acquaintance. “I first discovered it in Amsterdam, and I’ve been to loads of them. The food is really tasty and filling.” He was right, Wok to Walk provides filling food, but as for tasty, the jury’s out. Blurry might be a better adjective.
It was hard to distinguish different elements by taste, only by spotting them
Not that many people seemed as concerned as me at the lack of character in the food. I went at lunchtime and the queue was round the block. I had to come back later because I’ve got to that ratty time of life which means I've given up queuing for ever, except at airports where it can’t be avoided. When I returned lunchtime was all over and the staff were puffing out their cheeks, breathing sighs of relief.
Then it turned out I had to do the work. This is the deal at Wok to Walk, you choose what food combinations you might desire and suffer the consequences if you mess up. So, it’s the base for £3.95, then a ‘favourite’ or three or four, in other words, meat and veg. This is followed by a choice of free sauces and for an extra 50p, a topping. Then you receive a ticket with a number on it and when your number is up you grab your boxed collation and scarper or stay inside on the benches.
On the first visit I went with egg noodles as the base, then chicken, broccoli and a pepper mix as the favourites with a Tokyo teriyaki sauce which added up to £9. For the second, I had jasmine rice, favourites of chicken katsu, spinach, shitake mushrooms and a garlic and black pepper sauce topped with fried garlic which came in at £9.55. So, while this is principally take-away food it isn’t cheap.
The first box I ate in the restaurant, the second I took back to the office and emptied on to a plate. Neither solution made the food an aesthetic occasion; on the plate it looked particularly lumpen. Still I was hungrier for the second dish so it did a job, although it was hard to distinguish different elements by taste, only by spotting them. The first dish had been a little more refined, but only a little more.
It was, all in all, on both occasions, bland bulk as far as I was concerned, which is surprising given the range of ingredients. Maybe I chose wrongly. A lemonade was ok.
For quick food though, fish and chips from Wrights on Cross Street is a far better option, or indeed the food in PKB coffee shop, or snacks from neighbour Lunya, both in the same building. An asset is the jolly orange décor which reflects the Dutch origins of Wok to Walk; the location in the handsome 1860s Barton Arcade behind plate glass is good too.
Would I go again? Only if I was really starving. And there was no queue. And only the Pret and the Subway in the same block were open.....
Wok to Walk, Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester
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All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Rice dish 5, noodle dish 5
There's not much service required aside from a smile
Just the noise of people moving in and out