We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Nhinja Sushi & Wok
13905 N. May
What works: fast service, low prices
What needs work: Nhinja Poppers could use more pop.
Tips: Condiments and silverware are not on the table. Go get ’em yourself, lazy bones.
There’s just something happy about Nhinja Sushi & Wok.
Maybe it’s the way the colors of the employees’ T-shirts pop against the clean, white space inside. Maybe it’s the modern design that puts soy sauce, Sriracha and Chinese mustard on display.
In my case, it was the look of joy on my toddler’s face as he slurped up lo mein noodles from a tiny plate and chittered away while Justin Timberlake echoed around the restaurant.
Nhinja is all about quick and inexpensive pan-Asian cuisine — a very family-friendly concept.
It seemed like we’d scarcely sat down before the lo mein ($5.75) arrived. And when you’re dealing with a mercurial 1-year-old, speed counts. I found the dish to be pretty basic, but overall tasty. It’s egg noodles with vegetables and soy sauce. Not groundbreaking, but a tried-and-true crowd-pleaser.
The Mongolian chicken wok ($7.55) was a little sweeter and, with brown rice, felt a bit healthier. It’s the kind of food you’re happy to get when you’re in the mood for Chinese. Lots of crunchy vegetables, plenty of well-cooked rice and nice big chunks of chicken in a sticky sauce.
Speaking of Chinese, have you ever had egg rolls (two for $2.75)? I was pretty pleased with Nhinja’s rendition of the oft-maligned classic. Not overly greasy, but with enough flavor to be eaten alone. That said, I gladly applied the accompanying dipping sauce. Healthy? No. But it made me happy.
The gyoza (four for $3.75) come steamed, fried or pan-fried. We got pan-fried and were happy with the results. These might not hold up to the scrutiny of a dumpling connoisseur, but for the price, I would gladly get them again.
I was less impressed by the Nhinja Poppers (two for $2.25), which are a bit of salmon stuffed in a rice ball, tempura-fried and served with spicy mayo. They weren’t unpleasant, but they paled in comparison to the rest of the meal.
So now we come to the sushi.
Nobody calls it Nhinja Wok or even Nhinja Sushi & Wok. It’s always Nhinja Sushi because, I assume, that’s what people go for. Nhinja does a topnotch job of utility sushi at low prices.
Here, the Philly roll ($4.95) has cucumber instead of asparagus, paired with smoked salmon and cream cheese. The only complaint came from my wife, a Philly roll devotee, who wished they had peeled the cucumber of its tough skin. Otherwise, you pretty much taste fish and cream cheese. It’s a winner.
The JoJo roll ($5.25) included grilled steak with asparagus and teriyaki sauce. I’m generally not a huge proponent of steak (or chicken) in my sushi rolls, but I understand the need. Really, the teriyaki stands out here. If that’s your thing, you’ll probably enjoy this one.
More interesting, at least to me, is the 911 roll ($8.95), which combines yellowtail, tuna and salmon with dynamite sauce. The fresh taste and texture of the fish is set off by the heat of the sauce. Throw in a little wasabi (I always do), and you’ve got a party.
Nhinja serves both sashimi and nigiri — the plain-fish-on-a-ball-of-rice kind of sushi — if that is your preference. I got the tuna nigiri ($4) and it was fine. Honestly, I’d probably go with the specialty rolls here. Lots more flavor for the price.
Nhinja is enjoyable. It’s cheap.
It’s generally tasty. And it’s fast, fast, fast. When I can give my kid a couple of noodles and stop him from inappropriately screaming in the middle of a restaurant, that makes me the happiest of all.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.