Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wok - Bogota, Colombia

Veg Options

Wok was the first restaurant I dined at during my first visit to Bogota. Along with Crepes & Waffles, Wok is a massive presence in Bogota for a vegetarian. Like C&W, Wok is also a successful chain restaurant though not quite on the same scale. It menu has a distinct asian tilt - from soups to sushi to noodles.

When I first saw the menu - and this was my first visit to Colombia - my eyes popped out. The "menu" really looks like a magazine. It has about 20 pages. Once I laid my eyes on the "green pages" - featuring ONLY vegetarian dishes, whole pages of them - I was sold on Wok. This was going to be a frequent stop for me - and so it has been.

I usually start off with any of their page full of fantastic fresh fruit juice options - my favorites being Verde Vital (Green Apple, Pear, Baby Spinach), Purple Haze (Beets, Carrots, Apple), Mango Lassi (they have lassi!!!), Chocolate/Banana/Dates, Mango/Banana/Maracuya and the usual suspects - Guanabana and Copuazu milkshakes. During a typical meal, I'd have had 2-3 drinks. This can be followed by some great starters - though I always don't go for them to keep from stuffing myself completely. In addition to the reliable spring rolls, Wok has these delicious Tofu dumplings that I most recently discovered - Yasai Chili Gyoza. These are lightly fried dumplings stuffed with minced tofu and served with a Chili oil. I highly recommend these.

Wok has about six vegetarian soup options - miso, carrot, tom ka, tom yam and miso ramen. Both the miso and carrot soups are excellent and quite filling. I typically make a meal out of the carrot soup - which is well seasoned, thick and creamy. Be advised that the carrot soup has a strong coconut flavor - which can be off-putting to some.

I haven't yet started to cover the main course and I'm tired already. The choice at Wok is quite incredible. Among the maincourses are a staggering 13 options for noodles, fried rice and stir-fries. These include thai red/green/yellow curries, pad thai, indonesian/cambodian stir fry dishes and other variants of thai curries/noodles. In addition to these, Wok features "Raw Cuisine" - dishes cooked at temperatures not exceeding 43C. I personally enjoyed both the red and green curries prepared in this style. This new-age technique for cooking veggies is supposed to preserve the nutrients much better.

If you happen to be in the mood for sushi - you'll be thrilled. You have a staggering SIX vegetarian sushi choices - some of which come wrapped in soy paper if you happen to be put off by the sea weed roll. My favorites are the Veggie Roll (featuring mango, asparagus, cream cheese, avocado and sesame seeds) and Yasi Tempura roll (featuring tempura vegetables). The others - Shitake, tofu, kapa maki and salad rolls are equally good.

If these dizzing array of choices isn't enough, the dessert menu is still more impressive. In several visits, I've been so sated with the drinks and main courses/appetizers that I've rarely had dessert. Given my reputation, that borders on being considered shockingly absurd. Still, among the ones I've tasted, the banana tempura and "raw" banana&berry tarts were outstanding.

All said and done, this review only scratches the surface. I'd have to review each section of the menu in detail to truly describe the wonderful experience that is Wok. It is quite intriguing how the owners manage to run this restaurant with a menu as extensive as this - and the quality has never suffered in all my visits. I crave for a day when a restaurant chain like Wok or Crepes&Waffles will appear in the US.


  1. Hi! I come from and live in Bgotá, Im happy to read such a nice review about one of my favorite restaurants, thanks!
    Additionally, Wok have what could be considered a fair trade policy with their ingredients, purchasing many of them directly from the producers, like fishermen in the Chocó region, (one of the most abandoned regions in my country that really need help like that).

  2. Awesome food a bit expensive for the locals thou, but still great asian food for a colombian culture, the sushi is the best your mouth will drool.... :)