It's that time of year again... the Chinese New Year! This will be the tenth year I've hosted my annual Chinese New Year celebration at the Hot Wok; for 2014, we commence year of the Horse!
For those of you familiar with it, I need say no more. For those of you not, then it can be summed up very simply: The best Chinese food in St Louis, maybe in the entire midwest!
Cuisine - I know what you're thinking... is it really all that good? Let me answer simply: Yes! Old favorites that you've had everywhere will simply be better here. For example, Sesame Chicken is not the breaded and fried chunks found elsewhere; it's shredded white meat in a light sweet sauce. Sweet and Sour Pork is available here made from tenderloin. The Honey Walnut Prawns here are just the best available anywhere, period. Even the Hot and Sour Soup here is the best I've ever tasted. But more than that, you'll find some dishes here you may have never seen before. My own favorite is the Manchurian Beef, which is marinated beef strips, fried, then sauteed in a sweet sauce the likes of which you've never imagined! Or their sesame beef... thin sliced strips of flank steak in the best sesame sauce you've ever tasted. And I've barely scratched the surface of the menu. Beef, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetables, rice... they have the entire gamut. And every one of them are simply superb.
Price - Hot Wok isn't the cheapest place around, but it's not expensive, either... pretty much right about average. The main dishes start from under $10, average around $12 or so, and top out around $17 for a couple of the fanciest dishes, usually seafood. In my book, though, their prices are great for such awesome food!
Other Info - Hot Wok is remarkably tricky to find. In order to give one simple set of directions, just follow these: Exit I-64 at Hwy 141 and go SOUTH; then exit Hwy 141 at the FIRST exit on the right, which is labeled Woods Mill Rd S Outer Forty Dr; bear hard right so that you have essentially made a complete U-turn and are now heading north on Woods Mill Rd; go to the first signal and turn left; go to the second driveway on the left and turn left into the parking lot; you're now looking straight at the restaurant, almost exactly in the center of the strip. Tons of parking.
I'm hosting this dinner with my other two meetup groups, but after the insanity of two years ago (100+ people), I'm splitting it over two nights. Unlike last year, however, I'm putting both nights on the calendar for each group. You are welcome to come both nights if you really want to, but please don't sign up for the same night with multiple groups; I'll remove duplicates, so don't freak out if that happens.
As with some of my other larger dinners, you should spread your arrival between 6:30 and 7:00. This will help to keep things moving smoothly as they won't be trying to take dozens of orders simultaneously! They are quite experienced with large groups, but still plan on enjoying socializing during and after dinner. And if you have been here before but not in the last few years, be prepared for a surprise as they completely remodeled their interior... it's beautiful!
Chinese food is meant to be shared, and with all the awesome choices here, I hope everyone will do so (although you're not obligated to, of course). Naturally they will do separate checks, but remember the rule is that if you order it, it'll be on your check.
I'll be looking forward to seeing all my foodie friends at the Hot Wok on Wednesday, February 5th, for my 10th annual Chinese New Year dinner!
Hot Wok Cafe (http://www.hotwokcafestl.com/hotwok/Home.html)