BANGKOK — Sticky-sweet stir kung pao chicken is one of the breakout hits from Bangkok’s latest American-Chinese takeout place, Wok Star Express.
Most dishes at Wok Star Express, a takeout service that opened June 17 in Silom, make it a worthy contender in Bangkok’s budding American-Chinese food scene.
When asked if the dishes cater to expat tongues familiar to American-Chinese food or Thai tongues, founder Kirk Stucker said, “Hopefully we can cover all bases: Thais who have travelled overseas, local Thais, farangs who live here.”
“That’s why we offered Szechuan chili sauce on the side. We were worried it wasn’t spicy enough, but I know not everyone likes spicy.”
Of the nine dishes we tried, one of our favorites was the Kung Pao Chicken (220 baht), a sticky, sweet, dark chicken stir fry, where the chewy dried chilis kept us coming back to this box again and again.
Also addictive was the Lemon Chicken (200 baht), battered and deep fried chicken served with lemon slices and with a sour-sweet, bright yellow sauce on the side, to prevent it from becoming drenched or soggy during delivery.
At this point, we realized many dishes would have a sweet undercurrent. The Mongolian Beef (270 baht) had bouncy pieces of tenderloin with mushrooms and translucent onions in a sweet oyster and soy sauce.
The Sesame Prawn Toast (140 baht for four pieces) was a pleasant surprise: each bite of sesame-crusted toast revealed a packed topping of prawn.
Those who need even more sweetness (here we took a quick water break) may enjoy the bell pepper and pineapple-filled Sweet & Sour Hong Kong Style Pork (190 baht).
Acting as a foils to the flavor-heavy mains were the Singapore Noodles (240 baht), stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, and the Yangzhou Fried Rice (160 baht for a single size, 200 baht for family size), filled with moo daeng (barbecue pork) and peas.
By now, we understood that the general taste of Wok Star was like the palatable-to-all Westernized Chinese food, the kind found at high end hotels’ international buffets. Anything not spicy enough, we lathered on the Szechuan sauce.
The largest letdowns compared to the other dishes were the BBQ Red Pork Chow Mein (200 baht), where the thick doughy noodles reminded us of the most unhappy kind of food court yakisoba, and the Sticky Honey Sesame Ribs (220 baht), which were bland and covered with a floury gravy similar to lard naa, but much too sweet.
Still, they were anomalies in what was otherwise an impressive selection.
All dishes except for the Sesame Prawn Toast were delivered in paper takeout boxes that held in all the sauces even over a long delivery distance. Stucker said all the sauces are made in-house, and no meats are frozen. Prices already include 7 percent VAT and there is no service charge.
For the last 22 years, Kirk, 43 has lived in Thailand, mostly running bars and restaurants in Samui – until the coronavirus struck.
“COVID made the islands not a good place to be. There were no tours at all,” he said. “So we came here June 1st, hired staff and trained them and opened June 17th. It’s been an interesting month and a half.”
If their branch at Pan Road in Silom pans out, Wok Star Express are eyeing a second location in Phra Khanong.
On their pamphlet, all dish names are accompanied by song titles from Elvis, Queen, the Beatles, and so on, befitting the “Wok Star” theme.
Stucker said his co-founders are musicians, but “I just get up and dance, shout, scream.”
Wok Star Express is open for delivery from 12:30pm to 9:30pm every day except Tuesday, with plans to extend their hours from 11am to 10pm by the end of August. Order via Line Man, their Facebook page, or their Line account.
This review is unsponsored and based on a hosted delivery.