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If it's your first time at World Oriental Kitchen, many things will seem striking about King Street's newest, sustainable, Asian-inspired eatery: its lime green exterior, zen-rock studded entrance, and chromed-out kitchen.
Walking inside, line cooks wearing black chef coats (none of whom are Asian) stand beside woks ready to stir-fry, while customers 0rder food with the cashier.
The menu at WOK is broken into three parts.
Step One: Choose your base ($5).
Of the choices here - rice noodles/lo mein/brown rice/write rice/veggie and egg/organic salad - our favorite is the lo mein. The thick egg noodles soak up flavor nicely, filling you up, so you're less likely to leave feeling hungry. All bases come with onions, cabbage, and carrots.
Step Two: Add your favorites.
Here's when dining at WOK starts to get fun (and potentially pricey). Choose between meats like shrimp, chicken, pork, and beef ($2.5 each), and other toppings like green beans, peanuts, broccoli, and zucchini ($1.5 each). All the meat served at WOK is raised humanely and the vegetables are grown by local farmers, organic and chemical-free.
Step Three: Getch'ya Sauce.
When choosing a sauce at WOK, be choosy. Do you want honey citrus pepper? black bean garlic? or sweet chili? We thought we hit a home run when we ordered lo mein with shrimp, water chestnuts, bell peppers and broccoli stir fried in general tso's. The staff at WOK will let you sample their sauces from tiny white spoons, until you find one for which you're keen.
Once you've finished ordering, you can wait for your food in the back dining room, which, might I add, is kind of scary. White lights shine on cinderblock walls and grass lined shelves as really loud, club music blasts in the background. But still, dining at WOK is fun - interactive and fun.
If you need a waiter, you press a button on a screen on your table. On the back wall, an LCD shares how the restaurant was built and operates sustainably. And when you finish, you sort your trash in separate bins for plastic, paper and composting.
WOK also serves local beers, wines and fruit-infused saki. On Thurs. - Sat. they're open until 2 a.m., and always offer take-out and delivery. And although the decor is an ostentatious attempt to be trendy, what makes WOK unique is the way it boldly brings to Charleston a restaurant that whole-heartedly embraces a healthy, eco-friendly philosophy.
Every time we go to WOK, we feel like we're eating Chinese in a Kill Bill burial scene. But every time we leave, we go home thinking, "Hey, I'd do this again."
Tonight marks our third time in two weeks.