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BEACH GOURMET: Wacky Wok: A Clean Little Secret:

At the junction of Abbot Kinney and Washington Boulevards in Venice there sits a small corner mall that is something of an international gastronomic pit stop, with Indian, Italian (pizza), Japanese, and Chinese purveyors all offering quick, if not fast, food choices for dine in or to go. The Chinese choice amongst these is the cartoonishly named Wacky Wok, and I am glad that I was given the heads up on this cute little gem this past weekend. Myself and a guest paid a visit to Wacky Wok to sample their dishes, have a chat, and relax in this somewhat unpublicized Asian café.

The décor at Wacky Wok is crisp, clean, and unfettered by obtrusive adornments, save some delicate prints and a flat screen television that was tuned to one of the major networks, and subsequently gave us the dubious entertainment of the occasional international burger chain and sub sandwich franchise commercials that was quite the curious experience as we tucked into traditional Chinese cuisine.

Service at this “all hands on deck” family-owned restaurant (since 1985, according to Yumei, the delightful owner) was warm and respectful, with dishes and drinks being delivered by whomever was available.

The menu at Wacky Wok is of the usual triple figure variety, albeit based upon variations on half a dozen or so sauce themes, and includes such staples as Kung Pau Chicken ($9.95), Sweet and Sour Chicken ($9.95), Beef with Bell Peppers ($10.95), Shrimp in Lobster Sauce ($12.95), and that ever popular bowl of vegetable serenity, Buddha’s Feast ($9.50).

My guest, Dale, ever mindful of adding a millimeter to her already miniscule waistline, opted for a special request of steamed chicken with broccoli ($9.95) with a side of Kung Pau sauce ($1.00), whilst I chose the Curry Chicken ($9.95), both dishes served inclusive of steamed rice.

We began the proceedings, however, by sharing a listing from the Soups and Salads section of the menu, namely the Peanut Sauce Cold Noodle Salad ($5.75).

This was quite the delight indeed. Fresh noodles, cucumber, and slithers of shredded carrot in a subtle peanut dressing, it was FRESH, light, and delicious, stirring the palate to life perfectly and preparing us for the main courses that were to follow.

The arrivals of the main dishes were accompanied by soft aromas, and were delightfully presented, exuding color and freshness, both servings being generous and hot.

The Steamed Chicken with Broccoli was steamed chicken with broccoli, and the accompanying Kung Pau Sauce an essential condiment that allowed us to swirl the tender pieces of chicken and crisp broccoli with varying degrees of spice and heat.

The Curry Chicken, ordered spicy, was more than satisfying, with a light sauce, chunky pieces of chicken and assorted vegetables all combining to put a culinary grin on this diner’s face, without the melange being overly heavy.

Wacky Wok is a good little cafe in which to enjoy traditional Chinese food in a comfortable environment, and certainly proved to be a pleasant surprise. I am glad that, at least for myself and my guest, this little secret has been discovered, and with their quick service and tasty traditional recipes, Wacky Wok will certainly be a port of call for future lunches or convenient early evening casual dinners.

2805 Abbot Kinney Boulevard #F. 310.822.7174.

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