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.

Johnnie’s Express–Oklahoma City, OK

Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler Express
13900 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 748-5440

Johnnie’s has always been one of my go-to places in Oklahoma City, and for me it has really been the place for hamburgers and veggie burgers. One of the secrets here is their signature Johnnie’s sauce, which I understand that Johnnie developed based on his experience working at the old Split-T on N. Western Avenue. This is a variant of the barbecue sauce found in many Oklahoma “Q” restaurants, although I think the sauce at most barbecue places is both sweeter and tangier than the sauce served here. For flavor, though, I really think Johnnie’s sauce is the best I have found (especially when served on hamburgers).

The biggest downfall at the Johnnie’s Restaurants lately has seemed to be their consistency. For one thing there are several locations (meaning different managers and cooks). Even for a specific location there are variables such as which cooks are on duty. A lot of factors can detract from the hoped for perfection of Johnnie’s burgers including how the meat is cooked and even the bread (I love their sesame seed buns but at times they have changed it to a plain bun–I assume out of necessity at the time). One thing that always seems to be good, though, is the Johnnie’s sauce.

These and other variables apply to the different locations where I have eaten over the years. They do not apply yet to Johnnie’s Express on North May near Quail Springs Mall because of the fact that I have only been here once. In that one time I had a burger and fries which were perfection–everything I remember about Johnnie’s that it is supposed to be. I was extremely happy and of course suspicious that over time this restaurant would have the same variability I have found at other locations. For now, though, I can report that the best Johnnie’s location I have found is this one. I believe it has an abbreviated menu from the regular restaurants, but the all important burgers and fries are served here, and this is what I would recommend at any Johnnie’s restaurants at least for the first visit.

Burgers

Takeout order of burger and fries from Johnnie's Express

Burger and fries from Johnnie’s Express

On my initial visit I ordered my favorite burger, the No. 1 Hamburger  with Johnnie’s sauce. The sauce is cooked each day for about five hours, and is made with a secret blend of ingredients. Other burgers come with extra ingredients, such as pickles, onions, etc. at no extra cost. Many also like the Theta burger with Johnnie’s sauce, mayo, and pickles (I think the Theta cheeseburger is especially popular–the cheeseburgers are slightly more expensive).

The charcoal broiling method of cooking is probably the most important reason to come to Johnnie’s, though. I even thought the charcoal broiled flavor of the meat was more pronounced here than I have found at other Johnnie’s locations recently, and it made the burger here a special treat. I think Johnnie’s is always good, but my meal at this location was a special treat.

French Fries
French Fries are my usual side order at Johnnie’s but they are by no means the only one I like (the baked beans have also been excellent at the other locations). The fries I had at Johnnie’s Express were just right in the way they were prepared and lived up to my expectations, as the hamburger did.

Drinks
The Iced Tea at Johnnie’s is definitely one of the best in town, with the clear ice they use being almost as notable as the tea itself. The tea at the other locations has not been subject to the same variability as the food, and for me this has always been a good choice for a drink (although if you like milk shakes they have excellent ones here).

Summing It Up
Although my experience here was excellent, it is very possible that over a number of visits I would notice the same variability in the food that I have found at the other locations (it is always good, but sometimes a little disappointing in certain things). What I especially noticed about the Express location, though, was the very pronounced charcoal broiled flavor of the meat which has many times not been as evident at the other locations I have tried recently.


RATING: 24

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

Most Recent Visit: Mar. 21, 2020
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Hamburger, French Fries, Tea

Special Ratings
star 5 Hamburger
star 5 French Fries

 

Thai Delight–Edmond, OK

Thai Delight
3409 S. Broadway
Edmond, OK
(405) 513-8881
Thai Delight

Thai Delight in Edmond


Update Jul. 2020: Thai Delight is now at normal operation with the dining room open. This is subject to any Health Department mandates including use of masks, spacing of customers in the dining room, etc. During the health emergency they were doing delivery and they plan to continue it afterward (they do the delivery themselves). There is one delivery price for anything up to five miles from the restaurant, and a higher price for delivery from five to seven miles. They indicated to me that during the Corona virus emergency they would be willing to go farther than seven miles but I do not know the details of this or whether this policy will be continued.

In 2016 I had my best lunch experience of the year at Thai Delight, and this is what has made me determined to return whenever possible (it was the fresh ginger that made such an impression on me). Thai food ranks high among my favorite cuisines, so this had something to do with it. However, not everyone does Thai food this well, and gives the service and ambiance to complement the food.

The former Thai Palace in Edmond was my favorite Thai restaurant in the OKC metro until it closed, and this has served as my standard for comparing other Thai restaurants. Thai Delight certainly ranks high in serving excellent Thai food.

I find that I need to break down the menu, though, into the categories of curries and stir-fried dishes. Thai Delight has separate cooks that specialize in these two types of food, and I have great respect for a restaurant that will provide chefs with this kind of expertise. For my taste, though, the stir-fried dishes are the ones I have found to be really special here. I have not tried everything on the menu so I may also find some exceptional curries, but for now the stir-fried menu is the main reason I want to keep coming back.

Thai Delight also has a sushi menu which I have not tried, and I cannot comment about the food. I know that the Thai food cooks are from Thailand, though, and this is evident by the type of food they serve.

The restaurant is located in a shopping complex at the southwest corner of 33rd St. and Broadway in Edmond. I would call the complex upscale, but for some reason they have raised the level of all the stores up a half flight of stairs. After several visits to this restaurant and Pho Bulous next door (as well as an Indian restaurant which used to be in the same center) I finally found a ramp on the north side of the building to give access to anyone who does not want to use the stairs. It is located at the north end of Charleston’s Restaurant (at the opposite end as Thai Delight) but it will work for getting to all the businesses in the center.

Fresh Ginger

Fresh ginger

Fresh ginger on the lunch menu

Thai Delight has quite a good selection of items on the lunch menu, including Fresh Ginger. This was the dish I tried on my first visit, and it remains probably my favorite item at the restaurant. Some notable features of the fresh ginger were a vibrant flavor and the fact that it was not too sweet. The ginger was strong but well balanced by the sauce and the other ingredients. All of my orders have been with tofu, which is usually my preference and which also allows me to compare this dish with countless ones I have had in Seattle and other cities.

Basil

Spicy basil

Spicy basil from the lunch menu

Spicy Basil (listed as Basil on the to-go menu) at first did not wow me, but I asked for spicy fish sauce (prik nam pla) which raised the dish to one of the best I have had in the Oklahoma City area. This indicated that it had a very good underlying flavor but it just needed to be spicier (the dish comes at a default 3-star spice level but the waitress suggested that next time I should order it at 4 or 5). The waitress said it was already made with fish sauce but what I added just intensified the flavor. Note: I got a takeout version on a later visit that was spicier to just about the right level, but this was after I learned that I should ask for it this way.

The vegetables on this dish were fresh and a little crunchy. Ingredients such as the carrots and green beans actually had a good flavor (not something I say often about carrots or about green beans if they are not cooked correctly).

Spicy Bamboo with Chicken

Spicy bamboo with chicken

Spicy bamboo with chicken

For some reason they serve Spicy Bamboo with Chicken on both the lunch and dinner menus, but it does not come with any other type of meat. This comes with a red curry paste that I wanted to try, but I was not overly impressed with it. This does not mean the dish was disappointing, because it was a treat to have a dish with this quantity of bamboo shoots. Like most dishes here, it seemed to have an explosion of flavors because of the different ingredients that were used. In a way, though, it was almost overpowered by the large quantity of chicken (but this certainly does not seem to be a bad thing). This is definitely one of the more filling lunches I have had at a Thai restaurant, and I imagine the dinner portion would be too much for me to eat at one sitting.

Kao Soi
I tried Kao Soi at Thai Delight’s sister restaurant, Sushi-Thai Delight on Interstate 35, and this turned out to be a very impressive dish (probably equal to the fresh ginger stir fry in the probability that I would order it again). The highlight of the dish was the spicy yellow curry.

Salad

Salad

Salad with ginger dressing

The Salad was also very good, but even better because it was free. I found the ginger dressing to have a good flavor, but you can also choose the regular dressing or get one of the two soups that are available (but I do not have a list of these).

A spring roll also comes with the lunch special (and this was one of the better spring rolls I have had).

Thai Tea
I tend to put Thai tea into one of two categories–ones I like and ones that are disappointing. The one here was the former, so I was happy. However, I also liked it more than most.

Lunch
Thai Delight has 17 lunch specials for $7.95, and there is a wide choice of items including basil, curry, cashew, ginger, eggplant, broccoli, and pad thai (each has a choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or veggie).  There are also a couple of chicken dishes (my waitress said the spicy bamboo chicken was one of her favorite dishes here). There are also fish choices for $8.95 and duck for $11.95. I have to say that I was also impressed that the prices were the same in 2020 as they were when I made my first visit in 2016.

Japanese box lunch and sushi specials are also available for lunch.

Dinner
The Thai menu is slightly more expensive for the dinner items, but they do have quite a good selection of items. These include additional types of curry not available at lunch such as Panang, Massaman, and pineapple curry.

The bulk of the Japanese menu seems to be sushi, but it is mostly rolls with a small selection of a la carte sushi/sashimi. There are also Japanese dinners such as tempura, kutsu, and teriyaki.

Other Details
The restaurant does not use MSG, but the employees said there might be some in the soy sauce and other sauces they import from Asia. I have not experienced any noticeable levels of MSG in the food.

The dining room was very large and comfortable (this is not the main reason I find this restaurant to be an enjoyable experience but it is part of it).

The service at lunch seems to be highly efficient for getting orders out quickly.

I was able to have some good conversations and ask some questions to the staff after the lunch crowd died down. One of the things I learned is that Thai cooks prepare the Thai food (one person for the curries and one for the stir fried dishes). The style of the food is from the Bangkok area, but the kao soi (egg noodles with yellow curry) is northern style. The bamboo chicken which I previously mentioned has a chile paste which is not made with coconut milk, and is this restaurant’s version of pad prik khing sauce.

I would give the tip to others that for many dishes the prik nam pla (spicy fish sauce) condiment they will give you seems to provide added flavor or to bring out the flavor that is already there (depending on which way you look at it).

I originally thought this restaurant had another location in Norman, however I found out that restaurant is owned by the same extended family but does not necessarily have the same food. There is another Thai Delight in east Edmond, though called Sushi-Thai Delight (with the same food as far as I can tell).

Takeout

Fresh ginger for takeout

Fresh ginger for takeout

I have tried two items for takeout that I also ate in the restaurant, and neither one disappointed. The Fresh Ginger had the same flavor and impressed me every bit as much as the dine-in version. The one pictured was the dinner size, and was enough for two meals at home (the substantial portion of rice that comes with it makes this possible).

Spicy basil for takeout

Spicy basil for takeout

The takeout meal of Spicy Basil was also excellent, and in fact seemed to be better than the restaurant version (I asked for this one to be spicier than their default level). This was also a dinner portion, and was enough for two meals for me. Like the ginger dish you can have a choice of meats, and I usually choose tofu on the stir fried dishes.

Conclusions
The Thai food here is the real deal, but they just do not have as many dishes on the menu as most restaurants that have a similar quality. The people who prepare the food are from Thailand, something I already pretty much figured out just from tasting the food. Many Thai restaurants in Oklahoma City have very good food, but I have to say that Thai Delight is one of my favorites.

I am rating Kao Soi as one of my favorite dishes, but I actually did not eat it here but at their other restaurant Sushi-Thai Delight on Interstate 35 near 15th Street in Edmond.

I don’t know anything about the sushi here, except to say that they have quite a large variety of it.


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Thai & Sushi
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily (closed from 3 to 4:30 pm)
Accessible: Yes (look for the ramp on the north side of Charleston’s Restaurant)
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Mar. 18, 2020

Number of Visits: 3

Best Items: Fresh Ginger, Kao Soi, Thai Tea

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Fresh Ginger
star 5 Spicy Basil
star 5 Salad
star 5 Thai Tea

The Catch–Oklahoma City, OK

The Catch
2127 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 849-4300
The Catch on Memorial Rd.

The Catch on Memorial Rd.


There is a prominent local radio talk show host who I find interesting not only for his political views and knowledge of current events, but who also frequently shares personal stories which can be good sources of information as well. On a recent program he mentioned that he had tried a newly opened Cajun restaurant called The Catch, and how it serves “real” Cajun food as opposed to some others which may taste good but are not authentic Cajun. He knows because he moved to Oklahoma City from Lafayette, Louisiana. My own visits to Louisiana have confirmed to me that not all restaurants around the country that are trying to capitalize on the Cajun food popularity really live up to what they advertise themselves to be.

The Catch is a chain out of Texas, a state which itself has a pretty substantial Cajun population. The Catch’s first venture outside of Texas has been in Oklahoma City, where they recently opened three restaurants (The Catch’s web site only lists the location on Memorial Road but Yelp indicates that there are two others).

The menu at The Catch is not very extensive but it certainly fit my experience of how Cajun food should taste. I know that many people are seeking good taste rather than authenticity, but with this type of food I think preparing it the right way (as the radio talk show host said) is the key to it being good. In any case, this particular restaurant is what I would describe as good.

The price was a little high, but I splurged a little bit (readers can refer to the menu below and determine whether it is within their price range).

I got an order to go, but it looked as if the take-out containers were served to everyone whether they ate in or out. The major difference was that if you ate on the premises you could get refills on the drinks. They also had a condiment bar in case you wanted to add some flavor to the food. One of the employees advised me that he liked the food as it was served and did not make use of the additives they provided, and I agreed with him after trying the food. I should point out that in Louisiana the custom seemed to be to eat the food as it was served and to not add anything to it.

Shrimp

This is their smallest order of fried shrimp

Fried shrimp and hush puppies

The main dishes at The Catch include fried shrimp, catfish, oysters, crawfish, and chicken. There is also boiled shrimp, Po Boys, tacos, and some blackened dishes. I went with the Fried Shrimp, and got the smallest order they had (which was just about the right size for lunch). I was pretty impressed with the shrimp, and I found that the batter was lighter and much more flavorful than most that I have tried (it would probably be in the mid range for those in Louisiana and very high on the scale anywhere away from the coast). Their largest order is called the “Jumbo,” not to be confused with the fact that all orders have what I would consider to be jumbo shrimp in terms of size.

The Hush Puppies were the least impressive part of the meal I had, but I still enjoyed them (they were just a little more mushy than most).

Red Beans & Rice

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice

The shrimp baskets come with fries, but they offered to substitute Red Beans and Rice for them at no extra cost. For me this was a real treat and a real bargain. The order of red beans was quite large and had an exceptional smoky flavor with a large amount of sausage thrown in. They were spicy to a good and appropriate level, and I certainly think this restaurant knows what they are doing on this dish.

Gumbo

Gumbo

Gumbo

I wanted to try the Gumbo, which was the main thing that ran up the price for me. It turned out to have very much the same kind of smoky flavor that was in the red beans and rice, but the gumbo had different ingredients including some shrimp and what seemed to be a larger amount of sausage than was in the red beans and rice. In fact, I thought at first that they had mistakenly given me two orders of the same thing until I dug in and found that the ingredients were different (the sauce seemed to be exactly as the one in the red beans & rice).

Other Comments
Some of the highlights of The Catch included the freshness of the shrimp and the flavor of the gumbo and red beans & rice (I think they had the same sauce). I also have to say that they know what they are doing with the sausage (there was a generous amount in the red beans & rice and even more in the gumbo).

I did notice a “fried food” aftertaste from the shrimp, though. This is understandable because obviously the shrimp was fried, but I think there are some kinds of oil that I like better than others and one was not my favorite (the flavor was good but it was just the aftertaste that did not come off so well).

Both the gumbo and red beans & rice were so impressive that I really think I need to go back and try some other items.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer and Wine

Most Recent Visit: Mar. 6, 2020

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Fried Shrimp

Special Ratings
star 5 Fried Shrimp
star 5 Red Beans and Rice
star 5 Gumbo

Menu (Mar. 2020):