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- Every Burger Served at White Flag is Creative
- Tulsa Chef Serves French Californian Cuisine with a Southwest Flare
- Neives’ Mexican Grill is Like Family
- KEO Keeps Getting Better
- There’s Something About Mary’s
For Authentic Chinese Dining Take a Trip to Asian Cuisine
If you want authentic Chinese cuisine, it’s worth a trip to the old Steak & Ale building out on 51st Street, within whose somewhat incongruous Tudor beams and rafters you’ll find Asian Cuisine. It doesn’t wow me the same way that our stellar newcomers Mandarin Taste and China Garden do. It’s just not as good. But it’s good enough. If a place like China Garden opened up in New York or San Francisco, well, it wouldn’t be the best in town but it would be good enough to merit a ten mile trip by public transport just to sample their amazing dishes. Asian Cuisine wouldn’t; you’d find much better food on every block of Chinatown. Still, this isn’t New York and Asian Cuisine features a different sort of Chinese food: Cantonese. It was Cantonese food that gave us Chinese-American cuisine. At least in New York, our first Chinese immigrants came from Tai Shan, a village northeast of Canton, and brought their native fare with them. But the food evolved and changed to please American palates. At Asian Cuisine, you’ll find the real deal.
Like this duck. Cantonese have a way with fowl. They serve it steamed, boiled (Hainan chicken), stir-fried, or, as here, roasted. In big Chinatowns, you’ll see shops devoted to roast meat with huge shiny lacquered spit-roasted ducks hanging in the front window. It’s unbelievably moist and juicy. The duck here is a bit drier but still tasty. It’s been rubbed in Chinese spices, probably five-spice powder since I detected the sharp, exotic notes of star anise. I wasn’t thrilled about the presentation. Usually duck is carefully arranged on the plate, but this one looks as if they just tossed it on the plate. Still, the duck, though dry, was delicious. For $9 it’s a great deal.
One of my favorite Cantonese dishes is casseroles. They’re cooked in a big clay pot, slowly steamed in complex sauces, and when the waiter takes the lid off the bubbling brew, you get a little scent of heaven.
But the casseroles (they call them hot pots) here come lidless in a metal ramekin, and the sauces are less subtle, far too heavy on the garlic. Still, this is an authentic casserole. It features tofu, chicken, and mushrooms in a garlic-laden broth flavored with saltfish. It’s a casserole I’ve had many times in New York Chinatown. The saltfish gives it a rich and funky taste which I love but my dining companions hated. But there are lots of other casseroles to choose from, including seafood and tofu, assorted meat and tofu, and clam, all of which are authentic.
Cathe ordered another authentic Cantonese dish…
Curry! Yes, curry. About 400 years ago, Portuguese sailors brought curry from India to southern China (landing at Macao). The idea caught on. Once, in New York, I went to an elegant Chinese menu and saw “seafood Portuguese style”. I ordered it, expecting an elegant fusion dish, with Iberian elements. What I got was a big bowl of gloppy curry. And that’s what we got here. There wasn’t much curry flavor and again it looks as if they dumped the food on the plate. (I’m biased because at Mandarin Taste the food is plated so beautifully.) I wasn’t a fan of this curry but it didn’t much matter. I gorged myself on the casserole and the delicious duck.
4710 E 51 Street
My first visit 3 years ago: http://tulsafood.com/asian/asian-cuisine-another-authentic-chinese-meal
Brian Schwartz: Author
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.