15 October 2013
1305 Seminole Trail (Rt. 29 North)
Lunch: Mon. - Sat. 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dinner: Mon. - Sat. 3 p.m. -11p.m.
Sunday dinner from noon – 10 p.m.
Many new restaurants have opened in the Charlottesville area and I have enjoyed quite a few. But there are some old standby’s that deserve a shout out and that is how I feel about the Flaming Wok.
The Flaming Wok can be found in an unassuming white building on the north side of Rt. 29 (just before the light on Branchlands Boulevard (where Toys R Us is located). There is ample parking in front and on the sides of the building. The interior is on the dark side with booth tables, a sushi bar, a regular bar and on the left side, six hibachi tables separated by art on large silk screens. Although you can order standard Chinese and Japanese food, as well as sushi, today’s review is going to focus on my favorite way to enjoy the Flaming Wok. I like to sit at a hibachi grill with a bunch of friends and watch the chefs put on a show for us and then place fresh, delicious and hot food on our plates.
Last month, eight of us sat around the grill and there was ample room for a few more. Most of us ordered Teppen Yaki, different items cooked on the hibachi grill in front of us. We were first served a hot bowl of broth. And then the chef began to flavor the grill with butter, oils, and several sauces as he entertained us with his knife and cooking skills and comic antics. I will not say more so that readers can enjoy their own interactions with their chefs. The main star was the food. In addition to broth, the Teppen Yaki included fried rice that tasted nutty and flavorful and a nice assortment of grilled vegetables including mushrooms, broccoli, onions and zucchini. The portion size was more than ample. We then had a choice of vegetable, chicken, shrimp, scallops, salmon or steak to complete our dish.
Dick ordered his Teppen Yaki with chicken for $8.25 and thought it was tender and flavorful. Steve, Patsy and Joan all ordered shrimp for $9.25. Although they all enjoyed the rice and vegetables, Steve thought the shrimp was a little overdone and tough. Margaret loved the salmon for $9.25 and thought it was a large portion and well cooked. I ordered the scallops for $9.50 and I really enjoyed the five large and sweet scallops that were grilled perfectly. Norman ordered filet mignon for $10.95 and he thought the steak and his entire meal was “more than delicious, it was scrumptious”.
Joe’s taste buds wanted to try something a little different so he ordered a box lunch for $6.95. The box refers to the wooden bento box that is separated into different sections and each section holds one type of food. The food presented in the box looked lovely when it was brought to him and the sections were filled with General Tao’s chicken, salmon sushi, white rice and an egg roll. He thought his selection was fresh and he would recommend it to others. As a matter of fact, Joe said he would have a hard time deciding what to order next time because he really liked the bento box but he thought everyone’s food looked so good and he also liked watching the chef handle the knife, fork and spatula as he prepared the Teppen Yaki on the grill.
We all agreed that the service was excellent and our chef was funny and charming, all while he handled fire, knives and food preparation over an intensely hot grill. I had the opportunity to talk with Jin Ho, the owner of Flaming Wok about the restaurant, the grills, and his experiences. Mr. Ho has lived in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. He has owned Chinese restaurants in Florida, Houston and New York. At first, he opened a restaurant on Cville’s corner, and then opened Flaming Wok 21 years ago. The hibachi grills were brought in ten years ago and chefs were trained to cook and perform.