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Wok a Toque, T Nagar

Over a year in Chennai, and I still had not found anything to fill the void left by the venerable Lings Pavilion. Lings, as we fondly called it, is my favorite Chinese restaurant Mumbai. Given the bustling food scene in Bombay and how ubiquitous Chinese restaurants are, that is indeed a commendation.

Getting back to my search for a Lings-a-like in Chennai, Anna Nagar is quite well endowed with Chinese eateries - Wangs Kitchen, Cascade, the erstwhile Dynasty (now shut), Kim Ling - all within walking distance of each other. I have tried them all. Future posts will cover them in detail, but my rant against all of them is this - None of them do my favorite proteins, beef and pork as well as Lings. The best of the lot, Cascade and Dynasty do a good job with perfectly beer-friendly beef, but neither serve pork. Kim Ling does a decent job with it's Pork Spare Ribs, but its still not top notch.

Some digging up on Zomato for top Chinese cuisine in town and I came across Wok a Toque. Good reviews along with the presence of both swine and bovine on the menu were reason enough for me to add this place to my wishlist. There it remained for a while, T nagar was bang in the middle of the city and always crowded - somehow, it evaded me for months.

The opportunity finally arose when I had to go to T Nagar for getting my Plantronics Backbeat Go 2 serviced. I navigated my way through heavy traffic to reach the Chariot Hotel. Thanks to the Valet, parking wasn't a hassle. The ambience was rather dark, only lit up by the ruby red lamps hanging above. The place was deserted, but for me and a couple of other diners.

The menu at paronomastically named Woq a Toque was nice and tight, focusing only on a handful dishes in each course. I asked for a Shredded Beef Steamroll and a Double Cooked Roast Pork. The wait staff soon bought out the customary Kimchi and dipping sauces. Kimchi was just sweetened slices of cucumber and carrot in a soup bowl. The accompanying sauces were interesting though. Besides the usual soya, sweet chilly and red chilly was a mustard dip with a strong kick and an umami rich peanut sauce. I quite like the peanut sauce and nearly polished it off by the end of the meal.

Swine Heaven
Ten minutes later the I was joined at the table by the Double Cooked Roast Pork. The portion was fairly generous and the thinly sliced roast pork had the right mix of fat and meat. The meat was juicy and tender - a sign that it was the pork wasn't overcooked, as it often is in Chennai . The sliced meat was enrobed in a somewhat bland soy based sauce, I tried dunking the pork in the assortment of sauces, and the juicy pork was delicious with everything!

Double Cooked Roast Pork
Beef Cheon Fun
The Shredded Beef Steamroll (Cheong Fun) took a while to get to my table, but was completely worth the wait. At first, it looked like a cross between a Dimsum and a Spring Roll. The waiter laid two plumpy rolls on my plate, brimming with shredded beef and drizzled some broth on top. I bit in and Bam! This was spectacular! The encasing skin was smooth and thin, just like in a perfect dimsum and the minced beef, oozing with that meaty broth melted in my mouth. The rolls really reveled in the beefy flavors. This has to be one of the top bovine eats I have had anywhere!

Shredded Beef Steamrolls
Happily stuffed, I was about to ask for the bill when I recollected the interesting desserts I spotted on the menu earlier. I skimmed the menu again and asked for their Lychee Ferrero.

Lychee letdown
Five spheres of chocolate drizzled with nuts, encasing a hollowed lychee which cocooned a scoop of vanilla ice cream - phew! If that doesn't make you salivate, I don't know what will!

Lychee Ferreros
Sadly, the description was let down by poor quality of ingredients in the execution. The chocolate was low quality compound chocolate - I could feel the layer of vegetable fat on my palate, an indicator that this wasn't high quality cooking chocolate whose cocoa butter simply melts in your mouth. The Vanilla ice cream was likely scooped from a store-bought ice cream brick. But what really let the dish down were the canned Lychees - unquestionably no match for the juicy seasonal fruit. Pity, this could have been a real killer dessert with some Barry Callebaut, Vanilla bean ice cream and fresh Lychees - perhaps something for me to work on this summer!

All in all, a satisfying meal and at about 1000 bucks, not too expensive either. These guys did walk the talk.

Note: Unless otherwise mentioned, all means are paid by myself.

PS: The Beef steamroll is acutally called Cheong Fun. Big thanks to Reshmi Dasgupta ( @ReshmiDG on Twitter) for the info

Update: I was gutted to learn that Woq a Toque has now shut down :(

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