Wok Inn

Tel: +44 (0)20 7388 0303
Address: 31 Camden High Street, Camden NW1 7JE
Cuisine Type: Chinese
nearest tube station Camden Town (NORTHERN)

To describe this as the Wagamama of the Chinese food world would be too generous, but neither is this a McDonald’s type operation. Squatting somewhere in between, Wok Inn dishes out plates of noodles and rice in big portions at low prices. It certainly has no pretensions to haute cuisine, and it is with this in mind that you can forgive the tacky decorations (patently fake birds in brightly coloured cages) and pictures of select dishes taped to the walls.

The basic concept here is rice or noodle based meals, ranging from £2.80 to £3.95, depending on the choice of topping. From the noodle menu, choose either egg noodles, ho fun (wide rice noodles) or vermicelli (thin rice noodles), all of which can either be soup based or stir fried. The plethora of toppings include tofu, mixed vegetables, won ton (minced pork wrapped in silky pastry), prawns, chicken, roast duck, roast pork (char siu) and beef. Of the seven or eight dishes we tried, big bowl noodles came out on top, particularly the sea food variety with prawns, squid, baby octopus, mussels and crab sticks – a higher topping to noodle ratio, and not as greasy.

I don’t think any of us finished our food, though this could be because we’d over-ordered the side dishes as starters. They were cheap, we were hungry and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Deep fried crab claws (£2.80) were starchy, suggesting more flour than crab meat. Spring rolls (£2.40) and prawn toast (£2.60) were average. Calamari (£2.80) in a black pepper and chilli seasoning was probably the best of the lot, with a crisp, tasty coating and not at all rubbery, and crispy duck pancakes were reasonably good value at £9.50 for half a duck.

Drinks are limited to soft drinks, watered down fruit juices, a few beers (Tsing Tao, Tiger, Bud and Becks) and house white or red (£7.95/bottle or £1.95/glass) and there are no desserts. Oh, and bring some cash, as they don’t take credit cards. A good stop-off point for a cheap re-fuel after a day’s shopping at Camden Market (though from the Tube, you’d be walking away from the market; plus there are plenty of places to eat in the Market itself), but hardly a destination in its own right.

– Tracy Yam, 8/2003