I am running a Chinese restaurant in the US and I was shocked when I saw that Panda Express has a commercial induction cooktop. Commercial induction cooktops don’t produce as much “Wok Hei” as gas wok stoves – something that many Cantonese (including Chinese) value. Even though I have to add gas piping, ventilation, and safety certificates for the gas wok stove, I’m optimistic.
Commercial gas wok stoves are still the preference of many Chinese restaurant chefs, a tradition that stands for rapid heat up and speedy cooking. On my restaurant menu, many dishes rely on the help of a commercial gas wok. Even though I understand that commercial induction cooktops serve the same purpose, this is unproven and doesn’t convince me.
Commercial Gas Wok Stove VS Commercial Induction Wok Cooker - “Wok Hei”
I run a family Chinese restaurant and during my childhood, my father relied on a commercial gas wok to cook many delicious dishes for diners. These foods are full of “Wok Hei” – it is an indispensable flavor in the taste of Chinese food that the Chinese consider. This flavor is effective marketing at no cost, and it attracts many Chinese to our restaurant.
What’s the induction wok cooker?
Now that my father rarely cooks, it takes enough arm strength to operate a commercial gas wok. He’s old and it’s unbearable in a hot kitchen. On a marketing poster for a commercial induction wok cooker, I saw a sentence – heat without an open flame, keep the kitchen cool. I’m skeptical about this, any stove will have steam or fumes during cooking, and it’s unavoidable.
The advantages and disadvantages of Induction wok cooker
I’ve seen commercial induction wok cookers in the southern parts of the US, and they were more aesthetically pleasing than commercial gas wok cookers. It does not require additional cooking rings, gas lines, or vents, which is a clear advantage. But it heats up far less quickly than a commercial gas wok stove. It relies on induction technology for heating, which determines that it will automatically suspend heating when the pot is thrown (maximum induction height ≤ 15cm). This is a fatal disadvantage for Cantonese cuisine.
Commercial Gas Wok Cookers are Included in the Banned List
When the environmental protection department came into my restaurant again and asked me to show the gas safety certificate, I felt a little anxious. They told me that the government is planning to make public places without open flames, after many gas explosions. This is a regulation that many countries are implementing, such as China, and Europe; they only allow commercial electric or induction stoves to be used in shopping malls, and commercial gas stoves are included in the banned list. I don’t have much opinion on this, my restaurants are independent from malls or public places.
Automatic Wok Cooker - Solve the Rising Salary and Lack of Staff
My only anxiety is the difficulty in recruiting waiters and cooks, after inflation and the Russo-Ukrainian war. Even if I offer a salary that is one-third higher than in the past, no one cares. Due to the lack of staff, I have abandoned many orders, which is an unbearable loss. When I saw the automatic wok cooker stir-frying noodles or rice at Panda Express, I thought of a way to save my restaurant.
My friend is optimistic about the lack of labor, he believes that after inflation and the Russo-Ukrainian war, chefs will return to his restaurant. I am not optimistic about this, the rising salary and lack of staff is an irreversible trend. Now may be the best situation for the next 10 years. But I think an automatic cooking machine would be more trustworthy than a chef – it’s just a cooking machine that does exactly what I command it to do, even if it breaks, and costs less than a third of a chef’s salary.
Automatic Wok Cooker – A new type of Cooking Equipment
However, I have concerns about automatic wok cookers. For me, this is a new type of cooking equipment that I have never seen or used. If there are chefs already using the automatic fryer in a restaurant near me, it will increase my confidence in it. When I saw the automatic wok cooker stir-fry noodles at Panda Express and tasted the food it made, I didn’t find any difference from professional chefs.
The selection of Panda Express Chinese Restaurant
I remember that on Youtube, a chef filmed the cooking process of the automatic wok cooker. In this video, you can see the 2 to 4-stirring blades of the automatic wok cooker fully mix the sauce into the noodles and keep stirring to ensure that every food molecule is fully heated. In my opinion, this is not admirable, most chefs can pull off this action. I am amazed that the automatic wok cooker reproduces the “Wok Hei” of a commercial gas wok.
Add automatic wok cooker to restaurant
This is something I didn’t expect from the automatic wok cooker, and after seeing its capabilities, I decided to add it to my restaurant. I believe it will help me save more orders and save more staff. But I didn’t expect something to happen that overwhelmed me after deciding to buy the automatic wok cooker. In the United States or European, when most restaurants buy cooking equipment, they require it to have a URL, ETL, or CE certificate—these are safety certificates recognized by the government.
Certificate & Live Video – Automatic wok cooker
But this is not a difficult problem to solve, many Chinese automatic wok cooker manufacturers have obtained product safety certificates. I once asked my friend to inspect the ability of an automatic wok cooker in a Chinese factory to make my purchase decision more convincing. Later, I found out that this is unnecessary, and many Chinese manufacturers provide online video, product live broadcast, and real-time connection services for their customers.
Induction VS Gas, Who’s the winner?
In catalogs of automatic wok cookers from manufacturers, I see both induction heating and gas heating types. Apparently, an induction cooker is $200 more expensive than a gas one. The manufacturer explained that this is because the induction automatic cooking machine is equipped with copper coil, Germany Infineon IGBT, and an electric motor. I was optimistic about this and chose the induction automatic cooking machine, which is an induction heating mode that I never agreed with.
Both amazing abilities – Gas VS Induction
I was nervous and anxious when I got the automatic wok cooker in the delivery. After a while, it’s commendable for its ability to automatically cook large batches of food, keep the kitchen cool, and otherwise, it’s on par with a gas wok. I still have a commercial gas wok in my restaurant, but I wouldn’t say no to a commercial induction wok cooker in my kitchen. They both have an amazing ability to cook food, especially the automatic wok cooker. If you are planning to buy an automatic wok cooker, please go to Panda Express or other restaurants to see its cooking process, it will be beneficial to your purchase.