West Side Chow

After months of much (self-hyped) speculation, the West Side’s newest restaurant opened its doors.

The Real Chow Baby on Howell Mill Road bills itself as “new American stir-fry.” They have an assortment of appetizers and desserts, but the real star of the show is the do-it-yourself stir-fry bar. An array of fresh vegetables, sauces, and meats (tofu for the vegetarians) allow you to mix, match, and load up before you get to the huge stir-fry wok. The cooks take your bowl (personalized with your own named “paddle”) and take care of the hard part. Sound familiar? Yes, this is the fancy pants version of Mongolian barbeque.

The food and ingredients are quite good, though. We tried the marinated tomato salad with sesame-crusted goat cheese and the calamari. The goat cheese was excellent in age and quality, and the calamari was crisp and not too greasy.

The stir-fry bar itself was impressive. Loads of different veggies and sauces give you endless choices. You can opt to make your stir-fry into a soup, salad, or wrap at no extra cost (seafood is a $1 extra). Plus, the only person you can blame for the cooking is yourself. For those who shy away from buffets, there are a la carte items as well.

All in all, it’s a great deal for lunch ($7.99) or an informal dinner ($9.99). Join their mailing list for special offers (like a free bottle of sake for your first visit). Did I mention it was all you can eat?

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