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.

Golden Phoenix–Oklahoma City, OK

Golden Phoenix
2728 N. Classen Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 524-3988
Golden Phoenix

Golden Phoenix


Golden Phoenix (Kim Phung in Vietnamese) became aptly named when it arose out of a fire that occurred in 2011, and was reborn as a more upscale and arguably better restaurant. Both before and after the fire it has operated as a dual restaurant in a single building–there is an authentic menu for Vietnamese food as well as one for Chinese food, each of which has its own chefs. The menu is written in English, Chinese, and Vietnamese and is separated into the categories and styles of food served. It does not make an obvious division, though, between the dishes that come from China or Vietnam.

The Chinese food is Cantonese style, and reflects the cuisine served in Hong Kong except for the fact that they do not serve dim sum. The Vietnamese side of the menu is the one I initially found to be the most interesting, and before the fire I had designated Golden Phoenix as the best Vietnamese restaurant I had found in Oklahoma. After the fire I have tried several Chinese dishes, and have found them to be excellent as well. As it stands, both Vietnamese and Chinese food are among my favorite items at Golden Phoenix.

Vietnamese Food

Pork chop

Vietnamese style pork chop

Some of my favorite items at Golden Phoenix have come from the Vietnamese menu, but both of the ones pictured are ones I ordered before the fire occurred. One was a Pork Chop recommended by the waiter as one of his favorites, and it turned out to be one of my favorites as well. This came with tender meat, but the flavoring was so good that this is what made it so memorable. Most of the meats at Golden Phoenix have MSG, but the pork chop “didn’t have much,” and I was able to eat it with no ill effects. I really think this was one of the best Vietnamese dishes I have had in OKC.

I do not know where this dish is located on the new menu (or the old one, for that matter, since I was just following the waiter’s suggestion). There are several pork chops listed in the section labeled “Broken Rice Platters” with different side dishes, but I cannot match any of them to the one pictured. I would recommend ordering any one of them from the menu or that the staff recommends, and although the side dishes will vary the pork chop itself should be as much of a sublime experience as it was for me.

Bún bò Huê

Bún bò Huê

Bún Bò Huê is a popular soup in Vietnam, but Golden Phoenix is the one place where I was able to find an authentic version of it. This is number 214 on the menu in the “Rice Vermicelli Noodle” section.

The spicy soup had several types of meat and meat substitutes (such as congealed pig blood) that I probably would not normally eat, but I found the flavor to be good and overall I really enjoyed it. This was a deliciously flavored soup cooked with beef bones and lemongrass for flavor, and I found it to be surprisingly good. At least from the description of this dish I have found on the Internet, I think the one at Golden Phoenix was about as authentic as is be found in the U.S. I have had other versions of this soup in OKC, but the one I had at Golden Phoenix was the most flavorful (either in spite of or because of the blood balls).

The current menu lists this dish as “Hue style spicy beef noodle soup with beef, pork, balony and thick round rice noodle.” Absent from this is any mention of the blood balls, so perhaps this is something that has now been dropped. With or without the blood balls, though, I think the excellent flavor of this dish will remain.

Chinese Style Noodles

Flat noodles with beef and vegetables

Flat noodles with beef and vegetables

The Chinese items available before the fire are still on the menu, including Beef Flat Noodles. This was a delicious dish with a large assortment of vegetables mixed in with tender sliced beef. There are so many noodle dishes served I think it will take some experimentation to find the best ones, but I was happy with the one I had.

Pan Fried Noodles were recommended as an authentic dish from the Chinese chef’s home region of Guangdong, and consisted of a wreath of crispy noodles around the edge that resembled a bird’s nest with the customer’s choice of meats and vegetables on top. Mine had a light brown sauce, and was thoroughly enjoyable. This one had a larger portion of noodles than others served in Oklahoma City, but they did not scrimp on the vegetables. It would not be advisable to attend a business meeting after eating this delicacy, however, since a heavy garlic flavoring is a key component to its essence.

Congee

Congee

Congee, or rice soup

Congee, a traditional Chinese dish of rice pudding, makes a good breakfast or appetizer. Even though it comes with fish, chicken, pork, or other types of filler and flavoring, it is not generally considered a dish Chinese like to eat exclusively for a meal except for breakfast. Knowing that I do not generally expect a whole lot out of a bowl of congee, though, I thought the one here was very good. Grand House, across the street from this restaurant, is the only other place I know in town that serves congee (Grand House only has it on weekends and when dim sum is served), but even with a lack of competition in town I thought the rice pudding at Golden Phoenix compared favorably with ones I have tried in other cities.

Chinese Style Hot Pot

Bean curd with assorted meat hot pot

Bean curd with assorted meat hot pot

Several Chinese hot pot dishes are available such as the Bean Curd with Assorted Meat Hot Pot. This is a dish I ordered at night shortly before closing time, and they warned me that some of the meats could not be cooked that late in the evening but it did include several varieties of seafood. Some of the seafood was not as flavorful as I have had at other restaurants, and without the other meat this was a disappointment to me. Despite its apparent shortcomings near closing time, though, it still had good sauce, tofu, vegetables, etc..

The Vegetable and Bean Curd Hot Pot is one that I ordered at a “normal” time, and was very good with tofu, vegetables, and sauce. I thought it could have used some ginger, though. It contained more shitake mushrooms than I expected, and probably as a result of this was somewhat pricey for a vegetable dish.

While the hot pot dishes are very good, this is one case where Golden Phoenix faces stiff competition for other restaurants. I am happy to give my business to all of them, since hot pot dishes are definitely among my favorites.

Steamed Rice Dishes
One of the best dishes I have tried here was the Curry Chicken on Rice from the Steamed Rice section of the menu. It was not the kind of curry I was expecting, even from a Chinese style curry. The curry was a little sweet with a very complex and interesting flavor compared to most curries. I just had a few bites of it, but this was one of the best Chinese dishes I have tried in Oklahoma City.

Barbecued Meats

Barbecued meats

Golden Phoenix is well known for its display of hanging ducks and other meats

Golden Phoenix is probably the premier Chinese barbecue restaurant in Oklahoma City. First Chinese B-B-Q, a chain out of Dallas, was the original restaurant here, and when Golden Phoenix opened it seemed to be merely a name change with the new restaurant still being known for its meats. One of the most notable features of the restaurant is the array of hanging barbecued ducks, chickens, and other animals in a display case near the counter.

Chinese barbecue shares the technique of slow cooking with other barbecue traditions, but the meat can be anything from pork ribs to duck. The smallest portions of barbecued meat served at the restaurant are a half duck or chicken, except for some steamed rice dishes that come with individual portions of duck and other meats.

Roast duck

Takeout order of roast duck

I recently shared a takeout order of Roast Duck with some friends, and it reaffirmed the conventional wisdom that barbecued meats are one of the items Golden Phoenix does best. To me the flavor and quality were on par with duck I have had at some fine dining restaurants.

Tea
The original Golden Phoenix served jasmine tea made with loose leaves that was on the house. Now it is made with tea bags and they charge for it. This, along with a new dining room and a somewhat new menu, makes me think they changed the management after the restaurant reopened. In any case, the tea was one item that was better at the “old” restaurant.

Recommendations
I have found consistently good quality with both the Chinese and Vietnamese food, and for both they seem to serve the food as it would be done in Asia. The menu is very extensive, and at times it has been hard for me to decide what would be best to order. The staff is usually a big help if you have some idea of the type of food you would like.

On my one recent disappointing experience, the waiter had advised me that they did not have all the ingredients to make the dish properly. Obviously this is another example of how the staff can help if you take their advice (and I will make a point of doing so in the future).

Another lesson I have learned is that many dishes that are quite good did not sound all that appetizing on the menu, so for many of us this requires a learning curve. While Golden Phoenix seems to be very good at preparing food the way it is in Asia, not everything served is something I or other people would particularly enjoy. It is hard to go wrong with the barbecued meats, though, for something that almost everyone seems to think is the restaurant’s signature dish.


RATING: 25

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

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 14, 2018
Number of Visits: 9
Best Items: (Chinese) Roast Duck (and other barbecued meats), Curry Chicken on Rice, Crispy Pork Bean Curd Hot Pot, Pan Fried Noodles, Congee, (Vietnamese) Pork Chop, Bún Bò Huê

 

Asian Food Details

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

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Roast Duck
star 5 Vietnamese Pork Chop
star 5 Bún Bò Huê
star 5 Pan Fried Noodles
star 5 Beef Flat Noodles (dry)
star 5 Congee
star 5 Crispy Pork Bean Curd Clay Pot
star 5 Ginger Chicken
star 5 Curry Chicken on Rice
star 4 Vegetable and Bean Curd Hot Pot
star 4 Shredded Chicken with Garlic Sauce

 

Menu (Jul. 2017):

 

Poblano Grill–Oklahoma City, OK

Poblano Grill
13593 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 755-8111
Poblano Grill

Poblano Grill


For me Poblano Grill is somewhat of an old school Mexican restaurant that caters to American tastes, but recently it has added dishes that make the menu much more interesting and that I think are more authentic. The “old school” dishes include ones covered with cheese where they would never be served this way in Mexico and other ways of preparing food that would probably be called Tex-Mex. The problem is that I thought the Tex-Mex food was much better in Texas, and while I do not demand that everything be authentic I do want it to be delicious.

So far what I have liked here have been street tacos and green enchiladas (chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce), along with a few of the side dishes and any salsas besides the one they automatically bring to the table. The green enchiladas and special salsas are not on the menu and have to be specially requested, but they are always available when you ask. This seems to be a common practice in Oklahoma City Mexican restaurants, and I think is mainly done because they want to make sure customers understand the degree of spiciness of these items before they order them.

Poblano Grill had other locations throughout the years before they settled on the single restaurant currently in operation. In this process has been a menu revamp and the inclusion of some very good non-menu items such as the green enchiladas. The other thing I like now is that you can downsize just about any meal by getting a smaller portion or by eliminating one or more of the side items.

Setups
The Queso was better than at most Mexican restaurants, but the chips were disappointing. I would definitely recommend ordering the spicy Salsa Caliente which is free. The Diablo Salsa is a little too spicy for me, but is also available on request.

Tacos

Street tacos

Street tacos with carnitas and chicken

Street Tacos are an example of the new menu items that add some authentic Mexican dishes to the selections. These are Mexican style tacos with soft tacos, onion and cilantro garnishes, and a choice of meats. The tacos are inexpensive and very good.

I have now had two different experiences with the Chicken Tacos. The chicken tacos are usually more flavorful than most, and I thought the shredded and seasoned meat was one of the best I had experienced in the city. I have also experienced it, though, when the chicken was dry.

The Carnitas Taco made with pork was the most impressive of the different varieties on several of my visits. For one thing, good carnitas are hard to find in restaurants (and this was one of the best). In addition, these were moist, while I find the ones at most restaurants to be dry.

The Shredded Beef Taco tasted like barbacoa, and I thought it was very good. I did not think it was exceptional as the tacos calvillo at Abel’s are, but I give the ones at Poblano Grill five stars because of the flavor and the quality.

Street tacos full order

Street tacos dinner with a choice of two sides

Street tacos come with two sauces meant to give more flavor and seasoning to the meal: a chipotle tomatillo and a roasted tomato sauce. However, after trying both, I ended up using neither on the tacos. Instead, I found the spicy salsa (salsa caliente) served on request with the chips at the beginning of the meal to be perfect with the tacos (there is also a diablo salsa available for those who like it even spicier).

Street tacos normally come with two sides, but they will serve just the tacos if you wish (at a reduced price).

Baja tacos

Baja fish tacos

The Baja Fish Tacos made with tilapia were very good, but were not comparable to the street tacos in providing a memorable experience. What I will say, though, is that I thought they were comparable to most other fish tacos I have had at good restaurants.

Enchiladas

Enchiladas with tomatillo sauce

Enchiladas with tomatillo sauce served with papas and refried beans

Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce are not on the menu, but I discovered them one time when I had a particularly helpful waiter, and I discovered on return visits that they are always available on request. I do not know if the flavor is really better than at the several other restaurants which also serve them (either from the menu or on request). What is obvious from the photo, though, is that they give you a lot of sauce, and this is a good thing. The sauce here and at other restaurants in OKC is not terribly spicy, and probably comes just short of the spiciness level of most green enchiladas served with Hatch or Anaheim green chiles. I find the tomatillo enchiladas to be quite flavorful, with a spice level that will not disappoint those who crave real chiles. (If you have ever had chipotle enchiladas, they are probably about twice the spice level of the tomatillo sauce).

Enchilada light order

Enchilada light order with calabazitas

Under the category “You Never Know Until You Ask” is the fact that you can also order a single enchilada with one side dish at a reduced price (and for me this many times fits my appetite).

Other Menu Items

Tortilla soup

Tortilla soup

The Tortilla Soup started out very good when I used to order it at the Poblano Grill at Rockwell and Hefner. The one pictured here, though, (served in 2016) seemed to be made from a different recipe. The tortilla strips were soggy and the broth had a different flavor, so possibly it was the same soup just not prepared very well. In any case, I have found better versions of tortilla soup both in OKC and elsewhere.

Side Dishes
Most of the side dishes have varied from visit to visit as to whether I would give them four or five stars. Probably the ones that come out the best over time are the corn and the steamed beans, but everything shown in the photos are side dishes I would order again.

Sopapilla

Sopapilla

Sopapilla

The Sopapilla comes with a sweet syrup that is somewhat disappointing compared to the New Mexico sopapillas served with honey. It is free, though, and makes a good ending to the meal.

Other Observations
They do not have traditional Mexican aguas frescas drinks, but beer is served.

The former Poblano Grill at Hefner and Rockwell gave me the opportunity to try many menu items, and most are things I tried once and then moved on. With the new menu which includes items such as street tacos, though, as well as the enchiladas with tomatillo sauce which are available upon request, I think there is now a much better selection of choices.


RATING: 22

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full bar

Most Recent Visit: May 30, 2017

Number of Visits: 8

Best Items: Street Tacos, Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Street Tacos (Chicken)
star 5 Street Tacos (Carnitas)
star 5 Street Tacos (Beef)
star 4 Baja Tacos
star 5 Enchiladas (Tomatillo Sauce)
star 4 Refried Beans
star 4 Papas
star 4 Calabazitas
star 5 Steamed Beans
star 3 Tortilla Soup
star 4 Spicy Salsa
star 3 Chips
star 4 Queso
star 4 Sopapilla

Beverly’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Beverly’s Pancake House
3315 Northwest Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 848-5050
Beverly's

Beverly’s Pancake House


Beverly’s is one of the longest continually operating restaurants in Oklahoma City, and in fact was one of my favorite restaurants when I was growing up. I think their fried chicken, pancakes, and other popular items served as my version of fast food–something that was a special treat but it was not so expensive that my dad would have to severely limit the number of times we went.

For many years Beverly’s was a chain, with the restaurant at Northwest Highway (before it became an “Expressway”) and Pennsylvania Avenue as the one with which I was most familiar. This was known as Beverly’s Chicken In The Rough, a restaurant that specialized in pancakes and fried chicken in the days before these two items were put together and served in the same meal. As a restaurant/diner/coffee shop that is now open 24 hours a day and may have been then as well, it tried to satisfy people’s appetites at different times of the day. There was actually a wide range of good items, and not just pancakes or fried chicken.

Sometime after 2000 I remember the restaurant on Northwest Expressway being the only one left and rumored to be closing, but it then moved to its present location with what I assume to be new owners. I was not a regular enough customer to say that the new restaurant is exactly the same as before, but I know that it has kept the same concept. Beverly’s is probably most popular at breakfast, but it offers what people would expect in a coffee shop.

Breakfast
I was able to try the Pancakes at the new Beverly’s, and I can report that they are still good. In fact, as one of the few dishes I can successfully prepare at home, the pancakes in restaurants are increasingly becoming a disappointment to me (mainly because of the cooking oil they use). I thought everything about the flavor of Beverly’s pancakes, including the oil, were good.

Holiday Meals

Thanksgiving dinner

Special Thanksgiving dinner

As a restaurant that is open 24 hours and open on holidays, I found out that it also has a special menu on certain holidays. This includes a special Thanksgiving meal which includes most of the items I used to find at the now-closed Luby’s Cafeteria. Compared to the majority of times I had Thanksgiving dinner at Luby’s, though, I found Beverly’s to be better.

I will start by reporting that on my visit in 2017 the Thanksgiving Dinner was $12.99 (I believe this did not include the drink or dessert). Everything on the plate was good, and the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy were the items that I particularly thought were better than at Luby’s (they all tasted home made to me although I am not going to say they were exactly the same as if you cooked it yourself). The sweet potatoes, dressing, and pumpkin pie were on par with Luby’s, and are items I particularly liked at Luby’s as well as here. The green beans were good but I would say not special or memorable.

The main thing I can say about the Thanksgiving dinner is that they made a good effort, and I thought everything was good. The restaurant was busy when I went but not crowded, and we were served promptly.

Desserts

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie

The Pumpkin Pie was pretty much the way I like it. Beverly’s has a large pie case with multiple flavors, and I assume ones like pumpkin are seasonal.

Summing It Up
I am aware that any restaurant open 24 hours per day is going to have different shifts, different managers, and probably different qualities of food at various times. Beverly’s is what I would classify as a diner, and even though I thought the food was good, the restaurant is very casual. The old Beverly’s was the definition of a 1960’s coffee shop with what seemed to include the requisite amenities (I do not remember all the details but I think it included things like baskets of jellies and other condiments on the table, better than average seating and decoration, a view out the front window to a landscaped patio, etc.).

Some reviews I have read on other websites describe Beverly’s as not having the best food in Oklahoma City, but it is an old standby that is always there where you want it. I think this is a good description, and I would add that the food is better than much of which I would consider to be its competition.

At the moment, though, I have only tried a small sample of the food here.


RATING: 22

Cuisine: American
Cost: $$
Hours: Open 24 Hours Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 23, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Pancakes, Holiday Meals, Pumpkin Pie

Special Ratings
star 5 Pancakes
star 5 Turkey (from the Holiday menu)
star 4 Green Beans
star 5 Mashed Potatoes
star 5 Pumpkin Pie