If there was ever a restaurant in Johnson City that deserved to be a member of my family’s “Chosen Few,” that restaurant is Wok & Hibachi.

Being honored with this unique status when my dining partner and I were courting and then later when we married; “Th’Wok” is one restaurant that both of us have “talked-up” to friends, acquaintances, clients and others over the years. With the effects of the recent pandemic dwindling, my dining partner and I were anxious to get out and survey what the “Interesting Times” had wrought upon this member of our “Chosen Few.”

First impressions

The first impression of Wok & Hibachi’s redesigned interior is that of “openness” and “airiness.” The cashier and carry-out counter, once located by the front door, is no more. The former sushi line counter space is now handling those duties. The teppan station is still there, but with a much smaller “footprint,” the extra space thus found has been given over to customer seating.

At present, Wok & Hibachi’s buffet service line location has also been re-purposed with tables and chairs. Word is that, as the “Interesting Times” continue to dwindle, the buffet line will return, hopefully undiminished and as tasty as ever. Wok & Hibachi’s private dining area has also been remodeled and is still found down a short hallway off the main dining area.

Another hallway shows the way to the nearby restrooms.

Appetizers: Egg Rolls and Hot and Sour Soup

With servers Emilee and Kendall in attendance, my dining partner and I settled down to ordering our supper. My dining partner has always started her meal at Wok & Hibachi with a pair of their excellent vegetable egg rolls along with a small bowl of sweet chili sauce, and our current visit was no exception. Happily, she found her egg rolls were still on the menu, and placed her order.

I’d already decided that my appetizer would be a cup of Wok & Hibachi’s delicious hot and sour soup ($2.75), absolutely scrumptious and my way to start a meal. The broth is thick, savory and has just the right level of sour flavor to brighten the dish and make your taste buds sparkle.

Satay Tofu Vegetables Hot Pot

I’ve found a new and delicious way to eat my vegetables. My entrée for the evening was from Wok & Hibachi’s Thai menu, being their Satay Tofu Vegetables Hot Pot ($10.95). The satay’s flavorful sauce starts with chicken broth and then heads off into a Thai spice universe that I am still trying to determine. One thing for sure, tofu never tasted better, especially when combined with locally sourced and prepared vegetables and some delicious fried rice as a foundation for my plate. Very nice indeed.

Vegetable Shrimp with Fried Rice

Meanwhile, my dining partner, idly munching on her egg roll appetizer, was preparing to choose her entrée for the meal. This turned out to be a dinner-sized portion of the Vegetable Shrimp entree ($13.50). Beginning with Wok & Hibachi’s simmering brown sauce there are added broccoli florets, snow peas, carrots, onion, baby corn and a quantity of 21-count shrimp. The fried rice is a Wok & Hibachi specialty that is so good it could be ordered and enjoyed just on its own merits. Adding fried rice to the order of Vegetable Shrimp is a fortunate inspiration on someone’s part back in the kitchen, making the whole dish totally delicious from start to finish.

Conclusion

This is a truly great Asian-themed restaurant, one that Johnson Citians can be rightfully proud to call their own. The redesign on the restaurant is easy on the eye with a decor that cleverly balances comfort with a serenity most restaurateurs only dream about. The service provided by the wait staff is exemplary. (Thank you, Emilee and Kendall.)

On the menu, old favorites are being joined by new offerings, and not just in the entrée category. (For instance, my dining partner’s egg rolls are now available in a curry version, an appetizer that I am eager to try.)

Yes, Wok & Hibachi has survived their “Interesting Times,” all right.

It will be interesting to see whether the changes they’ve made to restaurant, service, and menu will brighten their future.

Worth a look (and a taste), wouldn’t you say?

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