(Sorta) Cowboy Chinese in Burbank…
Face it. When you’re in Los Angeles, you’re going to have to deal with average or sub-average Chinese Food. I’m talking about the overly fried, overly sugared, starchy stuff that passes for the good stuff at Panda Express, but stuff that would make Native Chinese scratch their heads, and wonder “what the hell is that??”
Don’t blame the grub. It’s as much a product of history as anything else. Chinese workers were brought here to work the mines, the railroads, what have you (and we treated them awfully until 1952). The Chinese (and Japanese for that matter) who came here, adapted their food to the local ingredients and tried to sell it to tastes. The popular items that stuck are the Chinese-American cuisine you’ll find in most cheapie, quickie Chinese Food places today. Things like Chow-Mein were invented here (specially Seattle). Things like the Fortune Cookie were invented in Japan, but popularized here.
So it is with some irony that Frontier Wok came into being. The whole idea was to pay tribute to just that kind of Chinese-American cooking, the kind you’d find on the Frontier of the Great American West. Frontier Wok’s original location, even pays tribute in its theme and decor.
My only thing is, its still kinda average Chinese fare. Good Chinese-American fare, to be sure, but average (at best) as straight ahead Chinese fare. Think of it as a Panda Express, but with items made with some love and care.
The Menu isn’t going to shock you. There’s nothing radical or inventive here. It’s just what you like, freshly made and plenty of it. It’s a decent enough lunch place. Would I give it an edge over someplace like P.F. Chang’s? Hell yes. Would I go to Frontier Wok over a place like, well…ANY in Monterey Park or San Gabriel?
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, for one thing, a glass of water, as at least what I ordered was sugary sweet enough as to not be believed. I had the Orange Chicken, which came right out of the wok hot and fresh They made it he right way, with peppers and good chunks of chicken. The best part was not everything was batter dipped, so you could actually taste the chicken at times, not just the breading like you do at Panda Express. I also had the Pot Stickers, which were okay. (In truth, the way I grade potstickers is by asking myself if I could’ve done a better job at home with something I would’ve bought at 99 Ranch…and in this case, I could’ve done a bette job at home with something I would’ve bought at 99 Ranch) My lunch companion had the Wonton Soup, which she said was only okay. The actual Wontons were quite large, but weren’t heated evenly. I seem to remember the same problem with the Pot Stickers.
I will say the tiny portion of Hot and Sour Soup was a different animal from what I’m used to. It had a darker broth (I could taste the Soy Sauce in it), and came off much tangier than I’m used to. It wasn’t bad, just different, and in this case, for once, different is a good thing.
PARKING: Not bad. Not bad at all. Both locations have their own lots, which can fill up fast for Lunch, but there is available street parking, so…
Frontier Wok, Too
1816 W. Olive Ave.
Burbank, California 91506
Tel: (818) 954-9965
Monday-Thursday: 11:00am – 9:30pm
Friday: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Saturday: 12:00am – 9:30pm
Sunday: 4:00pm – 9:00pm