Family Pho–Oklahoma City, OK

Family Pho
13325 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 470-0648
Family Pho

Family Pho


Family Pho is a small family run Vietnamese restaurant in a strip shopping center that is really not typical of other such restaurants. They do not serve the pseudo Chinese food found in most strip mall restaurants (the food here is strictly Vietnamese). The flavors are authentic (as far as I can tell), and the menu is closer to the restaurants in the Asian District than to other strip mall restaurants. They definitely do not have all the menu items served in the larger Asian District restaurants, but the pho selections are very good, as are the rice and vermicelli dish choices.

I am encouraged about this type of restaurant because the clientele is overwhelming non-Vietnamese, yet the menu is easy to navigate for both those who are Vietnamese food experts and those who really do not have much knowledge about it. My advice to first time diners would probably be to try the pho–not only because this is the restaurant’s specialty but also because I think this restaurant has a very good version of it.

Those who want authentic Vietnamese flavors will find it here, I believe, but the choices are more limited than in the Asian District.

Pho

Chicken pho

Chicken pho

So far I have only tried the Pho Ga, or the chicken version (chicken breast meat in a chicken broth). This is not a slap at the other types of soup at Family Pho, it is because I find the chicken pho disappointing at many restaurants and I am very glad to find one that is good. The flavor is quite good, but probably more important to me is the fact that the restaurant does not use MSG (which leaves me free from worry about how I am going to feel after the meal).

The chicken pho has a chicken broth and white meat chicken as the main soup ingredient. Other types of non-beef soup are also available, including vegetarian, shrimp, and seafood.

They told me that one of the “secret” ingredients in the soup that makes it so good is cinnamon, although it is not obvious when tasting it, and this is just one of the ingredients used to make the flavors balanced.

Vermicelli Bowl

Lemongrass chicken

Lemongrass chicken vermicelli bowl

There are not many suburban restaurants that have a Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl, but Family Pho has it (as well as lemongrass beef). This is also one of my favorite items here, although it did have the shortcoming of not having mint as one of the ingredients. The rest of it, though, is good enough for it to say on my “want to order” list.

Banh Mi

Banh mi

Banh mi

Although I did not order the sandwich myself, I have a photo of it as well as a recommendation to order it.

Recommendations
My personal preference here is the pho because it is quite good, the regular (small) bowl is more than filling, it is less expensive than the lemongrass vermicelli bowls, and this is one of the few restaurants where the pho does not have MSG. I certainly like the vermicelli bowl, but when it comes to ordering something that is better than at other restaurants I think it is the pho.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Sep. 8, 2017
Number of Visits: 5
Best Item: Chicken Pho

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (bags), Thai Tea, Milk Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pho Ga (Chicken)
star 5 Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl

 

Menu (Jul. 2017):

 

Zarate’s–Edmond, OK

Zarate’s Latin Mexican Grill
706 S. Broadway
Edmond, OK
(405) 330-6400
Zarate's Restaurant

Zarate’s in Edmond


The cuisine at Zarate’s covers just about every country from Latin America, including South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are represented by one or two dishes, but the greatest variety is found for Mexican and Peruvian food. Flags of various countries are placed on the menu next to each dish to indicate its country of origin, and I thought it was quite interesting to have so many types of food available in one place.

The Peruvian dishes are from the owner’s homeland, so this seemed like a good bet for trying something “authentic” (or at least that the chefs had a lot of experience preparing). I suspect that dishes from many other countries were probably equally authentic, since food and recipes tend to migrate to nearby countries in Latin America just as they do from state to state in the U.S., and from Mexico to this country.

The Mexican items on the menu, by contrast, seemed to be the type of Tex-Mex dishes served in many Oklahoma and Texas restaurants, but which do not typically represent traditional style Mexican food. The Mexican food I tried was good (and was Tex-Mex style), but dishes from the other countries seemed more special because they are items that are not served in many restaurants.

The main choice for Peruvian dishes seemed to be between ceviche (made with fish or seafood) and the meat, seafood, or vegetable platters. Ceviche is generally considered the “national dish” of Peru, but takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare, according to the menu.

Pollo Saltado

Pollo saltado

Pollo saltado

I think the dish I have enjoyed the most has been the Pollo Saltado, a flavorful roasted chicken that was not spicy, but was topped with vegetables and garnishes. I thought this was a very good introduction to South American food, provided one is hungry for meat (two vegetarian versions are also available: one with spinach and one with spinach and linguini). The saltado dish is also available with seafood or beef. The chicken was good, though, and I thought was one of the better versions of chicken I have had in the OKC area.

The Peruvian dishes come with side dishes that are typical of the country. Standard on each dish are fried plantains and yuca. Sliced tomatoes and onions provide added flavor.

Pollo saltado with yellow sauce

Pollo saltado with aji

The former version of this dish came with yellow aji amarillo sauce and brown rice. The restaurant told me that the aji sauce is no longer available, but I think it would be a definite improvement if they brought it back.

Caribbean Food

Jamaican jerk chicken

Jamaican jerk chicken

One that I wanted to try (and was recommended by the waiter) was Jamaican Curry Chicken, and I can assume this is one of Zarate’s specialties. This was sauteed chicken with potatoes, and a Caribbean style curry sauce. I cannot judge how authentic it was, but it was good. However, I did not think it was quite as spectacular as I have heard that some Jamaican dishes can be.

Brazilian Food

Feijoada

Feijoada

Zarate’s also offers Feijoada, the “national dish” from Brazil made of black beans with ham, ground pork, and pulled pork. I thought this had a good flavor but certainly not a vibrant flavor, and did not seem to match the type of Brazilian food I have had at Cafe do Brasil in downtown Oklahoma City. Still, it left me wanting to try more of the different national dishes from Central and South American offered at Zarate’s.

Mexican Food
Chips and salsa come with every meal (at least on the dinners), and I thought they were good. The special spicy salsa I once got on request, though, was even better. The Rice was quite surprising, with a tomato flavor that reminded me of the good versions served in El Paso (it was surprising because I usually do not find this in Oklahoma).

A Chile Relleno I sampled was also quite good, although since I judge all of these chiles by the ones in New Mexico I only gave it four stars out of five.

Some Other Notes
Zarate’s has a lunch menu that comes at substantially reduced prices, but the tradeoff is that not all dishes are available (including the pollo saltado). I cannot speak for the other dinners, but I thought the pollo saltado was very good, and probably provided a better value than many of the lunches even though you have to pay more for it.

Zarate’s has several Peruvian dishes, but it is not a Peruvian restaurant. It does not serve chicha morada, and no longer has aji sauce. The menu is mostly Mexican and a variety of “national dishes” from various Latin American countries. Still, I have found the pollo saltado to be better than at some of the full fledged Peruvian restaurants I have tried, and I would probably say Zarate’s is the best Peruvian restaurant in town (in fact I would definitely say this, but it is subject to making other discoveries at the other restaurants).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Peruvian, Mexican, Latin American
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Margaritas

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 11, 2017

Number of Visits: 4

Best Items: Pollo Saltado, Plantains, Mexican Style Rice

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pollo Saltado
star 4 Jamaican Jerk Chicken
star 4 Feijoada
star 4 Chile Relleno
star 4 Quesadilla
star 5 Rice (Mexican)
star 5 Plantains
star 4 Chips
star 3 Salsa
star 4 Salsa (Spicy)
star 3 Queso

Brown’s Bakery–Oklahoma City, OK

Brown’s Bakery
1100 N. Walker Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 232-0363
Brown's Bakery

Brown’s Bakery


Brown’s Bakery is one of the few food establishments in Oklahoma City that is older than I am, but it also has a special significance to me in that it was the source of most of my birthday cakes while growing up. Just because it is old does not make it good, but I believe the fact it is so good is what has kept it around for so long.

Brown’s is located in the heart of Midtown, and the fact that it has its own parking lot means it is one of the few places you can find parking when you go there. Of course it is for takeout only unless you consider donuts as being a good breakfast, but still I think this is important because it pretty much ensures the bakery’s survival in an otherwise evolving neighborhood.

The Displays

Brown's Bakery display

One of the displays at Brown’s Bakery

The overwhelming feeling I got upon entering the store was its sheer size and the variety of baked goods sold. In square feet and amount of display cases it dwarfs other bakeries such as Ingrid’s and La Baguette. I am not saying that any of these bakeries is better overall than the others, but Brown’s does hold the edge on the variety of items and the number of choices you have.

Shown here are the number of pastries they still had at noon, but several empty spaces indicate items that had been sold out, and other displays not shown in this picture have other types of pastries.

My Sample Package

Assorted Items

An assortment of items from Brown’s Bakery

This box contains what I took home to sample, and I can assure readers it was a hard choice being able to narrow it down to these items. Shown here from left to right are the Traditional Cinnamon Roll, Peach Danish, Applesauce Doughnuts (4 so that I would have enough), Peanut Butter Cookies, Lemon Cupcakes, and a paper plate inserted so the items would not slide around in the box. Not included this time was a birthday cake like I used to enjoy when I was young, but perhaps at some time I can report on this also.

An Assessment
I honestly put these items into two categories: (1) absolutely amazing that you must try, and (2) very good but about the same as you can get at other bakeries.

Foremost on the list was the Peach Danish, which I thought was one of the best I have ever had. To me this is a must try.

The Lemon Cupcakes were also quite exceptional, although they are so sweet a little bit goes a long way (I’m glad I was able to share them).

One of my personal favorites was the Applesauce Doughnut. They tasted like these doughnuts should, and from that standpoint are not “must try” standouts. Compared to many I have tried in Oklahoma City, though, I thought they were a standout.

In the “comparable to other bakeries” category I would put the Peanut Butter Cookies and the Cinnamon Roll. I cannot state a reason for this, only that this was the way they tasted to me.


RATING: N/R

Cuisine: Bakery
Cost: $
Hours: N/A
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: N/A

Best Item: Peach Danish

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Peach Danish
star 5 Lemon Cupcakes
star 5 Applesauce Doughnuts
star 5 Peanut Butter Cookies