Asian persuasion 

Plated food isn’t always the focus when you enter a restaurant, but at this one, the decorations are sparse and the food is the real draw. The first time I walked into Golden Phoenix, I looked to my left and saw something pretty special: Poultry and pigs that had been roasted were hanging inside a lighted glass case. I immediately thought, “Am I really in OKC?” The display is meant to coax people into ordering succulent whole chickens, crispy whole duck and duck beaks (which people have purchased for family picnics). There is even a whole pig, minus Piggy’s head and the tail, of course. Nearby are swimming fish, also available by the pound.

My next glance was to the right, and I spied some of the best chefs in town dining there. These guys and gals know what’s good. The place is packed with Asian families surrounded by children and their siblings dining together. With reliable, large portions and low prices, you can afford to take a chance on anything on the menu, which is written in three languages (including English).

All Asian food is not created equal, and the recipes at Golden Phoenix are quite good. Over my triple visits, I savored the freshness in its nicely seasoned lemongrass chicken ($8.95), shrimp spring rolls ($2.95) and noodle soups ($4.95 to $18.95).

Its menu highlights family meals all the way up to $99.95 for a dinner for eight. There is also a bit of a splurge for a family of 10 for $149.95 offering among the more indulgent selections of crab meat, rare abalone, scallops, squid and a steamed whole flounder. Its intensely flavored Asian sauces add a nice touch to a straightforward grilled seafood or piece of meat.

Golden Phoenix offers some of the best bargains around town. One such is the seven-course beef meal ($12.95 per person). You cannot order this for a single person, so bring along your BFF.

My friend and I opened by nibbling on a beef salad, then moved to beef fondue with a special vinegar sauce. That was followed by ground beef seasoned and then grilled; beef wrapped in Hawaiian leaf; sautéed beef; and steamed beef. Whew! The last course was a special beef rice soup, actually a steaming bowl of congee topped with scallions, which is a gruel of boiled rice and water that is popular in China when eaten for breakfast. Our orders came with salad, mint leaves, cilantro,  vermicelli noodles, cucumber, special sauces and rice papers.

weren’t intimidated at all to order that massive beef meal. The food was
very approachable, with just the right balance of flavors, and I
especially enjoyed being in on the cooking, too. We began by cooking our
rice papers in the water on top of the propane stove placed at our
table. We took care to watch the rice papers soften, but not too much,
as there is a possibility of them simply dissolving away. Using the
nowready rice papers, we constructed our own spring rolls with the
sliced beef and herbs and added sauces with flavors that were clean and

Golden Phoenix offers some of the best bargains in town. Bring along your BFF.

Along with the food, we both enjoyed
the Asian drinks ($2.50), especially the refreshing salty plum soda and
the three-color bean drink ($2.50).

the years, this particular restaurant has built on its success by
responding to what its customers want. When its hardworking chefs get
caught up, you might see them come out front and take a quick breather
watching their customers eat, while keeping their fingers on the pulse.

out on a gustatory limb, I have noticed consistency each time I’ve
dined, and Golden Phoenix has earned a good reputation. They have the
old standbys, and yet traditional tastes remain intact with dishes such
as barbecue and steamed rice dishes.

as Kim Phung in Vietnamese, Golden Phoenix somewhat reminded me of
restaurants that I have visited in San Francisco, Seattle or on the East
Coast in districts known to locals simply as “Chinatown.” With helpful
and friendly service, Golden Phoenix continues to excite.

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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