Charm Thai–Warr Acres, OK

Charm Thai
5805 N. W. 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 792-2153
Charm Thai

Charm Thai


Charm Thai Cuisine may very well be the best Thai restaurant in the Oklahoma City area. There are certainly some worthy competitors, and other restaurants I have not tried, but I have yet to find anything at Charm Thai that I can really say is disappointing.

At the beginning of 2013 Charm Thai had a change of ownership, and I think the new owners have made a good restaurant even better. Some of the dishes reviewed here were from the “old” restaurant, and I will make note of this, but my opinion is that there was not a drastic change in the restaurant after the ownership change. I think some of the more Americanized dishes were eliminated in 2013, although for the most part I did not notice much change in the items served or the flavors. Most notably there was a dish called pad preaw wan (sweet and sour) which I can no longer find on the menu that might be called a more Americanized dish (but if it is in fact a Thai dish, it is one which the new owners apparently have chosen not to offer).

Charm Thai's dining room

Charm Thai’s dining room

This is a small restaurant that I have seen crowded but never so full that the tables are completely occupied. I expect occasional waits at “mom and pop” restaurants, though, as the tradeoff for the type of home style food they prepare.

Lunch Specials
Lunch specials on Monday through Friday are a “Lunch Combo Menu” which has the same five choices for an entree selection every day (pad thai, spicy basil, vegetables, cashew, or ginger). The type of curry served with it is different every day, and the choice of dumpling or spring roll also changes. You also get a complementary bowl of soup as an appetizer. I generally think the lunches are a very good deal, although it is not as much a matter of saving much money as it is that you get a variety of different items.

Vegetable soup on the lunch special

Vegetable soup and Thai tea

The Vegetable Soup served with the lunch combos is probably my favorite because of its sour flavor component that makes is somewhat like hot and sour soup but without the “hot” part.

Chicken soup

Chicken soup

Chicken Soup is another of the ones served with the lunch combo. This one was good because of the mushrooms that were included.

Pad thai and yellow curry on lunch special

Lunch special with pad thai and yellow curry

Yellow Curry is probably my favorite of the curries served here, and it is included in the lunch combo on Fridays. Surprisingly the curry was less spicy than the soup served on this day (chicken soup) but none of the food served for lunch is “Thai spicy,” and you do not seem to get a choice about how spicy they prepare the lunches (this would be different if you ordered from the regular menu).

The main item (pad thai) is totally optional, and is one of the five entree selections that are available. In addition you can choose the default chicken or get tofu, beef, or shrimp for an extra charge.

I generally consider that Tana Thai has the best Pad Thai in town, and I made a note that the one at Charm Thai was sweeter and had a more complex flavor. This is both good (the complex flavor) and bad (the sweeter flavor) so I am not sure which one is actually better, but I am sure that I like them both.

Ginger chicken and red curry on lunch special

Lunch special with ginger chicken and red curry

The Ginger Chicken for lunch is much like the ginger stir-fry from the regular menu except that it comes non-spicy by default. Chicken is also the default although you can get it with other meats or no meat (tofu) for an extra charge.

Regular Menu

Ginger stir fry with tofu

Ginger stir fry with tofu

The Ginger Stir Fry (pad khing) is always one of my favorite dishes, and the one here lived up to my expectations. The sauce was flavorful and it had a good balance of flavors. The biggest negative of the dish is the vegetables that are included, although it does have some good mushrooms. I would say go ahead and order it–the tofu or meat that comes with it will make it satisfying.

I also prefer the dinner over the lunch version because I can choose a higher spice level (although the time I ordered it for lunch I did not ask if the spice level can be adjusted).

Pad prik khing

Pad prik khing

To me an even better dish is the Pad Prik Khing, usually my yardstick for measuring the food at Thai restaurants. In this case it was very good, with the green beans being fresh and crunchy (and there were a lot of them). The curry paste (curry without the coconut milk) was very flavorful, and this dish definitely had everything I expected.

Curry delight

Curry delight

Curry Delight was a dish from before 2013 that I enjoyed, but not so much that I was disappointed to see it dropped from the menu. It was high in flavor, but I am not sure what type of curry was used (and the current menu has several types of curry).

Sweet and sour

Pad preaw wan (sweet and sour)

Pad Preaw Wan was a Thai style sweet and sour dish from the old menu, and contained both of these flavors (as opposed to the more common sauces which are just sweet). I am not sure whether or not a similar dish is available at present.

Green tea ice cream

Green tea ice cream

Green Tea Ice Cream makes a good aftercourse to a spicy meal, or just a better than average dish of ice cream.

Some Cons and (Mostly) Pros
The menu at Charm Thai is fairly limited, which would be a negative except for the fact that I can always find something I like. The restaurant is small, but I have never been left to wait for a table to become available. Some dishes have smaller than average portion sizes, but this corrects a major flaw I find at many restaurants where they serve oversized plates (and at Charm Thai you might want to order extra rice if the dinners are not filling enough).

My favorite Thai dishes are usually ginger stir-fry and pad prik khing, and at Charm Thai these are both excellent (and perhaps the best in the city).

The restaurant always asks me to choose my own spice level on the dinners. This is probably a positive because the lunches (which have the default level) are mostly not spicy enough for my taste. It is definitely a positive that when I order a certain spice level the food comes out very close to what I had expected.

Of course the main reason to come here is the excellent flavor of the food. I think other Thai restaurants deliver quality food as well, but few are as consistent with all items on the menu as Charm Thai.

The food here is also free from MSG, which contradicts the notion that it should be added as a flavor enhancer (I do not know how the food could be much more flavorful than it is at Charm Thai).


RATING: 25

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

Most Recent Visit: Sep. 19, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Pad Prik Khing, Ginger Stir Fry, Yellow Curry, Thai Tea

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Thai Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pad Prik Khing
star 5 Ginger Stir Fry
star 5 Pad Thai
star 5 Yellow Curry
star 5 Red Curry
star 5 Vegetable Soup (on the lunch combo)
star 5 Chicken Soup (on the lunch combo)
star 5 Green Tea Ice Cream
star 5 Thai Tea

 

Menu (Sep. 2018):

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.

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.

Chicken pho with basil

Chicken pho with basil

Of course I like to add the condiments served on a side dish including the basil and bean sprouts.

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: 24

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

Most Recent Visit: Sep. 6, 2018
Number of Visits: 6
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):

 

Tsubaki Sushi–Oklahoma City, OK

Tsubaki Sushi & Hibachi
5900 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 792-7818
Tsubaki Sushi

Tusbaki Sushi & Hibachi


Tsubaki Sushi & Hibachi is a new member of the growing club of sushi restaurants around northwest Oklahoma City, and two things I noticed immediately about it were its spotless cleanliness and its excellent service. These are characteristics of Japanese restaurants in general, but Tsubaki seems to be better than most.

I have yet to try the sushi, which is about two-thirds of the menu. I am not a fan of California rolls and other items which make up a large part of the sushi list, but they do have a fairly large selection of sashimi. For now my comments about the restaurant are only for the food I have tried, and for anyone who wants to try the sushi I can say that the menu selection looks better than average.

What is notable about the non-sushi menu is first that they even have one, and second that it is very good. I should qualify this statement by saying that I do not think Tsubaki is comparable to Tokyo or Sushi Neko, but it is very good nonetheless. I would not have expected this to be the case based on many experiences at strip mall sushi restaurants, but Tsubaki is the proverbial “hidden gem.”

Appetizers

Miso and salad

Miso and salad served before lunch and dinner

The Miso Soup at Tsubaki has been one of the highlights of the meals I have had. In fact, I would say the quality is close to the one at Tokyo Restaurant (meaning that it is one of the best in town). The soup and salad come free with both lunches and dinners

Like most Japanese restaurants in the city, the dressing is the best part of the Salad, and I would say the dressing here is one of the best.

Lunch Menu

Salmon teriyaki lunch

Salmon teriyaki lunch box special

The Lunch Box Special is the only way the restaurant serves cooked items at lunch, but there are four choices for the way they cook the meat, and several choices of meat for each one. The one shown above is the Teriyaki Salmon, which is my favorite. I am almost at the point of saying this is better than the one at Tokyo, although at Tokyo I definitely give a higher rating to the side dishes. The side dishes here are all good, and consist of edamame, shumai (shrimp dumpling), sushi, and rice (the sushi is California roll). A salad and miso also come with the meal (as they have with all meals that I have ordered here).

The salmon here tends toward a white color rather than red, but it is cooked very well and has a very good teriyaki sauce. I would not say the salmon is “fresh” (I think this is only truly the case in the Pacific Northwest) but it is good quality.

I want to alert readers that the restaurant does not bring wasabi for the sushi, and you have to ask for it if you want it. In fact, it took a couple of visits before I realized that I wanted it because otherwise the California roll (served on the box lunches) tasted bland to me.

Tofu teriyaki

Tofu teriyaki box lunch

The Tofu Teriyaki is a nice change, but something I will probably not order again (I like tofu served a lot of different ways, but with just sauce it was too plain).

Pork katsu

Pork katsu box lunch

Pork Katsu is a meat that I think is probably better than the salmon in terms of flavor, but when comparing the breading here to the teriyaki on the salmon that I ordered, the two are probably a toss-up (meaning that I thought both were good). One reason I would order the pork is that I think the breading is better than most.

Hibachi steak

Hibachi steak

The Hibachi Steak is another excellent lunch box dish, with very good meat and a flavorful seasoning. It seems to be a good value for the money as well.

Hibachi shrimp

Hibachi shrimp box lunch

In contrast, I thought the Hibachi Shrimp was disappointing in both the flavor of the shrimp and the sauce (but this could be just my taste because I usually do not order shrimp except on the Gulf coast).

Hibachi Vegetables were in the middle of the scale–I liked the vegetables but was disappointed with the sauce. I would definitely get this over the teriyaki tofu, though.

Dinner Menu
The dinner menu mostly has the same items as at lunch, but there is a larger quantity of meat and not as many side dishes. You can order dinner items at lunch if you wish (some things such as tempura udon are only available on the dinner menu).

Tempura udon

Tempura udon

The Tempura Udon was not quite as flavorful as the one at Tokyo, but still very good, and well above my expectations for a strip mall sushi restaurant (I know I am repeating this phrase, but I really want people to not let the location of this place keep them from trying it). The tempura part of the dish is served on the side so it stays crisp until you either put it into the soup or eat it separately (you can also request a dipping sauce for the tempura). The shrimp tempura alone makes it worthwhile ordering this dish, and the vegetables have been different on different visits but always very good as well.

The udon soup is filling even without the tempura. At other restaurants I have learned to ask for some sansho pepper to give it extra flavor (Tsubaki has it but you have to ask for it). While I was surprised how good everything was (especially the tempura), I was equally surprised that the sansho pepper is not automatically served with the meal. I am sure, though, that a lot of this has to do with its location in a suburban strip mall.

Chicken udon

Chicken udon

When I ordered Chicken Udon it pointed out the fact that the weakest part of this dish was the soup, and without the tempura I thought the flavor fell a little flat.

Chicken teriyaki

Chicken teriyaki

The Chicken Teriyaki had a sauce that was a little flat in flavor, but the quality of everything was excellent. Like the tempura udon it was a little expensive but not lacking in quantity. My theory is that the teriyaki sauce goes better with the salmon than chicken (and I think teriyaki was originally developed to enhance the flavor of beef).

Tea
Green Tea used to be on the house but now they charge 50 cents (still a pretty good deal). It is served in a cup (when you need refills they will come around and serve you).

Overall Assessment
The lunch menu seems to provide some significant savings in price, but the selection of items is limited. The three things I think are best, though (salmon teriyaki, pork katsu and hibachi steak) are on the lunch menu.

They used to give out hot hand towels before the meal but this changed in 2015 (this is also about the time they started charging for tea). There were several changes at this time but they were subtle–they do not seem to have affected the quality of the food.

I have heard that the sushi is also good, but the California roll served on the box lunches is not something I would rush out to get.

The owners have recently opened Tsubaki Szechuan Restaurant in the Asian District (next to the Super Cao Nguyen Super Market just off of N.W. 23rd and Classen). Based on my experience at this restaurant I would recommend trying Tsubaki Szechuan as well.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun. (see the menu for exact hours)
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: Beer, Sake
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Sep. 4, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Salmon Teriyaki, Pork Katsu, Hibachi Steak, Miso,

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Green (brewed)
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Salmon Teriyaki
star 5 Pork Katsu
star 5 Tempura
star 4 Chicken Udon
star 4 Tempura Udon
star 5 Hibachi Steak
star 4 Hibachi Vegetables
star 4 Hibachi Shrimp
star 5 Salad
star 5 Miso Soup

 

Menu (Sep. 2018):