There was a time not too terribly long ago in Oklahoma City when there was a chain on every corner and the closest you could get to local was to make a trip to your farmers market and make the food yourself. We always celebrate all things local, and luckily, it’s getting easier for OKC restaurants to incorporate locally grown, all- natural ingredients into what they offer.
— By Devon Green
photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Football season is finally here! We call it soccer, but that doesn’t have to stop you from indulging in two favorite European traditions: walking and pub crawling. Since the Energy FC games will be alcohol-free, we’ve created a list of pubs and taverns within walking distance from Clement E. Pribil Stadium at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.
— by Devon Green
photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
While the idea of fried dough may or may not be American in origin, the traditional ring-shaped confection that we know and love does originate here. According to The Smithsonian, doughnuts were created by an enterprising New England sailor’s mother who wanted a way to store and transport pastry. Regardless of its origin, the doughnut is a modern favorite.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Thai Thai Asian Bistro boasts a duo of chefs who have been preparing the food of their native Thailand together for a long time. Daughter Koi Strickland and her mother, Samer Charoenpibool, are the core culinary team at this new restaurant that’s already developed a large loyal following.
“I started cooking when I was 7. My family lived in Kanchanaburi. You might know that town because it’s where the bridge on the Kwai River is,” Koi said. “We have a lot of coconut trees where I lived. My mom taught me to use coconut milk making fried rice, first, and then all the curry dishes.”
Thai Thai uses recipes passed down from Charoenpibool’s mother. The family’s history on the same immense rice paddy fields goes back more than 200 years. They raised chickens, and Koi’s father and brothers caught fish in the river using bamboo box traps. The rural tradition of using only the freshest ingredients is continued at Thai Thai.
“We spend a lot of time picking out our fresh vegetables and basil every day,” Koi said. “If they aren’t good, we don’t use them, because we care about the food.”
She considers papaya salad, pictured, ($7.99) to be the dish on their menu most representative of authentic Thai cuisine. Finding the fruit at just the right stage can be a challenge.
“Sometimes the papaya is just too ripe,” Koi said, noting she often hits all the Asian markets in Oklahoma City to find the right ones.
Thai Thai’s selections cast a wide net across the Siamese culinary spectrum. Kao soi ($8.99) is a Northern-prefecture egg-noodle dish in a spicy, yellow curry sauce. Squeezing lime wedges over the bell peppers, bamboo shoots, pickled cabbage, bean sprouts and your choice of beef, chicken, pork or tofu makes it a happy festival in your mouth.
From southern Thailand, they’ve brought Massaman curry ($9.50), a coconut-milk stew flavored with lime leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise. It had big chunks of potato, carrot and peanuts swimming in the delicious broth.
Fresh rolls ($5.99) are almost too pretty to eat. Almost. You can see the colorful red cabbage, carrot and lettuce leaf through translucent rice paper. It’s a salad in a roll, served with sides of chili and house-made peanut sauces.
Vegans should be delighted to learn that all of the many dishes on the menu have a meat-free version.
restaurants in America always have pad Thai ($8.99), and it’s the most
popular item among customers here. Thai Thai’s sauce is a wicked-good
blend of tamarind paste, mild fermented anchovy sauce, brown sugar and
Famous for their flame-thrower curry plates, Thai Thai’s orders use a one-to-five scale of mouth tingle.Many dishes are indicated on the menu with two little peppers, meaning they start out at level 2. I ordered pad kee mao ($8.99), a flat-noodle entree at the No. 5, all-hands-on-deck, “the place is burning down” level, but it didn’t taste any hotter than the level 2 choices. Next time, I’ll make sure they understand I mean Thai-hot, because I’m certain that’s no problem.
Charoenpibool speaks very little English, but I was charmed when she came from the kitchen and said, “I love you.” The family uses the phrase as a generic greeting. She may not really have a crush on all her customers, but you wouldn’t know it from her cooking.
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.
Photos by Mark Hancock