Sam’s Southern Eatery–Oklahoma City, OK

Sam’s Southern Eatery
7011 W. Hefner Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 498-3107

Sam’s Southern Eatery is a rapidly expanding chain of Cajun style restaurants based in Shreveport, Louisiana, and which has recently opened several locations in Oklahoma with more planned. My first visit to this location and one in Shreveport were within a two week period, and as a result I was able to compare the recently opened location in Oklahoma City with a well established one.

I believe this location was still working out some of the details when I went, and the fact that the staff admitted this to me makes me more anxious to return. Probably a restaurant’s honesty and transparency is the most important factor to me other than the food itself, and the staff here left a very good impression on me.

As for the food, I didn’t think it matched what I got in Shreveport, but certain items were nevertheless very good. In case you wish to have a review in a nutshell, I will just say to do yourself a favor and order the red beans and rice (it is worth going just for this).

Gumbo

Gumbo and side dishes

Gumbo, fried roll, red beans and rice, cole slaw

Mostly wanting to know how the food here compared to Louisiana, I ordered a bowl of Gumbo. Whether it is very authentic or not, I thought it was flavorful. The shrimp tasted as if it had been frozen and there were not many vegetables, but still it was enjoyable. The most striking thing I thought was noticeable was that the broth had a very light color. Overall the gumbo was fine but not exceptional.

I thought the Red Beans and Rice was exceptional, and the recipe was successfully transported from Louisiana. It had a good smoky flavor, and I think this is the best item at the restaurant (that I have tried, at least).

The Cole Slaw was fine and better than at many of OKC’s barbecue restaurants, with the cabbage being noticeably fresh. The flavor was strong on the vinegar but not too much so.

The Fried Roll tasted very good but after the meal was the only thing I was tasting, so I probably do not want to repeat this experience (I think they offer a choice of either the roll or cornbread, and if so I will take the cornbread next time).

Other Comments
Each Sam’s restaurant is individually owned, and the food varies from one location to the next. The chain does give them the recipes and I believe supplies the ingredients (so that the food quality is constant). In comparing the Shreveport and Oklahoma City locations I found that the recipes for the gumbo were different (although the quality of the shrimp used was the same), the Shreveport restaurant ran out of red beans and rice when I was there (the Oklahoma City restaurant had plenty of everything despite being packed with customers), and each restaurant has its own “extras” (the Shreveport restaurant had home made cake for dessert).

The biggest seller at Sam’s is the shrimp. I did not try the fried shrimp at this restaurant, although the shrimp in the gumbo was equivalent to the one in Shreveport. The fried shrimp comes in very large pieces (my dining companion and I shared an order of 8 shrimp in Shreveport and we really thought 6 would be enough for the both of us).

Almost everything at the Oklahoma City location was good, but I think the lesson with the fried roll was that you shouldn’t fry something that is already good before you fry it (the Shreveport restaurant didn’t serve this item, perhaps for a good reason).


RATING: 21

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: I do not believe so, but I’m not sure

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 14, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item: Red Beans and Rice

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Beans and Rice
star 4 Gumbo
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 3 Fried Roll

Panang 2–Oklahoma City, OK

Panang 2
14101 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 752-8400
Panang 2

Panang 2 on N. May Ave. across from Quail Springs Mall


Panang 2 and Tana Thai are two Thai restaurants on North May Avenue in the Quail Springs area, and in my opinion they really could not offer more of a contrast and still be classified as Thai food. Panang is part of a “mini-chain” of three restaurants (No. 1 is in south OKC and a third restaurant is in Edmond). Tana Thai is a small family owned restaurant with more limited hours and seating, so I would say Panang is more upscale. The menu is much larger at Panang, although Tana Thai covers all the basics. One of the biggest differences I have noticed is in the portion size–Panang gives what I consider to be very large portions compared to the “normal” Thai restaurant (and to Tana Thai). Panang is in a more modern building with what I consider to be a better parking lot.

Many of Panang’s dishes have received a lower rating from me because they are sweet for my taste. Many of the dishes at Panang also have MSG, while the ones at Tana Thai do not as far as I know. Overall I consider Tana Thai to have better food, but with at least one notable exception (that being the ginger stir fried). The prices are about equal at both restaurants, so those who think the food is better at Tana Thai (as I do) also have to consider whether it is worth it to get what are generally smaller portions.

Panang on the south side

Panang in South OKC

Panang’s multiple locations indicate that it has a loyal following, and I definitely understand the reason for this. It has a comfortable atmosphere even if you come during off hours (such as the middle of the afternoon), take out orders are reliable, and Thai food is one of my favorites. The prices are reasonable for the quantity served, and I have never gone away hungry from any of their meals.

After eating the panang curry I made a note that it was easy on the stomach (this must have been when I was having some digestion problems), but I would say that Tana Thai is the same way. My preference for Tana Thai does not exclude Panang from being a good choice as well.

Lunch Specials

Basil chicken lunch special

Basil chicken lunch special

Panang has lunch combo meals Monday through Friday until 2:00 P.M. which give you a lot of food for prices that are a good deal lower than most of the dinner items. The choices change daily, but one I thought was fairly good was the Basil Chicken served on Wednesday (they also have basil pork on Monday and basil beef on Friday).

The lunch combos come with four items, but there is large flexibility in choosing these items (or you can get a double portion of any item). The one in the above photo came with rice, spring roll, and pad thai, along with what I thought was a generous portion of basil chicken.

While the basil chicken was not as spectacular as Tana Thai would serve it, I still though this was a good meal (the green beans were crisp and everything on the plate was good).

I am not a huge fan of the spring roll, and customers are allowed to substitute something else for it, but I think it goes well on the lunch combination plate.

Pad thai lunch special

Pad thai lunch combo with green curry

I had heard that the Green Curry at Panang was one of the best items, so I ordered this lunch combo when I came on a day that the green curry was available (my records show that it was a Thursday). I ordered it with a double portion of Pad Thai (the curry was very good but I think it would probably be better to skip the pad thai or just get a single portion of it).

Many dishes from the main menu are not available on the lunch, but in my opinion it would probably be worthwhile if they have the green curry, panang curry, or basil chicken.

Stir Fried Dishes

Ginger stir fried

Ginger stir fried with tofu

The Ginger Stir Fried dish is the item I have tried that I think is notably better than its counterpart at Tana Thai. I thought the blend of flavors was very good, and I appreciated the fact that Panang serves large portions on its dinner menu (I do not believe this item is available on the lunch special). There is a choice of different meats or tofu, and I thought the large amount of vegetables made it better than many dishes served at other restaurants. It also had a strong ginger flavor (one of the reasons I prefer this to the one at Tana Thai).

Spicy stir fried

Spicy stir fried with tofu

Another good dish is the Spicy Stir Fried (this one was also with tofu). This was made with a curry paste (made without coconut milk) which possibly makes it more flavorful and less sweet than the regular curries. There was a good basil flavor to the dish, and the green beans were a very good touch.

Sweet and sour stir fried

Sweet and sour stir fried with chicken

To me the Sweet and Sour Stir Fried was pretty much devoid of Thai flavors, and would not be one of my first choices for ordering, but the chicken and vegetables were good.

Curries

Panang curry

Panang curry with tofu

The two curries I have tried so far have been good choices, although I was informed that the curries are all made with MSG (so far I have not noticed that it is a problem for me when I eat the curry). The Panang Curry was especially good because of the lime leaves, and I would recommend this dish in spite of its sweetness and the MSG (which did not seem to be in a very great amount).

The Green Curry (shown in a lunch combo photo) is often cited by on-line reviews as the restaurant’s best dish, and I would also say it is a good one (but I would probably give the nod to the panang curry).

Fried Rice

Pineapple fried rice

Pineapple fried rice

The Pineapple Fried Rice seemed to be fairly devoid of flavor, although it can be made better by adding your own chiles from the condiment bar.

Thai Tea

Thai tea

Thai tea

My main problem with the Thai Tea here is the price. I definitely think it goes well with the food here, but it is more expensive than if you are getting regular tea.

This photo also shows the Thai condiments which are available, and which I think have turned some mediocre dishes I have been served into good ones (a good thing to keep in mind since the condiments are free).

Other Details
The spice level is higher than at other restaurants, so usually one star is enough for me (although the panang curry comes with a default level of 2, and I thought it was about right for this dish). A waiter at Panang told me, though, that pad thai and fried rice use dried chiles which have a lower heat level than on the other dishes.

I know that the curries have MSG and the ginger stir fired does not, but I do not know about the other dishes. I believe the MSG is used in small quantities, though.

Most of the food here is very sweet, and because of that I generally prefer other Thai restaurants. The ginger stir fried had a flavor that I thought was very good, though (with a good blend of flavors). The lime leaves make the panang curry special in spite of its sweetness.


RATING: 22

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

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 3, 2017
Number of Visits: 6
Best Items: Ginger Stir Fried, Panang Curry

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Thai Tea
MSG: Yes
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Panang Curry
star 5 Ginger Stir Fried
star 5 Green Curry
star 5 Basil Chicken Stir Fried
star 5 Spicy Stir Fried
star 4 Pineapple Fried Rice
star 4 Pad Thai
star 3 Sweet and Sour Stir Fried
star 4 Thai Tea

 

Menu (Aug. 2017):

 

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.

Those who want authentic Vietnamese flavors will find it here, I believe, but the choices are more limited than in the Asian District.

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.

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: 23

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

Most Recent Visit: Sep. 8, 2017
Number of Visits: 5
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):