Before touching down on the dining-room tables, plates greet diners with the wafting aromas of authentic Chinese-style veggies, spices, and sauces. Equally adept at sautéing tofu, shredding pork, and crisping duck, the cooks can accessorize their entrees' savory flavors with spoonfuls of sweet 'n' sour plum sauce or fiery scoops of hot-chili paste, which burns as intensely as a bonfire full of matchbooks. For added doses of transpacific flavor, they can also stir in traditional Chinese ingredients such as water chestnuts and stir-fried string beans.
Since 1980, Golden Wok Restaurant's chefs have used zero-trans-fat vegetable oils while preparing spice-filled Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine. At dinner, the restaurant's tables fill with dishes of sizzling barbecue pork egg foo young, chow mein and lo mein, and Cantonese?style lobster tails.
Historic Downtown Wheaton embraces many of the boutique gift stores, chic spas, and diverse culinary offerings that populate the historical storefronts of the western suburb’s walkable central shopping district. Before embarking on a day of checking off gift lists or simply sightseeing, slip under the colorful awnings at Front and Hale Streets to sneak a breakfast bite at the Egg Harbor Café, where The Handler sandwich tucks egg, bacon, and cheese onto a gourmet pretzel roll ($8.95). Eco-friendly gift shop It’s Our Earth's “buy recycled” philosophy unfolds space for ample creativity in the form of Snack Journals ($7 each)—fun notebooks reimagined from SpongeBob and Spiderman snack boxes that make the dog eating one's homework a slightly likelier excuse.
Wok 'n Fire?named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living?tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
A native of Hong Kong, Chef Brian Eng masterminded a menu of healthy family recipes infused with fresh, handpicked ingredients and devoid of MSG. A smattering of starters, such as a duo of crispy egg rolls ($3.25) and hot-and-sour soup ($2.95–$4.75) prevent mouths from chugging a bottle of soy sauce. Made-to-order mains include the beef in a nest, sliced beef doused in onion-infused gravy nestled in a soft bed of Cantonese pan-fried noodles ($7.25–$10.75), and the empress chicken, a jewel-encrusted chicken frolicking with peppers and onions in a barbecue sweet-and-sour sauce ($7.00–$10.50). Diners can cast a net around the silver shrimp and scallops served on broccoli next to a pool of cream sauce ($10.45–$15.50). A quintet of almond cookies ($1.25) rounds out the meal more eloquently than a soliloquy from a bilingual Shakespeare impersonator.
Crisp peapods, plump cloves of garlic, and succulent chili peppers are just a few of the fresh ingredients filling Gong Ho's kitchen. Chefs fold the fresh produce and spices into a variety of Chinese favorites, from chicken almond ding dotted with onions, mushrooms, and crunchy water chestnuts, to fried rice studded with bean sprouts, green onion, and juicy morsels of barbecue pork. Steaming bowls of wonton soup also emerge from the kitchen, followed by juicy barbecue spare ribs or platters of moo shoo beef. Of course, to get the best taste of what the kitchen has to offer, diners won't want to overlook one of the restaurant's signature dishes, such as Treasures of the Sea—a mountain of rice topped with a bountiful assortment of lobster, shrimp, scallop, and Chinese vegetables––or the battered, deep-fried Phoenix chicken, which makes a great leftover since it mysteriously replenishes itself when re-warmed.