Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sizzling Wok

I had been having a lot of different people recommend Sizzling Wok to me for different reasons, and I was in the mood to give Pho another go, and someone had just told me that the Pho here was good, so we were off. 
First of all, I hadn’t been to the West side for quite awhile and we got stuck in some killer traffic at 38th and Lafayette Road because of construction. I am not sure when it is supposed to be done, but if you are looking for a fast lunch, you may want to take this fact into consideration.
We finally made it and sat down to try and figure out what to order.  I had read that the Vietnamese pancake was good, and it sounded good to me, so we ordered that as a starter.  This thing is huge and full of lots of stuff, so honestly, it would be a very filling lunch on its own.  It was a very light eggy pancake/crepe type thing that was filled with sliced of tender and flavorful pork as well as a few small shrimps and lots of sautéed bean sprouts.  The pieces of pork were not tough but had nice crisp seared edges. The shrimp were also tasty.  The sprouts gave a nice crunch.  The whole thing was served on top of large Romaine lettuce leaves which our server informed us you were supposed to rip off and fill with the crepe (as well as some fresh basil leaves on the side) and then dip the whole bite into a sweet chile sauce.  Hubby was complaining that we had obviously ordered too much, but as it turned out, not only was this pancake really good, it was also the best thing we ate that day, so we were glad we had order it.
I ordered the rare beef Pho.  They did a good job with the beef—they obviously just dropped raw beef slices into the broth to keep it from overcooking. The strips of beef were quite tender; they just lacked much flavor, which is the overall problem I have with Pho.  This broth had some richness to it, and got a little more spicy and flavorful after I immediately added all the fresh peppers served alongside as well as most of the basil.  But honestly, I still just can’t get that excited about Pho.  It is hard to eat (all those noodles and all the broth—spoon or chopsticks? You can’t get both at the same time).  I think I would rather have some flavorful noodles fried with some veggies and eat my soup separately.  I just haven’t met a Pho that has changed my opinion on this issue yet.  This is probably the best one I have had, but compared with the pancake, it was boring.
Hubby had a lunch special from the Chinese side of the menu (they have a Vietnamese side as well as a Chinese side).  He had his perennial favorite, General Tso’s chicken.  He also got a cup of hot and sour soup with it and a spring roll and fried rice (included as part of the lunch deal).  The soup was not particularly hot or sour, and was quite eggy.  There was a bit of pepper in it, but not the real peppery and sour flavor that a good hot and sour soup has.  It was ok, but again, a little bland.
As for the chicken, he hated it.  I think the word he used was “horrible.”  The sauce was really gloopy and sweet and according to him tasted like it was straight out of a bottle.  He literally ate one or two pieces and didn’t touch the rest.  The fried rice was basically “brown with peas in it.”  (Again, hubby’s words). He described it as flavorless.   He gave up and just finished off the pancake.
So while we started out well, and I would totally get the pancake again if I ever went back (questionable), I would stay away from the Chinese side of the menu and try and stick with the Vietnamese side. Based on our limited experience, it seems a bit more finessed.  But as my fortune cookie said that day, “It is proper to speak the truth.”  So there you go.  The truth is, other than the first course, which I really liked, it wasn’t that good.
Sizzling Wok
4351 Lafayette Road
Indy  46254

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  1. I agree that their Chinese menu just isn't thier specialty. I love their Rice Noodle Combination. It's a very light and delicious noodle dish with some really flavorful beef strips and a sliced eggroll-ish item on top.

  2. I hate yet to find a Vietnamese place that I like better than Saigon Restaurant. I've tried a couple and I still think they are the best.

  3. If you are in the area again, drive up Lafayette a little bit more and try King Wok it is across from Lafayette Mall. The combo fried rice (#75?) and the hot and sour soup is excellent. THe best i had in Indy. THe only other location that serves fried rice and soup of this caliber is CHina Town in Chicago. I am sure you will enjoy the soup most of all as it is like no other in Indy.

  4. We went to a little Korean place in Fishers last night called Seoul Food. It was the first time I had Korean so I can't compare it to anywhere else but the service itself was enough reason to go back. Super friendly waitress who was willing to explain the menu to us and give suggestions for newcomers. The owner/chef even came out a couple of times to check on us too. I avoided some of the spicier things but what I tried, I liked a lot.

  5. Sarah, Joe and Carrie- thanks for the tips.

    Joshua, so far, I agree with you...

  6. Oops, I got the name wrong. It's called Cafe Korea. There is a sign on the window that say's Seoul Food.

  7. I believe the pho has been recommended at both Saigon and King Wok before. I don't know why this place was recommended to you.

    Try having the spoon in your left hand and the chopsticks in your right hand (or vice versa if you are left-handed). Haven't you ever done this before with soupy noodle dishes?

    (Hmm, when you eat with fork and knife do you do it with fork in left - always - and knife in right - always - or do you use the 'American' way of fork-in-left+knife-in-right to cut, then putting the knife down and transferring the fork to the right?)(To me [I'm right-handed] the fork-in-left-always [European style] is the proper way and what I do naturally)

  8. I'm just curious, are there any soupy noodle dishes of any cuisine that you like?

  9. BTW General Tso's Chicken / General Tsao & variations thereof is not real Chinese food, wherever you may get it from.

  10. I happened up on this and thought that "alright one of my faves has been "found"" but alas you wne to the WRONG place. Their is another Sizzling Wok at 71st and Michigan. Vietnamese and no ties to the one on Lafayette Road ( I asked onece). The restaurant on Michigan has the best Goi rolls and hot and sour soup that I've had in town. The minced pork noodle- yum. I could go on. THere is nothing fancy about this place - I think it must survive on pickup orders but the food is wonderful. Please try this Sizzling wok. I would hate for anyone to associate it with poor reviews of another place.
    just a resident from Clermont

  11. Like huiray said: spoon in left, chopsticks in right. It's the way people all over the world eat noodle soups like pho, and when done right, allows you get the right combination of soup and noodles that appeals to your personal tastes into your mouth.

    How I do it:

    First, gather up some noodles with your chopsticks (right hand). You want enough for one mouthful.

    Lift the noodles out of the bowl, support the dangling ends with your spoon (left hand). This will not only make the noodles easier to hold on to but will also help prevent a big splash and ruined clothes if you happen to drop the noodles.

    Lower the spoon into the bowl and fill it with soup.

    Finally, in one motion, eat the noodles that are being held with your chopsticks and drink the soup from the spoon.

    I know other people have their own method, but this works for me. It takes while to get the hang of, but it's fast and efficient once you get used to it.

    Why not fried noodles with soup on the side? Well, I'm sure you can probably get that at many places if you order it.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but noodle soups like pho appeal to me because they are relatively healthy (fried noodles soak up a lot of oil), they keep the temperature of everything nice and hot (soup retains heat, while fried noodles have a ton of surface area and will get cold), and they look really beautiful (the simple contrast of white noodles against a dark soup).

    If you think it's bland, pho (at least the versions available in Indianapolis) might not be the noodle soup for you. You might want to try bun bo hue next time you go to a Vietnamese place. It has a more heavily seasoned broth in my experience.

  12. thanks for all the comments, and to answer the question asked by a couple of you, yes, I eat my Pho with the chopsticks in the right and spoon in the left. I still find it difficult to get a decent amount of the broth on those little spoons along with the noodles. But maybe I am just too high maintenance.

    Huiray, I tend to disagree about a "proper" way to eat with knife and fork, although I agree that Europeans tend to eat differently from Americans, on the whole. Maybe one of my problems is I am a food lingerer and I do not like to eat quickly, hence, I do like to set my silverware (or chopsticks) down a lot. I don't know, just thinking out loud. And hey, maybe that is not the efficient way to eat Pho, so maybe that is one of my problems.

    And I have had a couple of recommendations for the other Sizzling Wok and I am adding it to the list. And both people have talked about how great the hot and sour soup is. So are these places completely unrelated? Anyone know?

    Carrie- Cafe Korea is on the list and actually a place I have been itching to go lately. Hope to go soon.

  13. I don't know about the rest of you, but I eat with my mouth.

  14. I thought both Sizzling Woks were related, although I have never seen any employees from one at the other. I do agree that the Michigan/71st location has better food. I used to work close by, about 4 years ago. My coworkers and I would go several times a month.

    A picture of our favorite meal, the aforementioned noodles.

  15. I have to say this is the most confusing review I've read of yours yet. You don't like Pho, yet you go and eat the Pho. You enjoyed the pancake, but only had two bites of the tso's?

    A few thoughts:
    1) Make sure and mention the cost. While one wouldn't mistake Sizzling Wok for gourmet, it's home-cooked original food for about $7/plate.
    2) You lived in SF for years but don't know how to eat Pho? Just use chopsticks, drink the broth from the bowl in between grabbing noodles.
    3) Every Chinese place in town serves the *exact* same premade frozen breaded general tso's, SW's is the only place I've seen that does their own breading with fresh chicken. Maybe it's not your (or your husband's) "think", but to dismiss it as "horrible" is honestly not doing it justice.
    4) Last time me and a friend were in the restaurant, an older couple asked us if we had ever been there. It sparked a 20 minute mealtime conversation where they confided to us that they drive 45 minutes across town to visit at least once a month.

    So, once again, maybe the restaurant just isn't your thing or something. However, to leave a review that paints the establishment in almost a completely negative light seems to say more about you than it does about the restaurant.

    Having traveled to 38 of the 50 states in this nation, and being a foodie, I would heartily recommend this place as some of the best fast/cheap Chinese/Vietnamese food in the city.

  16. I'm Vietnamese and I know my Pho, if you want good Pho in Indianapolis try Egg Roll #1 on Emerson.