Goodbye China Wok; new Thai, Chinese fare on Broadway

China Wok, the hole-in-the-wall eatery on Broadway favored by some patrons for its fast, inexpensive takeout service and lambasted by others who’ve complained of uncleanliness, is no more.

In its place is Char Koon, a Thai and Chinese restaurant that opened Oct. 27.

Longtime China Wok owners Ben and George Li sold the business in August to Johnny Sze, a New York City-based restaurateur who now lives in Ballston Spa with his family.

Sze, 53, who is Char Koon’s executive chef, currently operates a Thai restaurant in Manhattan and has owned others in Syracuse and Buffalo over the last 30 years.

The sleekly revamped restaurant at 388A Broadway calls to mind a New York City nightclub, with low-hanging purple lights, purple ceilings and dark walls and floors. Renovations this fall have provided a modern double-door entranceway and shiny new tables. Seating is, for now, at the same spearmint-colored booths left over from the restaurant’s China Wok days.

Diners are greeted by a neon pink “welcome” sign and waved through the narrow front room and into the back dining room by Larry Zhao, the restaurant’s gregarious host and manager.

Formal, covered menu books offer both Thai and Chinese dishes priced substantially higher than China Wok fare. Favorites like Pad Thai and homemade red Thai tea, iced or hot, are listed among the usual meat, vegetable, rice and noodle options.

Takeout is still available and the restaurant will deliver within a 3-mile radius, but Zhao said the focus of the new owner is on presenting sit-down dining with atmospheric touches that were absent from China Wok, such as music, soft lighting and art. All of these features are intended to enhance the experience of the food, of course.

“These are all new recipes that are fresh and tested out in New York City,” Zhao said. “We want to see how people react.”

For more information, call Char Koon at 581-9000. The restaurant is open until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sundays; and until 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.


Anonymous Ben Hailstone said...

WOOHOO. Maybe some decent Chinese food in town finally? There is already some good(though very overpriced) Thai food just down the block on Phila St. But this town is severely lacking in GOOD Chinese food. I'll have to try it a.s.a.p.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 11:44:00 PM 

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