Camilya’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Camilya’s Mediterranean Cafe
10942 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 418-4141
Camilya's

Camilya’s


Camilya got this restaurant off to a very good start by serving fresh, home cooked style food in a small cafe style setting that did not make customers pay high prices. In 2010 the current owners took over the restaurant, continuing the same type of food that Camilya cooked (since that time some of the family members opened Jerusalem Restaurant in Edmond which is excellent as well and serves the same type of food).

Camilya’s is rather inconspicuous, being a small restaurant in a strip shopping center in the north part of Oklahoma City. Food is cooked on a grill in view of the dining room, and the small scale on which food is prepared is a main reason for its high quality. Even though there are less than a dozen tables in the dining room I have never seen it so full that people had to wait for a table. Those who do eat here, though, seem to appreciate the good quality of the food served in this true “family restaurant.”

Normally when a restaurant changes owners I have to start over in writing descriptions of the food, but in this case there have been few differences from before. The veggie sampler plate has different items than before, several new menu items have been added, and the plates have become more colorful so that I can now take more interesting photographs. I have upgraded the ratings of some of the dishes, but I do not think there are any that needed to be downgraded. I think the “new” Camilya’s is very much like the old one, only better. Technically the original Camilya’s was Syrian cuisine and now it is Jordanian/Palestinian, but I have a very hard time distinguishing the differences between them.

Salads
Several salads are available, served in both small and large portions. Small salads come with many of the dinners, and these can be upgraded for an extra charge. If I have a large enough appetite I think it is worth ordering the fatoosh or Greek salad.

Fatoosh salad

Fatoosh salad

The Fatoosh Salad was one of the freshest and best I have had anywhere. The portions of lettuce and other ingredients were not huge, but the quality was very good.

The Greek Salad came with a very good dressing, and the olives and feta were highlights of the salad.

House salad

House salad

Soups

Lentil soup

Lentil soup

Lentil Soup is apparently a new item that was added in 2010, and it was excellent. This was a home made soup made from yellow lentils, and with a generous amount of vegetables included. This was a smoother soup than others in the city, with the lentils being puréed to the point that round beans were not noticeable. I enjoyed the flavor, the texture, and the inexpensive price of the soup.

Kabobs

Tawook and keftah skewers

Combo dinner with tawook and keftah skewers

The chicken and beef skewers were every bit as good as I had expected, having been referred to Camilya’s in the first place by family members who have too limited a budget to waste it eating out on food that is not truly worthwhile. The Keftah Skewer was made with ground black angus beef seasoned with what is probably a family recipe. I thought it was well prepared, and had especially good spices.

The Tawook Skewer was made with flavorful chicken and similar spices as the keftah skewer. I have gone back and forth on different visits trying to decide whether the chicken or beef was better, but I can definitely say that both are good. I also fall on the side of ordering the chicken because the one here seems better to me than the ones at any other restaurant (while the beef at several restaurants is comparable).

Plates

Gyros

Gyros plate

I would rate the Gyros as one of the best items served at Camilya’s, and it has a flavor that is quite different from many of the small gyros restaurants and take-out places in the city. The meat was tender, flavorful, and definitely high quality. Gyros comes in a sandwich, or the Gyros Plate which comes with a salad.

The bed of Vermicelli Rice on the gyros plate and other dinners is excellent. Hashwa can be substituted for the rice, but most of the time I think the rice is just as satisfying.

Beef shawerma and chicken tawook

Beef shawerma and chicken tawook on the combo plate

Beef Shawerma is the “Mediterranean version of fajita,” according to the menu, and I also thought this was quite good. Made with tenderloin steak, tomatoes, and onions, it provides a different type of beef than the keftah skewer, but I thought the meat was of equal quality. The shawerma normally comes in a sandwich, but it can also be served on a platter if requested.

Sandwiches

Falafel sandwich

Falafel sandwich

Vegetarian items are usually the weak point of Middle Eastern restaurants, but it is not so at Camilya’s. The Falafel has been quite good, and I think this is one of the hardest vegetarian dishes to get right. The key to falafel seems to be preparing it fresh and not making it too greasy. Camilya’s hit the mark on both of these. I have tried the falafel on more than one visit, and it has always been moist with good spices. The pita was very good as well.

Lamb kabob sandwich

Lamb kabob sandwich

A Lamb Kabob Sandwich has recently been added to the menu, while a larger lamb shank dinner is also available. The sandwich is one of my favorites at Camilya’s, and the best feature is that this is one of the most inexpensive places in the city to order lamb.

Appetizers

Camilya's sampler

Camilya’s sampler with baba ghanouj, falafel, hummus, and grape leaves

Falafel is also served on Camilya’s Sampler plate, an appetizer combination plate containing four vegetarian items. The Hummus was very good, and I think has improved since Camilya served it. The Baba Ghanouj was less flavorful than the hummus, but this is true for me at just about all Middle Eastern restaurants. The Grape Leaves were also excellent.

A falafel platter is available from the Appetizers menu, and is probably too small of a portion to make a meal but can be combined with other appetizers for a filling dinner.

Tabouleh was one of the best vegetable items I have tasted, and as far as I am concerned would always make a good choice. I thought the tabouleh had a strong taste of olive oil, and all ingredients were fresh and good.

Spinach pies

Spinach pies

Spinach Pies are available on Camilya’s sampler, or they can be ordered separately. I was very impressed because the outer dough tasted fresh and did not seem as if it had been frozen (this is a common problem I find at other restaurants). The inside was excellent as well, and I really think this is the best place in Oklahoma City to get spinach pies.

Labaneh

Labaneh

Labaneh, a yogurt dish made with goat’s milk, has been pretty bland and boring many times I have tried it, but Camilya’s makes an extremely good version because of the olive oil dip along with the oregano, thyme, and sesame mix that gives it quite a zesty flavor. In fact, this makes an excellent alternative to any of the salads on the menu (and the labaneh also comes with its own salad).

Side Orders

Hashwa

Hashwa

The Hashwa rice cooked with black angus beef, pine nuts, and almonds makes an excellent dish by itself, or can be ordered as an upgrade to the rice on the dinner plates.

Mojaderah is a vegetarian version of hashwa, made with lentils and steamed rice. This started out as a special but is now on the menu.

Special Menu

Gyros omelette

Gyros omelette

Camilya’s has added a special menu of breakfast items, including the Gyros Omelette. The owners explained that some of the employees used to work at IHOP, so they started preparing omelettes to be served at Camilya’s.

Desserts

Baklava

Baklava

It is hard to resist the Baklava for dessert, since I think this is the best in the city (but other places make baklava that is close). Other more exotic desserts including layali lubnan and kunafa used to be listed on the menu but are no longer included (I am not sure if these are still available from time to time or by special order).

Additional Comments

The Hot Tea is a brewed masala tea that has had a very good flavor, and I think this type of tea goes perfectly with Middle Eastern food. For those who remember the special Middle Eastern style tea served in a pot (shown in the photo of the falafel sandwich), this is no longer served. I do like the masala tea, though.

I have seen Turkish coffee and strawberry banana juice on the menu, but the take-out menu (shown at the bottom of the page) does not list the drinks so I am not sure what is available at the moment.

Apart from the quality of the food, the thing that is impressive about Camilya’s is that it is really like entering a restaurant in the Middle East, with few if any compromises made to change the food for American tastes. In fact, because it seems to be more authentic than many restaurants I think this makes it better. Camilya’s has gyros (normally considered a Greek dish), but the meat is different here than other places, and they cook it in house. Even dishes that do not look as if they would be especially good turn out to be much better than I expected.

For many items Camilya’s is better than any other Middle Eastern restaurants I have tried in the city, but this is not true across the board. The previous cook at Camilya’s opened Jerusalem in Edmond, and I have to say that this is one restaurant that is comparable to Camilya’s in terms of the food. Other restaurants, such as Nunu’s, are better at certain items. I continue to be impressed, though, by the overall quality at Camilya’s.

Camilya’s has not had take home menus for a while so I am including the latest one I have.

I have conflicting information about the hours–recently they were open on Sunday but I am not sure if this is still the case (for a while they were open Sunday for lunch only).

I do not believe there is a charge for you to bring your own wine.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Bring your own wine

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 20, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Tawook Skewer, Keftah Skewer, Gyros, Lamb Kabob, Fatoosh Salad, Greek Salad, Labaneh, Spinach Pie, Mojaderah, Hashwa, Baklava

Special Ratings
star 5 Tawook Skewer
star 5 Keftah Skewer
star 5 Beef Shawerma
star 5 Chicken Shawerma
star 5 Lamb Kabob
star 5 Hashwa
star 5 Mojaderah
star 5 Labaneh
star 5 Spinach Pie
star 5 Hummus
star 5 Grape Leaves
star 5 Lentil Soup
star 4 Falafel
star 4 Tabouleh
star 4 Cabbage Rolls
star 4 Baba Ghanouj
star 5 Fatoosh Salad
star 5 Greek Salad
star 5 Vermicelli Rice
star 5 Pita
star 5 Baklava

Menu (Aug. 2015):

 

Bistro 38–Oklahoma City, OK

Bistro 38 Thai Green Cuisine
2903 N.W. 36th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 948-2788
Bistro 38

Bistro 38


Bistro 38 Thai Green Cuisine is not the first Thai restaurant to operate in this location, and I believe the change occurred in 2014. The previous restaurant was owned by Sala Thai, although it was apparently operated independently. Bistro 38 is still the same kind of small family run restaurant that I believe was here before, and I think this is a big reason for the positive reviews I have read for both restaurants.

Most of the dine-in customers seem to come at lunch, and otherwise it relies largely on take-out orders. I experienced a comfortable dining room, the music was enjoyable, and the service was good. The menu was not huge but it looked as if it had several good choices. Outwardly it was very much like the typical strip mall Thai restaurants I find around the city.

Lunch Specials

Lunch combo

Lunch combo with Panang curry and veggie pad thai

Although the dinner menu is priced well compared to other Thai restaurants, lunch is even more of a bargain. Lunch Specials give you one item (noodles or fried rice) while the Lunch Combo gives you four (the main item which is either curry or pad basil, veggie pad thai, steamed rice, and a veggie spring roll). The menu says no substitutions are allowed, but they did let me get a double portion of the pad thai and delete the spring roll (I am mentioning this mainly to explain why the photo above includes an extra large serving of pad thai).

The choices on the Lunch Combo are good: the Panang Curry is one that I liked and my waitress said was one of the best choices. I definitely had a “happy meal” with this selection (to borrow a phrase I frequently see at Japanese restaurants).

Pad Prik King

Pad prik king

Pad prik king

The Pad Prik King had a good sauce (curry without the coconut milk), crispy green beans, and tofu with a good texture (I ordered the vegetarian version). I found this version to be similar to the ones at several other restaurants (and this is a good thing). The dish was made the right way, and I did not have any complaints.

I did learn, though, not to be timid about the spice scale here (they have a one to four “level of spiciness” and I think about two and a half is the minimum I want to order on this type of dish–this would be equivalent to about two at most other restaurants).

Pad Prik King

Ginger tofu

Ginger stir-fried with tofu

Ginger Tofu is one of my favorite Thai dishes, and one of my yardsticks by which I measure a restaurant. This one was very fresh and had high quality ingredients. One surprising feature (compared to many other restaurants) is that the vegetables were enjoyable in themselves. Most ginger tofu dishes have a substantial amount of onions with a small amount of other vegetables, but with this one was full of red peppers, green vegetables, baby corn, etc.

The thing that detracted from the ginger stir-fry, though, was the sauce. I thought it was too sweet, unlike the pad prik king and the curry I have tried. The dish was good in spite of this because of the tofu and the vegetables which were really very impressive (and of course the ginger).

Pad See Ew
I had a sample of the Pad See Ew, a noodle dish with chicken and broccoli. I thought the chicken was very good, the broccoli was crispy (not quite as good a thing to me as the green beans being prepared this way), and the noodles were good. Overall the dish did not seem to have much flavor, though. This was much the same as I have found at most Thai restaurants, but I keep looking for the few who can make noodle dishes more flavorful. They will give you fish sauce for additional flavor, and this certainly helps. Still, although it was good, this was not a five-star dish for me.

Thai Tea

Thai tea

Thai tea

The Thai Tea was very good. The fact that it was milky on top and dark at the bottom was also a good sign that this drink is legit.

Desserts

Green tea ice cream

Green tea ice cream

Bistro 38 has a good Green Tea Ice Cream for dessert (and I enjoyed it more because the food itself was not too sweet). Also this is one of the restaurants where I do not spend all my money on a meal (I can say, though, that the meals are pretty filling).

Recommendations
Pad prik king is usually a “yardstick” dish for me, and I thought it was done the right way. The Panang curry was equally impressive in the way they prepared it. I would order the ginger tofu again despite the sauce being sweet. The pad see ew and the pad thai seemed lacking in Thai flavors, though.

When I have asked the waitresses about the best dishes, though, they have been very honest and accurate in their answers. I think most restaurants tend to stand or fall on their best dishes, and here it is easy to find out what they are.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Oct. 2, 2018
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Panang Curry, Pad Prik King

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Thai Tea
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Panang Curry
star 5 Pad Prik King
star 4 Ginger Tofu
star 4 Pad See Ew
star 4 Veggie Pad Thai
star 5 Green Tea Ice Cream
star 5 Thai Tea

 

Menu (Feb. 2017):

 

Ding–Bethany, OK

Ding Asian Fusion
6400 N.W. 39th Expressway
Bethany, OK
(405) 603-8858
Ding Asian Fusion

Ding Asian Fusion in Bethany


Ding Asian Fusion has been in operation since the summer of 2016, but in this time it has already gone through a transformation (and fortunately seems to have survived intact). It started out as the latest venture of Szechuan Bistro, a popular Chinese restaurant on Memorial Road near Edmond. It so happened, though, that while visiting Szechuan Bistro in 2018 I talked to the man who I learned was the “former” manager at Ding, and learned that their former satellite restaurant was now independent and had new owners. This put into perspective, though, a visit I made to Ding a short time earlier where Ding seemed to be in a parallel time line–most things were as I thought they should be, but certain details were “off” (such as the expressions on employees’ faces when I asked them questions about Szechuan Bistro thinking that this was still their parent restaurant).

I should point out that being an offshoot of Szechuan Bistro gave immediate credibility to the food here, and I was happy to have the same food in a different location. It was not exactly the same in the sense that Ding made the default spiciness at a lower level than the same dishes would be at Szechuan Bistro if you just ordered from the menu and did not specify a spice level. In addition there was a list of more authentic “whiteboard specials” from Szechuan Bistro that they eventually incorporated into the regular menu while Ding never offered them on either the menu or as a special.

Ding's interior

Ding’s comfortable dining room

Ding was more of a “fusion” concept, serving sushi and Thai fried rice (I do not know if these are still available). The menu items I saw at Ding in 2018 still looked much like the ones at Szechuan Bistro, with mostly Sichuan style dishes along with a few that are definitely more “safe” for some people (chow mein, moo goo gai pan, etc.). A synopsis of this is that the Ding menu of 2018 was still very similar to the Szechuan Bistro of two years previous, but in that time Szechuan Bistro has expanded their choices to include many items which used to be listed as whiteboard specials.

The ambiance at Ding follows Szechuan Bistro’s upscale concept, prices are good, and lunch specials come with soup and rice (the hot and sour soup here is definitely among the best in OKC). When I ate here in 2018 I still thought I was eating at a Szechuan Bistro restaurant, based on the flavor of the food. I think Ding has a good beginning which they are continuing with new owners and mangers, but it is essentially the same food.

Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce
I believe the main difference between Szechuan Bistro and Ding is that the latter has a more limited choice of items that I consider to have an authentic flavor. I used my past experience, though, to order the Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce from the lunch menu on my first visit to Ding.

Shredded pork in garlic sauce

Lunch portion of shredded pork in garlic sauce

This turned out to be a great choice for lunch although at the time garlic was not an issue (I have already determined that I do not want to book a dentist appointment after eating this dish). The sauce was very well balanced and not too sweet. The vegetables were crispy and flavorful, and overall this makes a great lunch for me.

The ironic thing about this dish is that it serves as a replacement for what was my original favorite Chinese dish in Oklahoma City–the shredded pork at Lotus Mandarin (which was located on 38th Street a couple of blocks from where Ding is now located in the adjacent city of Warr Acres). So if there are any other “old timers” out there who enjoyed Lotus Mandarin as I did, I would recommend checking out Ding. (The flavors of Ding really remind me of Lotus Mandarin, except that I think Ding offers a greater variety of authentic Chinese dishes).

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung pao chicken

Lunch portion of kung pao chicken

The Kung Pao Chicken is another excellent choice, and has the authentic flavor without as much garlic (at least I think there is less garlic). The difference here is that it includes chunks of garlic that you can either choose to eat or not. The chicken is white meat, and there is a generous portion of celery and bell peppers, as well as red chiles. The sauce was very flavorful, but I think it was made more so by the fact that I asked for the dish to be made more spicy (the extra spice seemed to add a smoky flavor that made the sauce even more interesting in terms of flavor). The dish itself was not extremely spicy, but this is because I generally refrain from biting in to the red chiles.

I was a little disappointed in the number of peanuts that were included and the fact that it did not have any bamboo shoots, but overall I thought this was an excellent dish with a much better than average flavor. This dish was served after the ownership change at the restaurant, but the flavor seemed like the “old” Ding which was essentially the same as Szechuan Bistro (although less spicy).

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup

This is one of the soup choices available, and is the one I recommend if you like spicy food (although I don’t think the soup here is as spicy as at Szechuan Bistro).

A Note About the Spicy Sichuan Dishes
Ding has chiles on the menu next to spicy items–either one, two, or three chiles. The shredded pork in garlic sauce has one chile, which I found to be barely noticeable on the spice level. This is fine with me, because I liked the dish, but I just want to make the comment that a dish with one chile is barely spicy at all (and many menu items have no chiles).

While I think the flavor of Ding matches Szechuan Bistro, the spice level apparently does not. So far I think the “new” Ding has continued the same food they have had from the beginning, so I continue to be happy that a very good Chinese choice can be found in the Bethany area.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Oct. 24, 2018
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce, Kung Pao Chicken

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine/ Iced Tea
MSG: Yes
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce
star 5 Kung Pao Chicken
star 5 Hot and Sour Soup

 

Menu (Dec. 2016):