Oklahoma City, OK
My impression of Tokyo Japanese Restaurant is that it is trying hard to provide the most authentic Japanese food in Oklahoma City. The heart of Japanese food is fish, and I know how difficult it has been throughout the years to get fresh seafood to the Great Plains (although Oklahoma has never lacked for its own version of fresh water fish). Tokyo has stuck with it, though, and now I think the state has a much better supply of fish and seafood that is worthy of the experienced chefs here.
Of course, Japanese food also includes dishes made with chicken, beef, and pork, and these have always been among the best choices at Tokyo. It is really a “full service” restaurant that serves sushi and all the important dishes generally found in Japanese restaurants.
I can tell from looking at Tokyo’s converted old house that it is not trying to be trendy, it is just concentrating on good food. People might be surprised how pleasant the interior is, though, from looking at it from the outside. The wood floors and Japanese decor in the dining room remind me of the better west coast Japanese restaurants.
The Miso Soup is fresh, and one of the best. Nowadays many restaurants have good miso, and I almost take it for granted. Tokyo seemed to be the first one to set the standard in OKC, though, so it remains my sentimental favorite.
A large side Salad is also available on the dinner menu (usually at no extra cost), and the Japanese style dressing is excellent. I did not think the lettuce rated it as a five-star salad, but with the dressing served it is definitely one of my favorites. The “Happy Lunch” comes with a small serving of salad, and I find this to be one of the highlights of eating lunch at Tokyo.
About 90% of my visits to Tokyo have been at lunch, when I not only experience lower prices but I can also get some of the most flavorful and healthy lunches in town. An outstanding feature of Tokyo is the “Tokyo Box” combination plate served with some of the restaurant’s best dishes. The box lunch is probably the most substantial lunch served in terms of the quantity of food, and it consists of the customer’s choice of foods from two groups (one of which has sushi as one of the choices). The sushi is whatever the chef wishes to serve, but a California roll can be ordered instead of nigiri or sashimi. The box lunch comes with miso soup, usually making it the best deal for lunch even though it is more expensive than the other plates.
The “Happy Lunch” comes with one main item and kakiage (shredded vegetable tempura), rice, and salad, but no soup. This offers a cost saving if you do not want sushi, and between the salad and the kakiage this makes an excellent and satisfying lunch.
The choice of lunch entrées is almost as large as on the dinner menu, and comes at a lower price. I do not know which items have a salad (although the Happy Lunch has a small salad), and other than the Tokyo Box I do not know if anything else includes miso. I would expect, though, that in some way the lunches include less food and therefore have a lower price.
My favorite item to include in both the Tokyo Box and Happy Lunch is Salmon Teriyaki with a very thick and flavorful teriyaki sauce. Atlantic salmon is most common in Oklahoma, but other varieties may be available at times. I was told that the chef buys the best fish available at the market, so that there is not just one type of salmon that is served. Tokyo is arguably the best place in Oklahoma City to get salmon teriyaki (and this is not even counting the excellent sauce to top it off). Unfortunately I cannot say that the salmon is one of Tokyo’s best items because Oklahoma is very far from the source. It is by far my favorite item for lunch, though, because I love salmon and Tokyo serves the best that is available.
The chefs at the sushi bar are probably the most experienced in Oklahoma City, and I would certainly say they are among the best. To me they exhibit all the characteristics of a good sushi chef: they find the freshest fish available, they know how to prepare it correctly, and they will be honest with the customer to recommend the “chef’s choice” for the best sushi (whether or not it is listed as a special).
Sushi can be ordered from the sushi menu, on combination lunch or dinner plates, or from the “chef’s recommendations of the day.” Sushi on the box lunch usually includes tuna and salmon, while the sashimi option includes a couple of additional choices such as a crab stick and octopus. The “chef’s recommendations” (the fresher, higher quality sushi) are sometimes included on sushi plates, but it is best to ask. I have found the tuna to usually be the best sushi served in the box lunch.
Of course the chefs here can prepare California rolls and other types of rolls, but I am not a big fan of these and would not judge a sushi chef’s talent based on these dishes. The Philadelphia Roll (made with cream cheese) was good, but not what I consider to be traditional Japanese sushi.
One advantage of going for dinner is that there seems to be a more extensive sushi selection, and I usually have more time to experiment with it. For one of my dinner starters I ordered the “Chef’s Recommendation” of Yellowtail Nigiri, which was quite fresh and just about the same as can be found on the west coast. Sushi is a food that I like but only order occasionally, and so far Tokyo has been on the top of my list of places to order it in Oklahoma City. I find Tokyo to satisfy the test for having fresh fish and knowing how to prepare it.
For nigiri the rice is supposed to be as important as the fish, but I am afraid I would have to say the fish is much more important. Still, though, I would rate the rice here as being very good, and does not come apart as easily as some others served with sushi.
The Salmon Sushi also has impressed me with its flavor and red color, and is one of the varieties served in the lunch box (but tuna is probably my favorite).
Katsu Don is a dish that is very traditional, filling, and reasonably priced. This was made with a fried pork cutlet with an egg omelet and onions over steamed rice (but it is filling even without the rice). The egg was placed around the edge of the meat (and is the lighter colored substance in the photo). A red colored ginger was added for flavor. I thought everything about this dish was very good, although the flavor was not as exciting as with some other dishes.
The Chicken Katsu had one of the best sauces I have found in any restaurant, and the breading was quite good. This is one of the choices for lunch (in the Tokyo Box), or is available on the dinner menu (in the dinner Tokyo Box or as a separate item).
A bowl of Tempura Udon I tried from the dinner menu was outstanding, with a dark, rich broth and good noodles. The shrimp and vegetable tempura was the same excellent quality as the one served at lunch. I have always enjoyed Tokyo’s tempura dipping sauce (if you order tempura separately or on the side).
For lunch a bowl of Udon is available without the tempura. This soup is not much more expensive than the miso (if you order the miso a la carte), but the udon is more filling.
Nabeyaki Udon comes with chicken, shrimp tempura, fish cake, egg, carrot, and shitake mushrooms. I think this dish is very “Japanese style,” and is a good alternative to tempura udon.
Vegetable Tempura is one of the options for lunch or dinner and is excellent. I think the plates normally offer a combination of shrimp and vegetable tempura, but it is so seldom that I find restaurants that can make good vegetables that I like to order this at Tokyo.
Beef Teriyaki is possibly the best dish at the restaurant when judging it as a food reviewer (although I probably like the salmon teriyaki better just because I like salmon). The beef teriyaki seemed to be done perfectly in terms of the quality of the meat, the mushrooms, and the sauce. The sauce had a little bit of sweetness, but was not overly so as I think is done in some of the more Americanized restaurants.
The order of teriyaki shown in the preceding photo shows beef mixed with chicken. I thought the Chicken Teriyaki was also good, but not as flavorful as the beef. The bowl in the middle is for dipping the kakiage. A small bowl of seaweed on the side provides extra flavor and nutrition.
Green Tea is on the house and served in a cup (when you need refills they will come around and serve you). Because of what most restaurants charge for either iced or hot tea, I think it is a very good deal when you do not have to pay for it (and the tea here is very good).
This section reveals one of my secrets–I like to come to Tokyo on my birthday because they give me a free dessert. Actually, it started out the other way around–I went to Tokyo on my birthday because I considered it a special treat, and I did not know they gave free desserts. In any case, they can always count on my business whether it is my birthday or not.
The Tempura Ice Cream is one that I particularly enjoyed, although I do not know if this is normally a “free” one (but birthday desserts are denoted by a candle on top and are always free). Sometimes, though, the regular ice cream is just as interesting such as the plum ice cream shown above (which is not one of their normal flavors).
I have found all of the desserts to be more than I want to eat and sufficient for sharing (which works out great for my “birthday parties”).
Tokyo is a friendly, comfortable, and moderately priced restaurant where you can feel at home, especially if you are a regular customer. The sushi chefs are among the most experienced I have met, and this is one of the key factors that makes a good sushi restaurant.
I would have to say, though, that the regular menu offers the food I order most often, and enjoy the most. I do not think I can point to any single item that is the “best I have ever eaten,” but Tokyo has a consistent quality of which everything is good, and some are hard to match even in larger cities.
The sushi at Tokyo has always been surprisingly good compared to other restaurants in OKC and the Southwest, and I think even though the fish here is not the same as in seaport cities, the sushi chefs know how to find the best that is available and to make the most of it.
I do not place great importance on a sushi restaurant having more variety than other places just for the sake of saying it has a “large menu,” but it is good to know Tokyo has a relatively large selection. This, along with its quality, make Tokyo a winner. The fact that much of the cooked food is as good if not better than the sushi keeps Tokyo as my choice for “best Japanese in OKC.” If this ever changes it will probably not be because Tokyo will have gone downhill, it will be that someone else has the skills and makes the effort to provide the same quality. Such skills seem to be all too rare in the Japanese restaurant business.
Hours: Closed Mon. & Closed Sun. lunch (also closes between 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm)
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Jan. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Beef Teriyaki, Chicken Katsu, Tempura Udon, Nabeyaki Udon, Miso Soup, Sushi (chef’s recommended items)