Get excited about bok choy at Szechuan Bistro 

click to enlarge Stir-fried Chinese bok choy at Szechuan Bistro in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Stir-fried Chinese bok choy at Szechuan Bistro in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.

Prepare to be excited about bok choy.

Some vegetables are inherently boring — celery, for instance. Even when your mom made ants on a log, you were only there for the peanut butter.

But at the top of the boring vegetable heap, past celery, plain boiled potatoes and old baby carrots, is bok choy. Sometimes called Chinese cabbage, its name in Cantonese literally translates to “white vegetable.”

Snore.

Take a look at the back of Szechuan Bistro’s menu, though, and you’ll find stir-fried Chinese bok choy ($9.75). Peppers and oil swirl around a wok as the tender leaves of the vegetable wilt and the tough base softens.

The result is a delicate flavor with a wealth of heat. I can’t stop ordering it.

Located at 1010 W. Memorial Road, Szechuan Bistro is a Chinese restaurant where you can find veggie fried rice ($7.25), orange chicken ($10.50) and beef and broccoli ($11.45) or you can go to the back of the menu and get really good stuff.

(The orange chicken is good, by the way, but not what I was looking for.)

Skip back to the Chinese specialties, though, and you’ll find so much more to love.

But before the love fest begins, I did not enjoy the dan dan noodles. Swimming in a powerful spicy tomato sauce, these noodles were not what I expected and not something I’ll get again.

That’s fine with me, frankly, because there are lots of things I do want to get again.

I will double-fight — with my fists and my feet — anyone who tries to stop me from ordering double-cooked pork ($11.95). It’s a mix of sweet, spicy pork belly and tender onion slices tossed in a brown sauce so tasty, I considered drinking it.

If pigs knew how good this dish was, they’d be lining up outside butcher shops, demanding to meet their porcine maker.

As an American, I am honor-bound to love things more when they are fried. That includes eggs, Oreos and, of course, fish. And at Szechuan Bistro, you will find few dishes as tasty or as fried as salt-and-pepper sliced fish ($12.95). The crispy seasoned crust gives way to supple, flaky chunks of fish.

Do not feel obligated to eat the peppers that come with the fish. They imparted their flavor and their heat on the dish already; eating them will just set your mouth and innards aflame.

Clay pots are great for all sorts of things: cooking, holding water, displaying erotic Greek art. But mostly the cooking thing, like in the shrimp and eggplant clay pot ($12.95). It’s a classic preparation with jumbo shrimp bulging with juiciness and succulent eggplant waiting to melt on the tongue.

Much as I profess my love for the more “authentic” Chinese dishes, I cannot pretend I didn’t get an egg roll ($1.60) or a cup of egg drop soup ($1.70). I always get those things because I love them unabashedly when they are done well.

And, oh, how well these are done. Crackling, crisp skin on the egg roll reveals a steamy, crunchy wealth of vegetables. And the egg drop soup is rich with perfectly blended yolks and wispy whites.

The cooks at Szechuan Bistro know what they’re doing, which gives you the freedom to explore the menu. Take chances. And if you end up back at orange chicken, well, at least you know it’s good.

 

Print Headline: Choy to the world, Eat your vegetables — or don’t, as Szechuan Bistro offers menu selections to sate almost any appetite.

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