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All for the change in your couch



After years of riding a bike to and fro, I recently obtained a car. A big, old, gas-snorting internally-combusting American dream. Whatever the freedoms, my beloved car is nickel and dime-ing me out of my comfortable, color-coordinated tax bracket and into poverty. In fact, I am broke. Dead, busted, flat-naked broke. What the hell does my sob story have to do with food and your life, you ask? Patience, dear reader, for I am about to tell you about a place that will change our lives.

It's called 2000 Wok, and it's located on the north end of the historic North End, just east of Cascade Avenue on Fillmore. This little gem is nestled between an auto parts store and a repair shop in what used to be a Taco Bell, before the mega-chain relocated to the other side of Nevada Avenue. While still sporting the arched windows and imitation-adobe exterior of the vanished bean dealers, the new owners have stripped the dining area and kitchen of all earth-toned traces of the previous tenants. The main room, the vestibule, if you will, is furnished with simple black and teal tables and chairs, each with a bottle of soy sauce, a collection of sweetener packets and very little else in the way of decoration.

The most colorful aspects of 2000 Wok are the buffet-esque chafing dishes lined up in the front section of the restaurant. Behind the clear glass divider, the vivid reds, greens, browns and yellows of rich MSG-free Chinese and Vietnamese concoctions are poured steaming from huge silver bowls into the square dishes, where they are quickly spooned away by the amazingly quick and efficient staff. I recently ordered seven dishes, and without writing it down or even stopping what he was doing, the young server filled my order -- with nary a mistake or substitution -- in about two minutes.

The very spicy Mongolian Beef is the most colorful perhaps of all the dishes offered in the buffet, what with its strips of red and green peppers, carrots, yellow and green onions, blood-colored chilis and freshly-ground black pepper. Then you've got the burnt sienna of the Potato Pork, smothered in a buttery sweet sauce with just a hint of peanut. The Chicken Lo Mein won't win any beauty contests, as it's a bit sparse on the carrots, lettuce, green and yellow onions and actual chicken, but what it lacks in color and content it makes up for with texture. The thick noodles are not very greasy -- neither too firm or too mushy -- and wonderfully seasoned. Monochromatic but addictively tasty are the Hot and Spicy Chicken and the Sweet and Sour Chicken. Each is crispy on the outside and covered with sauces of just the right flavor consistency. While the Hot and Spicy sauce is served with veggies, red pepper seeds and chunks, the dish is more flavorful and tart than organically heated. The Sweet and Sour is both -- tangy without being candied. And most importantly, it is not fluorescent orange. Do you hear me, Oriental restaurants of the Pikes Peak Region?? Sweet and Sour Chicken absolutely does not have to be bright orange!

In every dish sampled, the vegetables were firm, crisp and fresh -- like just chopped ten minutes ago fresh. The quality of the food paired with the speed of the kitchen make 2000 Wok an outstanding lunch joint.

You're probably still wondering how this information is going to change your life. Well, sit down, skeptical reader. Every item on the menu is $1.25. One dollar and 25 cents. 12 pesos. That's less than a gallon of gas, cheap gas, even. Less than drive-thru fast food. Less than if you made it yourself. Screw Regis. This kind of frugal dining is how you're going to be a millionaire. See? Consider your life changed.

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