When the word is on the street, it’s usually a good idea to pay attention to the word. Some people make false claims, some keep their mouths shut and a few simply have no idea what they’re talking about. But most of the time when there is smoke, there is fire.
There’s been a rumor spreading that Wild Bowl and Sushi needs to be your stop for fast, made-to-order Asian food. I heard this and certainly perked up, always looking for more sushi, yet skeptical about the idea. It wasn’t until downtown food maniac and owner of Rooster’s Latin American restaurant Frankie Little sang its praises that I figured it was time for further investigation.
Trusting Little, wanting more, I began to waft my way through the smokescreen that almost threw me off my path. It’s a bit confusing. Wild Bowl and Sushi is a restaurant inside of a restaurant! The parent restaurant is Wild Wing Station #2, which on the website is called Wild Wing Station #1. Even harder to decipher is that Wild Wing Station #1 (per website, not my receipt, which reads #2), located at 1500 Government St. behind Starbucks at Catherine, is the only store out of the five in our area that co-locates with Wild Bowl and Sushi.
Forget all of that. At the corner of Catherine and Government there is a chicken wing place with a separate counter that sells Asian food.
I was gearing up for my annual Thankstaking — prepping, brining, chopping and getting ready for a huge pre-Thanksgiving turkey day. Knowing I couldn’t handle Americanized comfort food the day prior, I thought it best that the boys and I splurge on some sushi and bowls. Wild Bowl was the perfect mark.
From their Facebook page (I’d love to see their website a bit more detailed with prices), I called in a feast to go and was told to give them 15 minutes. When I arrived I only had to wait a couple extra minutes for the finishing touches. You’ll soon see how impressive this turnaround time was.
Back at the house, Lucas, Graham and I tore into three bags of plastic containers. We began with Pork Gyoza ($4.99). I call them pot stickers. These were crispy, fried a bit, with a little soy-based dipping sauce on the side. My kids now love pot stickers and I guarantee they’ll never shy away from them at the Chinese buffet again.
Their second favorite was the Soft Shell Crab Tempura ($5.99). The light batter was perfect with the soft shell (I usually fry them with a grittier batter) and the accompanying vegetables of carrots, onions, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli were also a delight. Not every day do my kids get to eat their broccoli fried. They seemed to like it better than steamed.
I rarely pass on Tuna Tataki ($7.99), and at that price there was no way I was missing out. Most would call this a very simple interpretation, with the seared tuna barely touching the flame and served over shredded lettuce drizzled with some sort of citrus dressing. There was zero flair, but I needed that tuna.
In bigger cities ramen has been a fad for a while. It hasn’t really caught on here, but there are a couple of places serving. Wild Bowl did not disappoint with its Seafood Ramen ($10.99). I watched the guy cook this through the kitchen window and almost decided to eat it on the way home. The broth was served separately for the to-go order and reassembled at the house. Lots of seafood, such as shrimp, scallops and imitation crab, were a joy with green onion, white onion and carrots.
On the other end of the noodle spectrum was the Seafood Yaki Udon ($9.99). The seafood was the same as the ramen but the thick udon noodles with mushroom, broccoli, cilantro and cabbage made the experience totally different.
I had to at least try one sushi roll. I chose Mexican Orgasm Roll ($11) solely for the name. I didn’t mention what it was called to my children. They don’t care for sushi, proving it again by not being able to finish the one piece they were given. With tempura shrimp and veggies, I should say if this is what an orgasm is like in Mexico I will stay north of the border. It was just a boring roll, not bad, just not anything to write about.
The Bibim Bop ($10.99), on the other hand, was the star of the show. This Korean nod was a rice bowl of bulgogi (thinly sliced beef) with zucchini cut crossways, cucumbers cut lengthwise, carrot and onion strips, chopped dark green lettuce and chopped mushrooms. All of this was topped with a sunny side up egg.
A small cup of red sauce and instructions to “pour it around and stir it up at the last minute” added to the fun. The sauce, a deep crimson, was sweet at first taste but the heat gained momentum with each passing second. This dish had the most depth of anything we sampled.
Of course I only ordered this much so I could sample each section of the menu. If you want to scale down it would be easy to make a meal out of the appetizer section, which includes egg rolls, edamame and soup. I love Korean food and wish we had more of it in Mobile. As good as the rest of the food was I am certain there’s another roll that would restore my faith in their sushi.
Lesson learned. People get to running their mouths about an experience and in this case the rumors were true. Give this place a try as soon as you come out of your Thanksgiving food coma. They don’t have turkey rolls.
Wild Bowl and Sushi (Wild Wing Station)
1500 Government St., Suite 1