Even though NE 23rd Street is one of the most historical streets in Oklahoma City, many locals tend to forget that it’s also home to some of the most grassroots and homegrown eateries in town, the best having a specific focus on soul food, barbecue and old-fashioned Southern cooking. NE 23rd Street restaurants are OKC’s culinary history all in a few blocks and really should be revered as such.
Winning big can be hungry, thirsty work. We scoured Oklahoma’s casinos for your best bets on sustenance whether you are on a winning streak, holding, folding, walking away, running, or just down to your last five bucks.
In the Raw Sushi
200 S. Oklahoma
What works: ahi tuna nachos and affordable specialty rolls
What needs work: Non-sushi items need a little more thought.
Tip: Park in the lot on the other side of the building or across the street.
Lately, I’ve been getting fish-drunk at In the Raw in Bricktown. I might have a fish problem. Anybody up for a fishervention?
Look, it’s hard to say no when you’re handed that menu. Even things that sound awful turn out to be great, like the ahi tuna nachos ($15). In the wrong hands, this would just be a pile of chips with raw tuna on top.
Instead, these are thoughtfully crafted little taste bombs with flavor shrapnel galore. Rather than tortilla chips, In the Raw uses fried wonton wrappers, topped with avocado, mozzarella, seared ahi tuna and a little Sriracha and Japenese mayo on top.
I was less taken with the fried pork gyoza ($7 for six). The flavor was OK, but the texture of the meat was a little too rubbery. Similarly, the miso soup ($2.50) seemed to lack punch, although I appreciate In the Raw’s new take on the old standby, with plenty of mushrooms in each bowl.
But gyoza and soup are just appetizers. The main course is the sushi. And while In the Raw had a rocky beginning, these days it’s bringing quality service and food.
If you go at lunch, the menu offers five specialty rolls for $8 each. If you’re the kind of person who gets a single roll and calls it a day, that’s a heck of a deal. (If you’re the kind of person who gets three rolls and a couple orders of nigiri after some tuna nachos, congratulations on being me.)
It’s more expensive, but I highly enjoyed the Id Roll ($15), which combines crab cake, avocado and cream cheese with chopped scallions and seared tuna.
Simpler (and cheaper) is the Rock ’n’ Roll ($8.50), which is mostly an eel delivery system. If you just said “ew” at the thought of eating eel, I’m going to assume you’ve never had sushi before. Go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done.
I don’t always like fried stuff in my sushi, but the Dunwell Roll ($8.50) doesn’t go overboard. There’s fried shrimp in the center with strips of jalapeño and cream cheese, and it tastes so good. The jalapeño isn’t so much about packing heat as bringing a fresh, grassy flavor and satisfying crispness.
I always get mackerel nigiri ($3.50), because I love it. And I love what I got at In the Raw: a nice cut, fresh, flavorful and light. And try the saltwater eel nigiri ($5.75) while you’re at it. Not as sweet as the mackerel, but tender and tasty, nonetheless.
Don’t like sushi? There’s something wrong with you. But In the Raw is sensitive to your bizarre sensibilities, offering wraps and rice bowls. The Veggie Wrap ($8.50) is nice, with hummus, asparagus, cucumber, mushrooms, avocado, tomato and onion all wrapped in a tortilla; I wish the tortilla had been heated up first, so it would be less liable to break.
The chicken teriyaki bowl ($10) was pretty good, too, but I’d order it sans pineapple. If you go with the four-sauce option (add $1), ask for it on the side, so you can blend it to your tastes.
Bricktown has great pizza, burgers, steaks, Mexican fare and seafood. And now that In the Raw has upped its game, the neighborhood can claim top-notch sushi.
Enjoy the view. Enjoy the service. But most of all, get lots of sushi. Just beware the fish hangover.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.