Hi, I'm a longtime OKC resident compiling a list of decent ethnic restaurants. I'd be greatful for pointers to ones I haven't tried yet.
The real gems are hard to find anywhere. I spent a week in old town Alexandria recently, and while there were more nice restaurants per block of town than maybe per square mile of city here, the ones I tried didn't live up to the decor and pretty menus. Tourist traps, all of them. Sigh.
So what have we in OKC?
Two that have gone away - and if anyone knew these drop a line so we can commiserate: Tammy's Laundry and Korean Restaurant, and Thai Kitchen.
Tammy's had a quaint charm all its own. You'd step through a doorway into beat up sort of building, on your right was the laundromat with machines humming, and on your left was a small room with 3 or 4 picnic tables. Sit yourself down and Tammy, the korean proprietor, would appear to take your order. Then she and her mother would cook and serve the food. Real korean, not toned down for american palates - major garlic, major hot pepper, authentic korean herbs & spices, no MSG, no sweet. Tammy closed the restaurant some years ago to sell herbs; better money in it I guess.
Thai Kitchen was similarly modest, similar air of authenticity. It was downtown and only open for lunch. This was the place to go for larb so hot it'd peel layers of skin off the inside of your mouth. The place was always packed and folks waiting on the street to get in. Then the owner died. It's been reopened but I haven't been back to see how it's changed. I've tried all the other Thai places in the NW part of town and none really compare in my opinion.
My faves thus far include:
Old Germany way east of town in Choctaw. For being out in the middle of nowhere it's always packed and the prices are simply obscene. And worth it, every cent. Excellent german food. I adore the sausages.
Keller in the Kastle, in the city on McArthur just south of 10th, east side of street. Also german, food is outstanding.
Mediteranean Imports is a deli, import shop, and restaurant, with a great assortment of imported cheeses and cold cut you likely won't find anywhere else in Oklahoma. He gets very special treats like cheddar from Cheshire, which is a world of difference from even top rated NY and Wisconsin aged cheddar. He's got barrels of olives, ever variety you can imagine, dried fruits, bulk spices, cookies. And the food is great too. Can't say enough. Oh, and his prices are downright cheap. Find it on N May right near Founders Tower.
Magic Lamp is a deli, mostly, also mid-eastern food but with a different flair and approach from Medit Imports. I could eat at both of them on alternating days forver and not get bored. They are also on N May, at Grand, just across the street from Sumarai.
No faves for vietnamese right now. I used to like Le Sam's buffet and Lido. They are "ok", wouldn't say great. Pho shops are everywhere. I won't eat where smoking is allowed, and the pho shops are frequented by tobacco addicts. I've learned to make my own pho in self defense. I make the broth and chewy beefballs, great stuff.
No faves for korean either. Tammy spoiled me rotten. All the others use excessive MSG, too much sugar in everything, go lightly on the garlic, and no hot stuff at all. Even telling them to cook "as for a native" still gets the same watered down fare. I've given up.
Lots of japanese/sushi places around but sushi is mostly what they do. There's so much more to japanese cuisine. And when you think about it - who really wants to trust that raw, never-frozen fish smack dab in the middle of the continent is, well, fresh? Unless it was flown in, it's already a minimum of two weeks old before it gets wrapped in maki on your table.
I found a great mexican place couple weeks ago, I guess you would call it Mexican fusion, interesting sauces, delightful confluence of flavors. I licked my plate. It's in a strip mall at NW 50th and Shartel, north east side. Can't remember the name. Wish I knew of any other that's more than texmex tacos and chimichangas.
Don't rightly know if it qualifies as "ethnic" but my fave smokehouse is Big D's on Britton Rd between Penn and Western. What makes them different is how intensely smokey it all is. BBQ is a personal thing and tastes vary, but it you like it so intense that sauce might be a travesty, check it out.
All I can think of at the moment.
Drop me a line with your own faves.