Kim Wah–The Village, OK

Kim Wah (Closed)
2925 W. Britton Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
Kim Wah in The Village

Kim Wah in The Village


*** Link to the previous review (until 2016)

Kim Wah has been one of my favorite Asian restaurants in north Oklahoma City for probably more than twenty years (I do not know the exact date it opened). It was originally a branch of Lido Vietnamese Restaurant (a prominent restaurant in OKC’s Asian District), but eventually put a large emphasis on its Chinese buffet (which Lido does not have) and shifted the menu mostly to Chinese food.

In 2016, though, new owners took over the restaurant with the idea of keeping it the way it has been for the last 20 years. I have heard from people and seen comments on the Internet that this may not be working out as well as intended. I have a theory about why this is the case, but with only one visit to the new restaurant I cannot be very dogmatic about it.

What I will say, though, is that the previous owners had possibly the best Chinese buffet in Oklahoma City. I do not care much for Chinese buffets, but this was the one place (after several others had closed) that I thought was actually very good. It would be hard for the new owners, or for anybody, to match what was here before. Some Internet comments indicate that it is not the same as before, but I do not have first-hand experience with the buffet.

The food I ordered from the menu, though, was as good as before, or maybe better. The “old” Kim Wah was very consistent, and I do not know yet if the new restaurant will be the same way. I thought they got off to a good start, though.

Vermicelli Bowls
I have always thought this was one of the best restaurants for vermicelli bowls, and for years they were duplicates of the ones served at Lido. In addition to the good flavor, Kim Wah has always given good portions and has included mint in the vegetable mix. The variety of bowls has also been very good, with lemongrass being my favorite.

Lemongrass chicken vermicelli bowl

Lemongrass chicken vermicelli bowl

My one experience since new owners took over has so far been very good as far as the Vietnamese food is concerned. The lemongrass chicken has kept most of the elements it had before (including the mint), and if anything I thought it had more intense flavors than before.

The fish sauce was still not as “fishy” as I have found in west coast restaurants, but I think most local people will consider this to be a good thing (especially the past customers of Kim Wah who want the food to remain the same it has been since the restaurant opened).

Hot Tea
The old Kim Wah switched from loose leaf tea to tea bags several years ago. The new restaurant still has hot tea, and has added a loose leaf style Vietnamese tea that I thought was very good (although it may not be everybody’s “cup of tea,” if I can make a very bad pun).

Buffet
They still have the Chinese buffet. Other web sites have comments about whether or not it may still be good. At the old restaurant I thought this had evolved into one of the best buffets in the city.

Overall Comments
The Vietnamese food I tried seemed to be equal to the best I have had in the Asian District. I certainly would recommend the Vietnamese food here.

The selection of Vietnamese items, though, is very small (as it was at the old Kim Wah). I used to order items not on the menu, but I do not know if these are still available. Besides the vermicelli bowls the menu includes Vietnamese hot and sour soup (canh chua). Pho was a very popular non-menu item, and I would think this is still being served.

I was pleasantly surprised that the new owners were able to maintain the basic elements of the vermicelli bowl that had been there before, but also to give it a little more intense Vietnamese flavor.


RATING: 23

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

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 10, 2016
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Green (bags)/ Vietnamese Tea (loose leaves)
MSG: No
Buffet: Yes (Chinese)

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl

Ricardo’s–Warr Acres, OK

Ricardo’s Mexican Kitchen (Closed)
5801 N.W. 50th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 470-8700
Ricardo's

Ricardo’s Mexican Kitchen


Update Sep. 2016: Ricardo’s was one of the shortest lived restaurants I have ever seen, but it now has a new owner and is called Gloria Mexican Kitchen (Gloria has the same phone number as Ricardo’s). The gentleman who was the cook at Ricardo’s is still the cook, and is one of the owners of the new restaurant. They told me the food was the same, and from my sampling I think it might be even better. The menu has changed, and they will no longer be offering Oaxacan style dishes. There are now fewer choices on the menu, but the items that were there before are still being offered at the same price. The bottom line is that this is still one of the best places in OKC to come for Mexican food.


The complexity of Mexican food makes it one of the most interesting to explore, but also one of the hardest to categorize. In Mexico, restaurants are divided somewhat along the line of “alta cocina” versus “street food,” with a somewhat limited third category in the middle that would correspond to our “family restaurants” with moderate prices.

In Mexico there is also a separate cuisine for each state, although many individual dishes tend to be regional or even national. It is much the same as food being very similar in Oklahoma as in the adjoining states, with marked differences being found in specific items such as barbecue.

Ricardo’s Mexican Kitchen is a new restaurant in Warr Acres, and although it joins a long list of Mexican restaurants in the Oklahoma City area, this one is a little different. The owner is from Oaxaca, a Mexican state renowned for its cuisine and used by Rick Bayless as the template for much of the food served in his Chicago restaurants. The now closed Adobe Grill in Oklahoma City also served this type of food.

Ricardo’s serves few of the dishes that were available at Adobe Grill, but I believe it is still in the early stages of rolling out its menu. For instance, the owner serves mole on weekends, but when I went on a Saturday with the hopes of ordering it, he said it is only available “sometimes.” I got the impression that there will be more of this type of food, though, as the restaurant picks up more customers.

Although Ricardo’s is still a little short on exotic dishes from southern Mexico that are hard to pronounce, it still has very impressive food that tends very much toward upscale (“alta cocina”) cooking. At the same time, this is done with family restaurant prices (the bang for the buck is one of my biggest reasons for recommending this restaurant).

Another very major reason I like Ricardo’s is the consistency of the food. Everything I have tried has been flavorful and high quality. Ricardo’s holds a tenet that I think all Mexican restaurants should follow–high quality should apply as much to the chips, salsa, beans, and rice as it does to the featured main dishes on the menu.

Red Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Enchiladas with ranchero sauce

My first sampling of Ricardo’s food was with the Red Enchiladas (technically, enchiladas with ranchero sauce). There are two parts to the menu, and this is one of the items from the first part (the less expensive items that do not contain as much meat).

I do not think these were actually the best enchiladas I have had in Oklahoma City. However, it was very refreshing that the only choices available are authentic Mexican style enchiladas (I think they also have ones with green sauce). It is very hard to find this type of enchilada with red sauce, and I found the ones here to be very enjoyable.

The beans, rice, and salad were also the real deal, although after a couple of visits I have found the beans to be better than the rice.

Quesadilla
On the same visit I sampled an item that has turned out to be one of my favorites–the Quesadilla. This is a large tortillas with meat items and cheese, like other restaurants prepare. The one here, though, had more flavor and tasted fresher than many of the others.

Pollo Costeño

Pollo costeño

Pollo costeño

The Pollo Costeño was from the second portion of the menu that supposedly gives you a more substantial meal (I say “supposedly” because I think the enchiladas from the first part of the menu were just about as filling). The pollo costeño had very good chicken and real Mexican cheese. The sauce was listed as a “tomato” sauce, but I will tell readers that it was also very spicy (with about four out of five chiles on my “chile scale”). The dish had a smokey flavor that tasted very Mexican (but this was not my favorite flavor). One thing I can say about the dish is that I think it was totally authentic, and not Americanized.

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad

Chicken salad

Once again one of my favorite dishes here turned out to be one that I only sampled, but this time I got a photo of it. The Chicken Salad is much more than its name implies–it has large pieces of chicken with cheese and guacamole on a tortilla. The chicken was the same as on the pollo costeño, but I liked the seasoning better on this one. This dish was also a little bit spicy (as contrasted by the quesadilla, which is a good choice if you do not like things spicy).

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Both the chips and salsa were very noteworthy for being the type of quality that would be found in Mexico or along the border. The red colored salsa and the guacamole were both spicy, while the darker one was mild (and all were good). I think the cheese sauce is an accommodation to Oklahoma tastes, and is not authentic, but it was very good as well.

The chips were excellent, and I think they are prepared the way chips should be.

Some Other Notes
There was conflicting information posted about the hours, but apparently they recently began closing on Wednesday evenings.

It does not seem to be particularly strong on Mexican drinks, as Abel’s across the street is, but I think they do have horchata. I tried the iced tea, and it was good.

Abel’s is another of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and it may be good to make some comparisons and contrasts between the two. Actually the only comparisons that come to mind are that both restaurants are very good and both pay attention to details such as the chips, salsa, rice, beans, etc.

One contrast is that Abel’s specializes in food from southwestern Mexico while Ricardo’s has food from the southeast (although both seem to have dishes from all over Mexico). Abel’s is quite large with an extensive menu, while Ricardo’s is a small operation and has fewer items available. Abel’s has Americanized dishes in addition to the authentic ones. At Ricardo’s I would say they have Americanized some of the presentation of the food, but not the flavors or ingredients as Abel’s has done (for instance, Ricardo’s only uses Mexican style cheese).

Ricardo’s serves street tacos, but mostly has plate dinners with rice, beans, or other extras such as salad. So far I would say Abel’s is better for street tacos simply because they have a much larger selection, but also because they have the best tacos al pastor I have found in the city. I would also say I have been more pleased with the plate dinners at Ricardo’s than at Abel’s. In short, both restaurants have different things, but both restaurants do them very well.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open daily except Wed. evening & Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 30,2016

Number of Visits: 2

Best Items: Quesadillas, Chicken Salad

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Chicken Salad
star 5 Pollo Costeño
star 5 Quesadillas
star 5 Beans
star 4 Rice
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

Maya Latin Cuisine–Bethany, OK

Maya Latin Cuisine (Closed)
3929 N. College Ave.
Bethany, OK
Maya Latin Cuisine

Maya Latin Cuisine


Maya Latin Cuisine opened in the same building that housed Inca Latin Cuisine, and although the Incas and Mayas are from different continents, their food traditions seem to be very similar.

There is still a substantial Maya population in Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and this is the homeland of the restaurant’s owner as well.  Some of the former dishes from Inca Latin Cuisine, representing Peru, are served as well.  In fact, the name “Latin Cuisine” represents what the restaurant is trying to do– offer popular dishes from areas throughout Mexico as well as Central and South America.

The main thing I need to inform readers about is that Maya Latin Cuisine is not open in the evenings (this seems to be the case with many restaurants in Bethany).  It is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily except Sunday, and on Friday it stays open until 8:00 pm.

To me it seemed surprisingly upscale for a lunch place, and while dinners do not come in massive portions, they do consist of high quality meats and side dishes.

Pollo Asado
The owner is from Guatemala, and I asked if the server could point out the menu items that were Guatemalan.  It turned out to be about 20 percent of the menu– not a large number, but it points out the fact that this is a Latin American restaurant and not strictly one that is Guatemalan.

Pollo asado chapin

Pollo asado chapin

I ordered the Pollo Asado Chapin, which was one of the Guatemalan choices.  This was a marinated chicken breast with a Guatemalan style salsa coban.  I thought the flavoring was good, but the most impressive part was the quality of the chicken.

As much as I appreciate good chicken, though, the best part of the plate was probably the Plantains, which brought out the flavor that I always thought plantains could have.

The Black Beans were equally good, although this is something that is more readily available at other restaurants.

The Russian Salad was something that I could easily skip, although I did enjoy it.

Enchiladas Mexicanas

Enchiladas mexicanas

Enchiladas mexicanas

Shown in this photo is a item I sampled– the Enchiladas Mexicanas with a beef, chicken, and cheese enchilada.  I had a bite of all three, but I thought the chicken was best.

These enchiladas were not spicy, and had onions and cilantro on top.  I think they were supposed to be Yucatan style enchiladas (the area where the Mayas live), but I don’t have the experience to tell whether they were authentic or not.  They seemed to be good gourmet style enchiladas for those who do not want them very spicy.

A Preliminary Assessment

I have been to Guatemala, and I would not rate this restaurant as being very high on the authenticity scale.  In the first place, when I was there people could not afford much meat, and they certainly would not be eating the type of meat I had in the pollo asado chapin.  However, I am always willing for restaurants to provide something better than would probably be served in their home country, and this dish quite possibly meets this criterion.

I still think, though, that Chiltepes (and other restaurants in town) have more of an authentic Guatemalan flavor.  I do not say necessarily that they are better restaurants, because the chicken here was top notch.  I just think that Chiltepes is more authentic.

On the Mexican food, I was a little disappointed that it did not have the flavors of the old Adobe Grill, but I need to try some more items and make some more comparisons.

The thing to remember, though, is that this is not a Guatemalan restaurant or a Mexican restaurant, but one which serves Latin American food (including Peruvian).  I still need to try some more items.

I will say, though, that it is definitely worthwhile getting the plantains.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Latin American
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun. (closes at 8 pm Fri–6 pm other days)
Accessible: Yes (but parking is off site)
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: May 20,2016

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Pollo Asado Chapin, Plantains

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pollo Asado Chapin
star 5 Enchiladas Mexicanas
star 5 Plantains
star 4 Russian Salad