About Steve

Hello, I am Steve of Steve's Gastronomic Home Page, which was started as a hobby to let others know about some of my favorite restaurants. This blog is an update and expansion of the original web site, and a chance for readers to leave their comments and suggestions. The most up-to-date restaurant reviews are at OKGourmet.com. For now I am including links to the reviews rather than try to move everything to Steve's Food Blog all at once. I am not a professional food person and I do not have a connection to any restaurant. As a geography major in college (Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Austin) I am interested in different countries and cultures. This has now expanded to food in not only focusing on ethnic, national, and regional foods, but also in trying to determine what constitutes authentic ethnic food. My academic training and profession also inspired me to try to make a "master list" of restaurants, which I have included in the Blog as "Steve's List". I have included a box for comments on the list so that others can help me compile the list and keep it updated. At the very least, though, I hope it will serve as a list of interesting restaurants to try when traveling to different geographic areas.

Fortune–Oklahoma City, OK

Fortune Chinese Restaurant
12315 N. Rockwell Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 722-3032
Fortune Chinese Restaurant

Fortune Chinese Restaurant


Fortune is a small family run restaurant in far northwest Oklahoma City that from the outside looks like most of its competitors. All the standard dishes are served, and the menu is pretty typical for Chinese restaurants. A good portion of the restaurant’s business is take-out, and if you dine in it will be easy on the budget. While Fortune may be everything that is expected in a suburban Chinese restaurant, close examination reveals quite a few features that are not normally found.

Upon entering the building one may notice the ample space that makes it possible to hold large family gatherings, and there are even large round Chinese style banquet tables. The new chairs, green plants, and clean environment invite a leisurely meal, or food can be served quickly enough for those who have a time constraint.

Fortune's comfortable interior

Fortune’s interior is comfortable and inviting

There is not a special Chinese menu such as would be found in the Asian District (Fung’s Kitchen, Grand House, etc.) although the chefs here certainly know how to prepare authentic Cantonese dishes. It is a matter of the customer base in the suburbs versus the central city, and the fact that the Americanized Chinese food and the traditional food take different ingredients, a different kitchen setup, and of course the expectation that if they prepared the authentic food there would be a certain number of customers who would order it.

I am sure that Fortune will not change the menu they have had since the restaurant opened in 1987 (under previous owners) and there is really no reason for it to do so. When I started going to Fortune around 2006 I got to know the manager Suni and her brother Wei Min who is one of the chefs and who was largely responsible for preparing the “Seasonal Specials”  they had listed on a special menu board at the time. These were the same type of traditional dishes I had found in Seattle, and the ones at Fortune had a similar flavor. The Seasonal Specials lasted several years, but never caught on with customers enough that the restaurant wanted to continue it.

A few of the special dishes made their way to the menu and others can still be prepared by special request. The trick of looking at the menu is that you have to look at both menus (for some reason some of these dishes are on the take home menu but not the regular one). For any special requests you can always ask whether they are available or not.

I have included items in this review that I believe the restaurant can likely prepare for people, and for those who are interested it is worth exploring “beyond the menu.”

Soup
Several soups are listed on the menu, and lunch specials come with either a bowl of egg drop or hot and sour soup (the one I prefer is egg drop).

Egg drop soup

Egg drop soup

I like the fact that the Egg Drop Soup has a lot of flavor, and it seems to be better than at a lot of other restaurants.

Corn soup

Corn soup

Corn Soup is one of the ones you can order from the menu, and I think the one here is excellent.

Chicken soup with dumplings and bok choy

Chicken soup with dumplings by special order

They can also make special soups that would serve as a complete meal, such as the Chicken Soup with Rice Noodles, Shrimp, Dumplings, and Bok Choy shown in the photo. I think the bok choy is seasonal so this soup may vary in its ingredients. I was informed that this is one of the dishes customers can request as a special order because of the fact that it does not take a long time to prepare.

Dinners Ordered from the Menu

Lettuce wrap

Lettuce wrap

Although the Lettuce Wrap Chicken is listed as an appetizer, it is really a full meal. I think this is one of the better ones in OKC (I have tried some in other restaurants that did not live up to the ones here).

Crispy tofu

Crispy tofu Guangzhou style

Crispy Tofu was originally served as a Seasonal Special and then was added to the menu under the “House Specialties” section (I think it is only on the take-out menu, though). This is a delicious dish in which the sauce is really the key that makes it so flavorful. I am not sure if the sauce is vegetarian, though (it has been some time since I have tried it).

I have asked the restaurant which menu items they consider to be authentic and they have given me this list:

  • Crispy Tofu
  • House Special Noodle Soup (in the “Noodle Special” section of the menu)
  • Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce
  • Tofu Clay Pot (this is vegetarian)
  • Lettuce Wrap Chicken

One menu item I have tried several times has been General Tso’s Chicken (mostly it has been from sampling it rather than getting a full order). I think this has a very good flavor and is not overly sweet, but fried and battered chicken in a sweet sauce is not traditional Chinese food.

Another item I have particularly enjoyed has been the Tomato Beef.

Not on the Menu but Available to Order

Tomato and egg

Eggs with tomato are simple yet delicious, and can be served any time

Tomato beef is one of the “House Specialties,” but they can make what I think is an even better dish and which is totally traditional in China, the Tomato and Egg (scrambled egg). Both the traditional version and the menu version have the same delicious sauce, which I think is probably the key to either of these dishes.

Hong Kong tofu

Hong Kong tofu

If the Hong Kong Tofu is on the menu I cannot find it, and I do not know if this is its correct name (but I think this was the name used on the Seasonal Specials menu). It is called stuffed tofu in many restaurants, and the one pictured is stuffed with shrimp (Suni told me it is traditionally stuffed with pork, so possibly you could order it that way). This one came with oyster sauce (you can also order it with white sauce, or just leave it up to the chef to decide). The tofu is steamed for ten minutes, so this dish ends up taking a little bit longer to prepare than most of the menu items. This is one of my favorite dishes that I have tried here.

Chicken and potatoes with curry

Chicken and potatoes with curry

Curry Chicken with Potatoes is a dish that is not on the menu, but I got it when I asked Wei Min to make a take-out dish that was traditional Chinese that he thought would be good. Since then it has been one of my top choices for take-out orders (this curry is less spicy than Thai or Indian curry, or it can be ordered with brown sauce which is not spicy).

Chicken and tofu

Chicken and tofu

Chicken and Tofu is another non-menu take-out dinner I had when I asked for something that was authentic. This has soft tofu and a white sauce. This version did not have any vegetables other than green onions because it was meant to be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days so I could wait out one of Oklahoma’s famous ice storms.

Chicken and tofu with vegetables

Chicken and tofu with vegetables

The Chicken and Tofu with Vegetables is the same dish with vegetables added. The peas and carrots also keep pretty well in this version, and I thought the flavor of this dish was quite good.

I have collected this list of other items customers can special order with no advanced notice, and there are probably others. Of course customers would have to check with the restaurant about any of these:

  • Chicken and Potatoes (like the chicken and curry but with brown sauce instead)
  • Napa Beef (No. 211 on the menu) with bok choy instead of napa (when the bok choy is in season)
  • Combination Tofu with Beef, Shrimp, and Chicken
  • Chicken Soup with Dumplings (see the heading for “soups” in this article)
  • Ginger Beef (although the ginger they can get here is not the “young ginger” that is available in China)
  • Mi Fun, or Hong Kong style rice noodles. These are soft noodles lightly soaked in sauce so that they are more like the “dry” style served at Grand House and other restaurants. The typical version includes shrimp and chicken, although the meat can be prepared to order.
  • Bean Curd and Vegetable Hot Pot is a dish I requested. This was much like the seafood hot pot on the menu but with the ingredients modified (and I found it to be very good).
  • Citrus Chicken was offered as a Seasonal Special during summer 2006. This dish had a sauce made with orange juice and lemon, and while flavorful, was breaded and heavy on the meat with virtually no vegetables included. This was not quite what I would classify as traditional Chinese cooking, but it neverthess reflected Fortune’s effort to introduce the public to more “gourmet” Chinese cooking. It was also one of the dishes that convinced me to return to the restaurant to try other dishes (they have not specifically said that they can still prepare this dish but I thought I would put it on the list just in case).

Some Additional Details
I did not want to give this restaurant a rating because I normally do not order the regular menu items, and the ones I order are usually modified somewhat to suit my taste. One focus of my blog is on authentic Asian food, and I have been able to find it here.

For those who do order the regular menu items, though, they will find that the food is fresh and prepared when they are ordered. It is made with vegetable oil (which is not only healthy, but a lot of people find that it tastes better than the oils that many Chinese restaurants use).

This restaurant opened in 1987, and the current owners wanted to keep the menu items the restaurant had been serving since the beginning. Customers are happy about this, and there are a large number of people who have continued to come over the years. I am not a fan of American style Chinese food, but I at least know that the food available on the menu at Fortune is fresh and healthier than might be assumed. I do think some of the dishes contain MSG, though, unless you ask them to omit it (the special request items I have tried have also been made with no added MSG).

Fortune offers free delivery with an order of $12 or more for customers within a five mile radius. The restaurant is open every day of the year except Christmas, New Year, and July 4th. They serve beer, and the hot jasmine tea is very good. The service is very friendly, and I think they go out of their way (more than at most restaurants) to serve your meal the way you want it.

Prices change very infrequently, and when they do it has always stayed in the least expensive price category I have (which has been adjusted for inflation a couple of times since I did my first reviews in about 2005).


RATING: N/R

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

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 6, 2019
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Crispy Tofu, Tomato and Egg, Chicken and Potatoes with Curry, Hong Kong Tofu, House Special Noodle Soup, Noodle Soup with Dumplings and Shrimp (can be special ordered), Other Non-Menu Authentic Chinese Dishes

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (bags)
MSG: Yes
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Crispy Tofu
star 5 Chicken Soup with Dumplings
star 5 Tomato Beef
star 5 Ma Po Tofu
star 5 Lettuce Wrap
star 5 Tomato and Egg
star 4 Egg Drop Soup
star 3 Hot and Sour Soup

 

Menu (Nov. 2017):

 

 

Ranch Steakhouse–Oklahoma City, OK

Ranch Steakhouse
3000 W. Britton Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 755-3501
Ranch Steakhouse

Ranch Steakhouse


Growing up in Oklahoma I never realized that other parts of the country did not enjoy the same abundance of good quality steaks as here, but in recent years it has been much harder even in the Southwest to find the same kind of beef I remember as a youngster. I am not sure where along the supply chain much of the beef seems to have lost its flavor, but I have learned to distrust many of the claims made by restaurants that they serve a great steak.

Ranch Steakhouse on the north side of Oklahoma City, though, goes a long way in my quest to find steaks that live up to my expectation of the way I know they can be. I do not know if Ranch Steakhouse has the best steaks in Oklahoma, but I believe it is close. I cannot afford to go to all of the steak restaurants to find out which one is actually the best, but at Ranch Steakhouse I am pretty sure people will be satisfied that this is about as good as it gets.

Even though Ranch Steakhouse is quite upscale, blue jeans are about as common here as they are at Cattlemen’s at the Stockyards. It is expensive, but I think people will consider it a bargain for the quality of meat served, especially when compared to upscale restaurants in large cities (although I say this without having much first hand experience with them).

Ranch Steakhouse’s web site includes the following information about the steaks:

Every evening you’ll find an extraordinary menu featuring 100% USDA Certified Prime tenderloins, strips, and ribeyes being skillfully prepared and cut by hand for each guest who dines with us. Our exceptional chef-driven cuisine consists entirely of custom aged hand cut Prime Beef from Nature Source that is never exposed to antibiotics or hormones and fed on grass up until just before being processed. We also offer a selection of Grade 12 Japanese Wagu Filets, 100% Grass Fed Filets and Dry Aged Ribeyes.

In ordering a filet the waiter informed me that there were three levels that could be ordered: the filet I ordered from the regular menu was about $50, the 100% grass fed filet was about $80 (this one is more tender), and the Japanese Wagyu was $30 per ounce (and is the most tender). The latter two are not listed on the menu, and the difference with the 100% grass fed meat is just the amount of time they are fed grass (the regular beef is grass until the time of processing).

The bottom line is that even the “regular” steaks are what I consider to be a special treat, and these are the ones I am saying are among the best in Oklahoma. I ordered the grass fed filet in 2010 when it was not as expensive as it is today, and I would say my enjoyment level of both types of steak was about the same.

Also in 2010 they were saying that their most expensive steak was “Kobe beef,” and I think they had to change this to “Wagu” because of the the term “Kobe” being a trademark for only certain beef which comes from Japan (and there were about a dozen restaurants in the entire United States that served genuine Kobe beef). I did not ask them on the last visit what they mean by “Japanese Wagu,” but I think this is the same steak they were selling earlier as “Kobe.”

For my taste Ranch Steakhouse is top quality, but there may be other levels of top quality available at a few restaurants in the country that are at a higher level then here.

Salads and Appetizers

Chop House

Chop House Salad

Even though I thought the steaks were top notch, I did not feel the same way about the Chop House Salad. This was a good salad, but it did not seem to me to reach the same level as the salads at Boulevard Steakhouse, Cheever’s, or a number of other good restaurants. The fact that it was topped with cheddar cheese was not a good sign to me, and I was underwhelmed enough by the other ingredients to think that maybe putting cheese on top was actually an improvement. Still, it was not bad, just a little below the level I would expect in a very good steak restaurant.

There are quite a few other choices for salads and appetizers, so I do not know if I would have a better opinion overall if I tried some of the other items.

Steak
Of course steak is the main reason to come to Ranch Steakhouse. All of the steaks are “Prime,” are grass fed until just before the time they are processed, and are hormone and antibiotic free. I believe being grass fed is the most important factor in the good flavor I find in the steaks here.

Strip

Strip

The menu has changed somewhat since an earlier visit I made in 2010. At this time the regular menu was not being advertised as being grass fed, but you could get grass fed beef at a higher cost. At this time I ordered a grass fed Strip at the higher cost. This cut, though, had extra fat and slightly different flavor that has since made me stick with the filet.

Tenderloin filet

Tenderloin filet on a recent visit

My most recent order of a Filet was quite good, but was cut into bite-sized pieces which was quite surprising to me (but I think in a good way). I had eaten a filet on a previous visit, and this continues to be my first choice when coming here.

They now offer the filet at three different sizes (7 oz., 10 oz, or 16 oz.). The one pictured is ten ounces (which I shared, and both of us found it to be the right size).

Steaks are available with a choice of toppings for an extra charge, but with beef this good I am not sure it could be improved upon.

Side Dishes

Side sampler

Side sampler

A Side Sampler of vegetables is available for $20 as of the time of this writing, consisting of two vegetables plus a baked potato. The choices of vegetables can be made from their list of about eleven items (I am not including the various types of potatoes). My plate had two baked potatoes because the waiter said the potatoes were small that evening, but normally you get one (also I think the waiter did us a favor because there were two of us). In any case, I cannot complain about what you get for your money.

I have not found all of the side dishes to be equally enjoyable, though. The two in the photo (asparagus and carrots) are among the best I have tried. Probably my first choice on any visit, though, would be the baked potato. It came with all the toppings I like, and the potato is always cooked the right way.

Au gratin potatoes

Au gratin potatoes

The Au Gratin Potatoes surprised me, though, by not matching what I consider to be the overall quality of the restaurant (although I felt the same way about the chop house salad). I thought the potatoes had too much garlic, too much cheese in relation to the other ingredients, and potatoes that were not crispy enough with a texture I did not enjoy (other than that it was good, of course).

My choice of broccoli and carrots was on the suggestion of the waiter, and I might advise this tactic when coming here for the first time or when not knowing what you would like from the vegetable menu.

Dessert

Dulce de leche cake

Dulce de leche cake

One feature that does seem to be as good as the steaks, though, is the desserts. The Dulce de Leche Cake I tried was one of the best after dinner treats I have had in Oklahoma City. I also understood from the waiter that this is the only dessert Ranch Steakhouse makes in house, so this may be the only one about which I would have such a high opinion. This particular dessert, though, was well worth the money.

Other Comments
After several visits I have concluded that Ranch Steakhouse probably has the best steaks I have tried in Oklahoma City (or in the case of Red Prime, which also has excellent steaks, Ranch Steakhouse seems to be less expensive). The problem, though, is that many of the side dishes at Ranch Steakhouse do not match up to the steaks. Ranch Steakhouse is my personal choice for “best steak,” but for a whole meal experience, including salad and side dishes, other restaurants such as Boulevard Steakhouse or Red Prime might be a better choice.

Ranch Steakhouse is located in north Oklahoma City away from the popular tourist areas (but just down the street from the popular “restaurant strip” on Lake Hefner), so it does not seem to be on the tourist radar for out of town visitors. I think, though, that it offers an excellent taste of Oklahoma steak. It is certainly popular with locals, and it usually seems that even when I go on weekdays, I end up getting one of the few tables available. I think there is good reason the locals make regular visits when they want a fine dining experience.

I think reservations would be a good idea on weekends, but so far I have done fine by going and taking my chances (all of these visits were on weekdays).

They have valet parking here, but for me this would not be something I would want to consider since the entire parking lot seems like a short walk to me.


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Steaks
Cost: $$$$
Hours: Dinner Only (Open Daily)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full Bar

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 4
Best Items: Filet, Baked Potato, Broccoli, Carrots, Dulce de Leche Cake

Special Ratings
star 5 Filet
star 5 Strip
star 5 Baked Potato
star 5 Carrots
star 5 Asparagus
star 4 Chop House Salad

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):