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Dining Out:

Best of Far East on the West Coast

May 17, 2008|By Christine Putnam

It is considered one of the best Chinese food restaurants in Burbank. It is often standing-room-only at lunchtime. And it has the best homemade, Shanghai dim sum for miles around. Between the Far East and West Coast, Frontier Wok in Burbank stands alone when it comes to delicious Hong Kong cuisine. Well, almost alone. They have two locations in Burbank.

If you are looking for the perfect place for the business lunch in Burbank, try Frontier Wok on Olive Avenue or North Hollywood Way. I recently had the occasion to take a couple of associates out to lunch to discuss my upcoming book tour. Of course, no one could agree on what type of cuisine they wanted until I suggested Chinese food.

The Frontier Wok on Olive Avenue has a quaint exterior with a patio right out front that reminds you more of a country cafe than Chinese food restaurant. We arrived right in the middle of the lunchtime rush and found every table inside taken. That was fine with us. The interior was rather loud and the decor a little dated. The tables and chairs still looked comfortable enough for a quick lunch.

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The smells from the kitchen just to the right of the seating area definitely make you want to pull up a chair. I could not help but take a glance over the short wall at the chefs working in something that resembled a routine state of mechanical chaos. It reminded me a little of watching the chefs at work at the White House — chaos to the eye of the observer, organized efficiency to the cooks rushing around.

We sat outside on the patio and ordered a pot of tea. The waiter immediately brought us an appetizer-size green salad with a tangy but very sweet dressing. It definitely prepares your palate for the soup course. Our soup choices were hot and sour or a vegetable soup with a clear broth. I opted for the hot and sour soup, a Szechwan-inspired soup in a thick brown broth mixed with bits of shredded chicken and tofu. It was tangy and sour but only slightly spicy.

The dim sum or appetizer menu has some great choices. The goldminer’s spring rolls are crispy and packed with vegetables, while the Shitake mushrooms definitely make the chicken shui mai stand out.

The bao, or fluffy dumpling-like buns filled with pork in a barbecue sauce, were a little too sweet for my taste, but everyone else loved them.

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