Usually a "coming soon" sign is all that might announce a forthcoming restaurant. For Wok N’ Roll in Huntington, it was go big or go home: A mural of a flaming dragon, chopsticks nipping at its mane, appeared on New Street brick wall months before it opened. The dragon (painted by Andaluz the Artist) sparked chatter: What kind of place was taking shape behind that wall?
During the first week of May, owner Chris Quirke finally revealed his baby: A polished takeout spot (with another mural inside, but no tables) devoted to egg noodles, zucchini noodles or rice flash-cooked with pulled pork, or steak or chicken, or shrimp and bacon, or topped with fried onions and black-garlic sauce — a nouvelle take on Chinese takeout.
"I knew the demand was there," said Quirke, 31. For years, Quirke — who launched his culinary career at Nassau Coliseum concessions when he was barely 18, and once worked at Citi Field for Union Square Hospitality — had mulled a concept for from-scratch, healthy, fast-casual stir-fry that blends elements from Chinese, Thai and other Asian cuisines. For the last eight years, as owner of New York Panini in Huntington, Quirke had also noticed surging numbers of gluten-free eaters, and they became a cornerstone of Wok N’ Roll’s concept. "They’re used to such a low bar when it comes to their allergies," Quirke said, and he hoped to raise it.
Fittingly, Wok N’ Roll landed in the space where a gluten-free bakery, Wild Flours Bake Shop, closed in late 2019. Quirke tapped longtime friend Chris "Geo" Huang, a former sous chef at Del Posto in New York City, as Wok N’ Roll’s head chef. Together, they melded minds and backgrounds for an oeuvre of noodle and rice bowls that draw on lo-mein style egg noodles from a Brooklyn producer but also fresh zucchini noodles. "It’s pretty much an all-day thing," Quirke said of spiralizing. "We also started experimenting with tamari [gluten-free soy sauce], and as we got closer to opening, we realized it was easier if all the sauces were gluten-free."
That thinking eventually birthed a suite of six sauces, among them a smoldering house Dragon sauce that replicates something Quirke once encountered in Louisiana. They land on bowls such as the Headbanger (egg noodles, chicken, bacon, broccoli, snap peas, fried onions, cilantro and Thai basil with Dragon sauce, for $12.50) and Stairway to Heaven (pork, chicken or beef with bell peppers, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, fried onions, peanuts and scallions in a black garlic sauce, for $14.95). Customers can also approach the menu modularly, choosing a base (egg noodles, zucchini noodles or fried rice) plus protein, toppings, sauce and add-ons, among them jalapeños or a hard-boiled egg soaked in teriyaki. The bowls start at $6.50; pork and vegetable egg rolls ($3.50 to $4) can come in a gluten-free rice wrapper.
Wok N’ Roll is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with late-night hours to come later. While Quirke is not getting much time off right now, he said he’s extremely grateful — for the collaboration with Huang, for the 12 people hired for Wok N’ Roll’s team, and for opening a business at the tail end of a year when others have struggled or faltered. COVID delayed plans for Wok N’ Roll, he said, but "I don’t take anything granted."
Wok N’ Roll, 11 New St., Huntington. 631-231-2215. woknroll.mobilebytes.com