Why put a wok in a box? That is the thought that intrigues me as I enter the spic and spartan premises of WokaBox, a restaurant that has opened less than a month ago at Supermart 1. “The idea is to let foodies experiment, and discover new untried combinations and tastes,” explains its young owner Ambar Arora.
Ambar tells me that WokaBox straddles diverse cuisines—Asian, Italian and Indian. He also informs me that there is a three-step approach to placing one’s order. I am to choose the base first—from among pasta, noodles, rice, pizza and maggi! Second, I have to choose from a huge list of sauces from across Asia, India and Italy. Last, I need to choose my toppings—vegetarian, exotic veggie and non-vegetarian. And, voila, a new dish is born!
Easy-peasy? Not really, I discover, as I set about creating my own combos. After much humming and hawing, and some choice fatigue, I finally decide on a few mainstream dishes with one out-of-the-box combo.
It takes a while before my food starts arriving. The lamb spring rolls (Rs. 180) are very crisp and very tasty – making it worth the wait. The Udon noodles with black bean sauce and fish (Rs. 310) are professionally done, and topped with a soft yet crispy basa fish. The Spaghetti Bolognaise (Rs. 180) is light and peppery, with al dente pasta and a chunky sauce; what makes it stop short of being wow is a dryish sauce.
As I sit waiting for my experimental dish, which is thin crust pizza with Thai green curry sauce and chicken satay (Rs. 170), I wonder how Marco Polo must have felt back home in Venice, after his travels to the far-east. With all the spices and herbs he brought back, he too would have tried a version of what I am about to have. Why didn’t it become popular, I speculate? The pizza that I am served answers my question—the crust has been baked just right, with the right amount of cheese, and the chicken satays are done well too – but the green curry just does not sit well with mozzarella cheese. Alas, some cuisines will not mix well with others.
WokaBox is an exciting concept. Considering the restaurant has got its food almost right (I can’t blame them for my pizza experiment) in the first month of operations, means the food is likely to continue to be great here. The service levels need to improve. And maybe diners should be suggested some interesting and unorthodox combinations, to keep them from getting bogged down by the plethora of choices – or making mistakes like I did. But, all said and eaten, it’s definitely worth a visit.