When we first walked it, it reminded me of one of those awful Chinese fast food places with orange chicken and other fake Asian monstrosities festering in their own sauces behind a sticky glass case (only this place is pretty clean). But I set aside my instinctive aversion and went straight for the front counter.
Wok Combo is listed as a Chinese restaurant on Yelp, and has only mediocre reviews (which I did not bother reading). I was also a bit skeptical because its dubious Chino Hills location, but as we discovered, there’s a 99 Ranch and a number of Asian cafes and restaurants sprouting up in the area, so maybe my stereotypical impression of Chino Hills is unfounded.
Anyways, my uncle told us that he was introduced to the restaurant by an Indonesian friend, who vouched for the authenticity of Wok Combo’s food. Apparently you have to specifically ask for the Indonesian a la carte menu. So we did.
Dad and I decided to go with our go-to, the pork satay with peanut sauce. I don’t really like anything remotely peanut-buttery unless it’s spicy, but Dad especially likes a good peanut sauce. I think he enjoyed the satay more than I did; it was too sweet for me. But it was nice and charred on the outside and moist on the inside, with the right mix of crunch and meatiness.
I asked the waitress — she’s been in the States for three years and speaks near perfect English — for her recommendation. Since I like spicy food, she suggested we try the rice wrapped in banana leaf, also known as Nasi Bungkus. Along with the rice, there’s a spicy stew-like curry sauce with tender beef chunks, fried chicken with red chili peppers, curried vegetables and some other unidentifiable but tasty bits.
It was, in a word, delicious. In two words, deliciously spicy. Spicy food is best on a hot day. I defy anyone who says otherwise. Three weeks in Malaysia taught me this truth, and eating spicy food on a day like today made me exceptionally happy.
At the same time, I really enjoy drinks from Southeast Asian countries. Drinks like the Soda Gembira we ordered, which is essentially soda mixed with syrup and condensed milk. I love the feeling of having something leurng when you’ve had too much yeet hay (熱氣) type food (regardless of the science/Chinese wisdom that may or may not be behind this, my body knows it).
Speaking of which, we relocated down the street to La V Cafe, where I ordered iced lychee black tea. I think the black tea is supposed to be on the leurng side, but lychee is considered yeet hay. Confusing. Now that I think about it, I should have just ordered my usual almond latte. Oh well.
The cafe itself seems to have a little bit of an identity crisis. The cafe is cutely decorated, the wifi is free, and it’s mostly quiet save for the Chinese ballads and pop songs playing softly in the background. They serve the usual suspects: milk tea, black and green tea, slushes, boba, etc. They also have a fairly extensive espresso menu; I love the rich coffee smell that wafts through the cafe every so often. And then in the refrigerated display case, they sell macarons, dainty slices of cheesecake, fancy fondue sets and pretty little desserts you’d expect to find in a French cake shop.
Dad and I are always excited when we find another cafe at which we can camp out and do work (well, work gets done when I’m not distracted by Internet memes and YouTube). That being said, I should get back to work.