Late Night Asian-Fusion in the Heart of Downtown
If you work, study, or live near Downtown Los Angeles, you can now find excellent sushi and Asian cuisine without having to drive to Hollywood or Beverly Hills. Right at the heart of Seventh and Fig, Wokcano Café specializes in the fusion of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine. After opening its doors in 2007, Wokcano has become one of the hottest late night spots for drinks, meals, and mingling, as they are open until 2 a.m. nightly. Apart from the late night crowd, Wokcano is also a fabulous place to go for a business lunch or happy hour. In addition to this location, Wokcano also has locations in Long Beach, Pasadena, and West Hollywood. Wokcano has been the scene of many celebrities including Britney Spears, Madonna, Mila Kunis, Jamie Fox, Vince Vaughn, Lindsey Lohan, Taylor Swift, Busta Rhymes, Shakira, and many, many more.
Wokcano showcases a modern Zen atmosphere with its dark mahogany wood all throughout and columns of charcoal gray stones. The restaurant has dim lighting throughout to give it an intimate feel, while upbeat music plays in the background. The main dining area is in view of the sushi bar and chefs, while the booths on the side of the restaurant facing Seventh street offer more privacy. These are excellent seats as the nice, plush booths face the high ceiling to floor windows overlooking Seventh street. In between the wide dark wooden slats covering the windows, diners get a glimpse of the city life and bustling traffic while enjoying their meal.
Marcus Kwan, the CEO of Wokcano, began working as a busboy nineteen years ago at the young age of sixteen. He possess experience unlike any other CEO because he has worked “every position the restaurant industry has to offer” in both the front and back of the house. His previous restaurant was Island’s Chinese on La Cienega’s restaurant row, which was redesigned and reopened as the first Wokcano. His inspiration behind opening a Chinese and Japanese fusion restaurant was to offer diners the ultimate experience of Asian cuisine with a wide selection of choices, from sushi and sashimi to Chinese entrees and noodle dishes. This concept would ensure that everyone would be able to find something they like here. Wokcano is different from other restaurants because they serve Chinese food, throw sushi into the mix, and offer a unique modern vibe until 2 a.m. nightly. In the next five years, Wokcano is looking to expand and open additional locations.
Some of their most popular dishes are the Golden Triangle Roll, Glazed Honey Walnut Shrimp, Black Pepper Beef Mignon, and Seared Salmon with Ginger Soy. The Golden Triangle Roll features a triangular cut roll of asparagus and avocado wrapped in pink soy paper that is topped with spicy tuna and crowned with a mint leaf holding black masago. The asparagus gives it a nice crunch and the soy paper makes it easy to eat. The fresh mint paired with the spicy tuna is an interesting combination of flavors, but rather refreshing. Kwan’s personal favorite Wokcano dishes are the Black Pepper Beef Mignon “because the beef is really tender and the marinade adds a delicious aroma to the great taste” and the Spicy Tuna on Belgium Endives as “the spicy minced tuna has a punch and the endive adds crispness to the flavorful dish.” The beef mignon slices are medium rare tender and the black pepper sauce is the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of rice.
Under hot appetizers, the Dynamite is sure to please with its scallops, mushrooms, white onion, and smelt eggs all baked in a spicy dynamite sauce. The tender miniature scallops absorb a lot of flavor from the onions and spicy light cream sauce and are a great way to whet your appetite. The cold appetizers are more creative as Wokcano features different varieties of sashimi cut in imaginative ways. The Hamachi with Ground Radish, Green Onion in Soy Ponzu Sauce is one of my favorites. The buttery, soft yellowtail slices with a concoction of ground radish and diced green onions atop each, are nestled in a light soy ponzu sauce. Slices of jalapeno at the end of the dish are a nice touch for those who want to kick it up a notch. For those who enjoy the fiery combination of tuna and jalapeno, the Seared Tuna with Jalapeno in Garlic Ponzu Sauce is a must. The thickly but elegantly cut slices of fresh tuna with black peppered edges are slightly seared, giving off a faint peppery undertone. A jalapeno slice crowns each piece of tuna, adding heat, while the garlic ponzu sauce helps give a clean finish.
Wokcano features both traditional and creative sushi rolls. The Red Dragon Roll is a spicy tuna roll topped with slices of fresh tuna and tempura crunch. This is great for pure tuna aficionados because the roll is inundating with tuna, but does not overwhelm. The tempura crunch sprinkled over the tuna slices gives it a nice crisp, crunch. For avocado lovers, the Green Dragon Roll has spicy tuna roll on the inside, with avocado slices wrapped along the outside, and Tabasco sauce and spicy mayonnaise glazed on the top. The avocado gives each bite a smooth, buttery texture, while the spicy mayo along with Tabasco creates a spicy and distinctive taste. One can always determine the quality of a restaurant’s sushi by ordering their uni and amaebi. The uni, which is sea urchin, was quite fresh as its buttery texture and nutty flavor was to be expected. The amaebi, known as sweet shrimp, was soft, supple, and better than what Koi offers and at a more affordable price. The shrimp heads are then deep fried and arrive afterwards as a tasty appetizer to be devoured.
Wokcano offers an extensive selection of entrees with beef, chicken, duck, and seafood. The test of an authentic Chinese kitchen is the classic Beef with Broccoli, which is superb here. The broccoli heads were perfectly al dente as they were not limp, and had a satisfying crunch. Stir fried with garlic, onions, and soy sauce, the slices of moist beef held immense flavor and its quality of tenderness was impressive. Other notable entrees to try are the White Fish Fillet with Asparagus, Spicy Garlic Eggplant, and Peking Duck, served with green onions and pancakes.
The restaurant also offers some fabulous noodle and rice dishes. The Singapore Style Noodle is made with yellow curry flavored thin rice vermicelli noodles stir fried with chicken, shrimp, green bell peppers, and onions. This medium spicy dish packs immense curry flavor with its generous portions of chicken, fresh vegetables, and springy noodles. If you can only choose one fried rice dish, it should be the Tokyo Crabmeat Fried Rice. This delicious dish of rice stir fried with cucumbers, real crabmeat, egg white, and green onions is a generous portion of home-cooked goodness! The fluffy scrambled egg whites tossed with the warm rice and chunks of real crabmeat is light, but extremely flavorful as the green onions give it just the right amount of zest. This dish would be perfect for a late night snack or as a guilty pleasure take-out item.
Wokcano in Downtown Los Angeles offers delicious Asian-fusion cuisine and great atmosphere at reasonable price, and is open for lunch and dinner daily. Wokcano also offers an unbeatable happy hour, from 3 – 7 p.m., with half off a select menu and all well drinks.
800 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90017