The dilemma of the all you can eat menu. How to make the most of the opportunity of an unlimited array of dishes balanced against the possibility of a) causing yourself severe physical discomfort from overeating and b) generally looking like a greedy pig .
The Wok Inn in Northampton has made a speciality of the all you can eat menu for many years.
Unlike some “eat as much as you like” venues, this is no buffet offer, with dishes sitting around on display while punters help themselves.
This is freshly cooked to order and all the better for it.
The temptation for me here is not about wanting to eat a vast amount, it’s more the desire to try a variety of dishes.
The all you can eat menu costs £16.80 per person on Friday and Saturday and £14.80 from Sunday until Thursday.
Children aged 11 and under eat for half price.
The two of us arrived at the restaurant in the early evening and found it was already very busy. Couples having a romantic dinner here, friends getting together there and a table of more than a dozen over there along the wall celebrating a 30th birthday.
On the one hand the restaurant seemed a bit too densely packed with tables but on the other it creates a nice buzz and a busy restaurant is always preferable to a deadly quiet one.
The staff were very attentive without being intrusive, taking food orders and extra requests promptly but without coming over to the table too often.
They were certainly kept busy on the night we were there.
The Wok Inn is a bit of an institution and has been the venue for many a works do that I know of.
It specialises in Pekinese dishes as well as cuisine from Singapore, Canton, and the Szechuen region.
I’ve been in there several times over the years and been impressed with the quality of the cooking.
So, having limited my food intake during the day to make sure my appetite was up to the task, we set about ordering a few starters.
We ordered crispy won tons, deep fried aubergine, seaweed and ribs and a bottle of white wine.
The won tons, were crunchy and crispy but a little heavier than I’d remembered them being on previous visits.
The deep fried aubergine was rich and the seaweed was crunchy and salty.
But the best of the starters were the ribs. They were saucy and sticky. I’m not the tidiest of eaters in a Chinese restaurant at the best of times and did no better on this occasion, but that’s ribs for you.
For the next course we ordered won ton soup and crispy duck pancakes.
The soup was a little disappointing and a bit blander than I would like but the duck was delicious.
Looking around the restaurant there did not appear to be a table that didn’t order the duck at some point.
It seems wrong not to.
Then it was on to the main course.
We ordered cod in Szechuan sauce, sweet and sour pork, kung po chicken, mixed vegetables and egg fried rice.
I ordered the fish thinking it would be something light after all the starters, but actually it was quite a rich dish.
I admit, I was flagging somewhat at this stage.
The sweet and sour pork was good, sticky and full of flavour and the kung po chicken had a kick to it with the vegetable providing a contrast to the rich flavours of the rest of the food.
The Wok Inn is always reliable and if you have a good appetite and a desire to try out a few unfamiliar dishes then the all you can eat menu there is well worth sampling.
The Wok Inn
44 Sheep Street
Disabled access: Yes
Parking: None at the restaurant but it is in the centre of town near the usual parking spots