Fast Wok Restaurant - Pack'em In, Feed'em Fast with Fresh, Tasty Oriental Food
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
If you are looking for a quick lunch or dinner, with fresh, made-to-order food, then you'll probably be glad to know that Fast Wok Restaurant is open and operating in the Oka Plaza Annex adjacent to Pay-Less Supermarket. Since their November opening (when they took over Yummy Tummy and changed the name), owners Mindy and her chef/husband Jackie Li have been gradually increasing their customer numbers by serving quick, delicious, and fairly inexpensive meals, especially during lunch. Fast Wok's name is appropriate, as it seems that everything is cooked and served with speed as priority one. Fast Wok serves lunch daily with extended hours of 10:30am until 3pm and dinner six nights a week, Monday to Saturday from 5:30pm until 10pm. The daily lunch specials are really packing in crowds with a price that's hard to beat - $4.95! There may be lower priced lunch specials at other restaurants, however when you consider the portion size and quality of the meal such as the Fried Half Chicken which is regularly priced at $6.95, it is a great bargain.
Fast Wok's sign describes the restaurant as serving Vietnamese Oriental Cuisine, which leads one to believe that Vietnamese is probably their major emphasis. My observation the other day was that Cantonese Chinese was prevalent and that most of the diners were Chinese. When I first walked in for lunch, there was not an empty seat nor table in the house (they seat about 30 people at 8 different sized tables). It was around 12:30pm and there was a line of people ordering and picking up take-out (which you can get by calling 647-8989). I left and returned in about 25 minutes when things had cooled down a bit and I was able to get a table. I recognized my server, Mei, who is a veteran in Guam's restaurant business, having worked for years at the legendary Istimewa, then Shirley's (built in nearly the same 'Sleepy Lagoon' location where Istimewa once stood). She showed me the board that listed about 4 or 5 lunch specials for the day and asked for my order. I asked what the fresh vegetables were today, and she said they had Chinese Broccoli ($8), which is s special item not on the menu and subject to availability. I did order the Crispy Fried Chicken Special after seeing a pile of golden friend chicken at another table which Mei confirmed was one of the $4.95 Lunch Specials. I scanned the 35 item menu and decided to also try the Shrimp Fried Noodle dish ($6.95).
During the course of receiving my food, the lunch swarm cleared out, and by the time I had my second course (broccoli was first, then chicken), the place was almost empty (about 1:15). So, as a rule it may be best to arrive early, between 11am and noon, or go for a late lunch after 1pm, and you should have no problem getting seated. The Chinese Broccoli was marvelous, with thick green crisp stalks freshly sauteed with crunchy garlic slices, served in a oyster sauce blended with a wine base. It was a dish I could have eaten by itself all day long, with each bite imparting a vitality unique to the essence of fresh produce. I guess people would think me strange if they watched me eat, since I was marvelling at this beautiful dish, not just taking pictures, but savoring each mouthful and spooning up that lovely fragrant sauce. This is why I enjoy what I do, since I really appreciate food that's well-prepared, and the fresher, the better.
Chicken is one of my favorite meats, and I have a hard time missing a Crispy Fried Chicken whenever I do a Chinese or Oriental restaurant. I later recall showing a photo print of Fast Wok's Fried Half Chicken to some people and remember the sighs of yearning they made as they said it looked so good. Maybe it was the presentation, cut up and spread out over the bed of shredded cabbage that made it look like a lot of chicken. It WAS a lot of chicken, and it was served with a bowl of rice and a semi-spicy, flavorful dipping sauce. I remember thinking to myself how people would flock to this place en masse once they saw how much food they get when ordering this lunch special. It was impressive.
The good thing about this low price is you can afford to order another dish, which I did. A regular menu offering, the Shrimp Fried Noodles amazed me. It was a pile of thin rice noodles mixed with lots of bean sprouts, green onions, and small shrimp (sized just below medium). I liked the first bite and ate more, again appreciating that someone was making it a point to prepare and serve good tasting food to their customers. Mindy did tell me that small amounts of MSG are used in some of their dishes, however, you can request that no MSG be used for any of your entrees.
Other items on their menu are Beef with Black Bean Sauce ($6.95), Stir-Fried Tofu ($6.95), Walnut Shrimp ($8.95), Chicken Chopsuey ($6.95), Fried Lumpia ($5.95), Fried Spare Ribs ($6.95), Fried Tilapia ($6.95), and Sweet & Spicy Chicken ($6.95). Chef Jackie told me they have a Chinese menu every day - it's on a chalk board to the side and lists about 10 different entrees, which are all based on availability. Some items are fresh seafood like lapu lapu and crab - many of which aren't on any printed menu, but can be ordered when available. Chef Jackie is no stranger to cooking; he's cooked at the Onward, Lufuku in the Westin, Shirley's, Food Classic, and in Hong Kong. He has certainly found his element in his own restaurant, and I don't think he could be any happier. Jackie said that they cook the food fast to meet the short time window of the average lunch patron, who must order and eat quickly.
Whatever the Fast Wok Restaurant may lack in atmosphere with its rose-colored vinyl tablecloths and sparse decor (save for few Buddha statues and red & gold Chinese banners) is more than made up for by the assurance of getting your money's worth of tasty food and getting it in a hurry. Enjoy fresh, value-priced meals at Fast Wok Restaurant in Tamuning. Call them at 647-8989 to order take-out or to see if any of their specialties are available on a particular day.