One of the biggest sinking moments that I had when I received my celiac diagnosis was the eventual realization, that at that point in time, there would no longer be any Chinese food in my foreseeable future. My diagnosis came when gluten-free options were few and far between and quite frankly more often than not – not worth the effort to seek out. My how times have changed. Perhaps one of my proudest moments came early-on following my diagnosis when I successfully navigated Hong Kong and Macau without getting glutened or going into anaphylaxis – which was a rip-roaring success in my book.
Chinese food in the U.S. is made even more tricky for me given my severe shellfish allergy due to the frequent use of oyster sauce – particularly at chains like P.F. Chang’s – where if you request the GF menu and then cross-check it with the shellfish allergy menu you will soon find that you can safely have one or two items. Pretty much all of their gluten-free items contain oyster sauce or some form of shellfish rendering them off-limits.
I tend to frequent (and prefer) smaller establishments and have had good and not so good Chinese food experiences. A while back a reader suggested trying Golden Wok Too in Ardsley, New York. I had been past the location many times but had never, in all those years, stopped-in. Well, all of that changed a couple of months ago when I stopped-in (well, more like hobbled-in on my crutches post ankle surgery) and I have been back several times since. It helps that it is near my surgeon’s office so after an ankle check-up I reward myself with some fantastic gluten-free Chinese food.
Now, I must first warn you that walking in to Golden Wok Too is akin to riding in the Back to the Future DeLorean and exiting oh, around 1982. It is extremely dated but in design only. It’s the kind of place where the plates don’t really match but is doesn’t matter because it is all about the food. The food is actually light-years ahead of anything I have come across in a long while. Chinese food has a reputation for being heavy and greasy but when done correctly it can be something truly spectacular. First off, Golden Wok Too has an extensive gluten-free menu that is separate from the main menu. You will also immediately notice that there is a statement on the bottom of the menu about GFRAP training from the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of this organization given their lack of transparency and missteps with their certification program. It does however show that the restaurant (at some point in time) underwent training on how to safely prepare foods to minimize risk of cross contamination – so that’s something.
The menu has all of the traditional favorites that you would expect all neatly ordered and numbered. There is truly something for every taste with a wonderful selection of pork, chicken, beef, seafood, noodle, and house specialties. There are also some items that are not on the menu – like a chicken spring roll appetizer, cold sesame noodle starter, or gluten-free soup options – but just ask and your server will make recommendations.
During my several visits I have tried a different entrée each time and have not been disappointed. The orange chicken is perfectly crisp and served with crisp bell peppers and fragrant orange rind paired with just the right amount of sauce that is light and not the slightest bit greasy. You can request your preferred level of spiciness and it is always spot-on. All of the chicken dishes are perfectly cut pieces of white meat chicken – crispy on the outside while tender and moist on the inside.
The orange beef is also delicious with the cut of beef remaining tender and not at all chewy as can often be the case. The beef is encapsulated in a light batter that is fried to golden perfection. The sauce is the perfect balance between sweet and spicy but is not overpowering and is elevated by the use of fresh and crisp scallions.
The Chicken for a Five Star General is one of their specialty dishes that caught my eye during one visit. This is Golden Wok’s take on General Tso’s chicken. Crispy white meat chicken is lightly dressed in a fragrant brown sauce with fresh sliced garlic, bell peppers, and broccoli. The portions are generous but not ridiculous – I have finished each dish without feeling weighed-down or heavy as I walk out.
Their take on sesame chicken was absolutely wonderful. The lightly battered chicken was again perfectly cooked and served with crisp steamed fresh broccoli all lightly sauced in a rich brown sauce with fresh scallions and a dusting of sesame seeds. The sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy but extremely light on the palate as are all the dishes that I have tried so far.
I am not a huge starter person but I did try the chicken spring/egg roll which was interesting but not really my thing. It was not bad by any means but just not something I would order again (and it is not on the actual menu so you do have to ask for it). I did indulge in their egg drop soup (the regular version is actually gluten-free) and it was delicious. Piping hot with a slightly creamy mouthfeel that signals the perfect egg drop soup.
If you find yourself near the Hudson in Westchester County definitely make your way to Golden Wok Too for some fantastic gluten-free Chinese food that actually surpasses the quality of what you will find in Manhattan and far surpasses the chain restaurant quality and variety.
Golden Wok Too
Ardsley Plaza, 875 Saw Mill River Rd #12
Ardsley, New York 10502
Phone: (914) 693-2110