Fast-casual Asian restaurant on Boulder’s West Pearl
For months, I’ve peered into the long-dark space on West Pearl Street that once held a series a wine-oriented enterprises, starting with the Blending Cellar and ending with the World Café. Slowly, a new food-service establishment was taking shape, and slowly it was revealed as a fast-casual restaurant. Eventually, the Asian theme became clear when the sign WOK EAT materialized.
Because we are hosting a Christmas Eve dinner, my husband and I went for a quick bite yesterday evening. Only one table was occupied. One mother and her young teen offspring were at the counter, looking at the menu board displaying mix-and-match dishes, discussing what to order with each other and with the guy behind the counter, and after a lo-o-o-o-ong while, ordering. We’d had plenty of time to decide, so we picked one order of dumplings, two stir-fries and wine.
There are nine pre-selected stir-fry combinations and customized ones. The stir-fries all contain Napa cabbage, julienned carrots, zucchini and bean sprouts plus four components: base (choice of four kinds of noodles, three kinds of rice), protein (beef, pork chicken, shrimp, tofu), add-ins (choice of two from a list of nine veggies) and sauce (choice of seven). This being Boulder, every component is coded as to whether it is gluten-free (most are) or vegan.
And then we waited and waited and waited for our food in the non-busy restaurant. While we were waiting two more people came in and then left without ordering. Our food came cutely served in boxes inspired by those standard wire-handled white cardboard take-out containers. Cute. The food reminded me of Tokyo Joe’s pulled noodles,” but to me, not only the noodles but the rest of the components weren’t very different from Tokyo Joe’s.
The food is well-priced, but the wine was a shocker. A very small pour — 3 or 4 ounces perhaps — of an undistinguished wine was served in sizable wineglass. The price was $7. Now that’s reasonable in a fine-dining restaurant or sleek bar, but for a fast-casual place it seemed to be too much for too little. When the food was delivered, I mentioned my disappointment. After the manger was consulted, more wine was added to my glass. Wok Eat is very charitable and very cool-looking but an empty restaurant with slow service and over-priced wine doesn’t measure up the pretty high bar set by downtown Boulder restaurants.
Price check: “Boxes,” $7.99 for adults and kids’ boxes, $3.99; sides, $2.49 and $2.99; salads, $6.99.
Urbanspoon has not yet discovered Wok Eat. It is at 946 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303-444-4085.