Farewell, Punk Wok: Chef Elliott Moss moves on to new projects

WOK ON THE WILD SIDE: The last two nights to experience Elliott Moss' Asian-themed pop-up restaurant, Punk Wok, will be Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 28 and 29. Photo by Robert Gunn

After 48 weeks of turning Asian cooking on its head, rogue chef Elliot Moss is bringing Punk Wok to an end following service on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Last winter, after abruptly leaving Ben’s Tune-Up, the James Beard-recognized chef began taking over MG Road’s kitchen on Mondays and Tuesdays to host his own pop-up dinners — something that at the time, he explained to Xpress, was merely a way of biding time until he could accomplish his ultimate goal of opening a wood-fired barbecue venue. That dream became a reality, partially because of Punk Wok and his work with Chef Meherwan Irani, the proprietor of Chai Pani and MG Road. The two formed a partnership to launch the porkcentric Buxton Hall venture, slated to open in the South Slope this fall or winter.

But the end of Punk Wok doesn’t mean Buxton Hall is ready to swing open its doors just yet. There is still a lot of work to be done, says Moss. “We’re still waiting around for the space to be ready,” he says. “We had planned to end Punk Wok after a year because we thought we’d be open by now.”

The pop-up dinner quickly became a local favorite for the service industry since it was held on Mondays and Tuesdays, nights when many local restaurants are closed.

Instead of MG Road’s usual dim, lounge ambiance, Punk Wok sees the lights turn bright red with large paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, posters of graffiti-esque Chinese emblems and icons replacing the usual wholesome photos of India, and the speakers shake with the sounds of the Sex Pistols and the Misfits. Punk Wok served as the catalyst that turned MG Road into what seems to be a rotating venue for pop-up events, with MG Roadhouse and Girls On Deck following in its wake.

Moss’ menu regularly features a few riffs on classic Chinese dumplings, a rotating beef tartare, some kind of noodle bowl and variations of an Asian-inspired salad, as well as a slew of other obscure, rare or just uniquely interpreted Eastern dishes that changed each week. For a city that has little in the way of traditional Asian fare, instead skewing towards safe, Americanized options, the pop-up serves as a weekly respite for those craving a rich dashi or the comfort of dim sum.

This won’t be the end of Moss’ pop-ups though. Expect more between now and the opening of Buxton Hall. “I’ve got this smoker and I plan to do some pop-up things with that down the road until we open. I just need to focus more on things related to the barbecue spot.”

It’s not too late to squeeze in your last meal at the event. Punk Wok will be serving 6-10 on Monday, Oct. 27, with the last supper being served 6-10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Check out this video about Punk Wok by Michael Files and Sabrina Kolton with music by Michael Libramento:

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About Jonathan Ammons
Native Asheville writer, eater, drinker, bartender and musician. Proprietor of www.dirty-spoon.com Follow me @jonathanammons

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