Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

Important Notice:
An update of this review can be found at .

Chow's Chinese Restaurant

3033 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 949-1663

Chow's at N.W. 30th & May Ave.

Chow's Chinese Restaurant is definitely one of Oklahoma City's best sources for authentic Chinese food, with a wide variety of dishes at reasonable prices and many items not found at any other restaurant in OKC. Situated in a somewhat unlikely location away from OKC's "Asian District" in a nondescript building across the street from the high school I attended so many years ago, there is little on the outside to distinguish it from the typical suburban Chinese restaurant.

The menu reads like many found in large city "Chinatown" Chinese restaurants, with a large selection of fish, duck, meat, noodles, soup, and even casserole (hot pot) dishes. Most dishes are Hong Kong style, with a few spicy items available. The "familiar" dishes, such as orange chicken, can be ordered, and are better than most. The great opportunity in going to Chow's, though, especially if you have to travel a good distance to get here, is to be adventurous. The menu gives English explanations of all items, and even a Vietnamese translation of everything listed. Specials are also listed on a board that changes daily, and you can also ask if there is anything special that is available.

It is always a benefit to me when I can observe what the staff chooses to eat, since this gives an indication of special food that might be available, or something on the menu that I have not yet tried. On my initial visit I viewed the remains of a fish on the "staff table," and was informed that it was a flounder that came from the Gulf of Mexico and was being served as a special. While this may not be a traditional Chinese fish, it promised to be fresh, and was prepared Chinese style as Flounder with Ginger and Scallion Sauce. The fish was prepared either steamed or fried, but the waitress suggested that I try it fried. The whole flounder was covered with a delicious seasoned crust, and the brown sauce with ginger and scallions was served on the side. The flounder itself was probably as good as fish I have eaten on Padre Island, and the sauce was equally excellent. I found that parts of the fish were better plain (including the fins, which the waitress suggested I eat as a "good source of calcium"), while the white meat was good with the sauce. Overall it was a top-notch Chinese dish, with every bite being delicious (and eating the fins is optional).

Steamed fresh fish with ginger and scallion
Steamed fresh fish with ginger and scallion

I have since discovered that steamed fish is usually my preference rather than fried, and several types of fresh fish I have tried have all been good. All have to pass the chef's freshness and taste test in order to make it onto the menu as a regular dish, be on the changeable board as a special, or be available as a "verbal special" that the wait staff will be glad to explain. Some types of fish are also served stir-fried.

Fish maw soup
Fish maw soup with crab meat

Fish Maw Soup is one of the healthier seafood dishes, with a flavor and texture that will be apprieciated by those who enjoy some of the more exotic Chinese food. I probably would not care much for fish maw served plain, but it is delicious in the soup (this is one of the better versions of fish maw soup I have tried).

Fresh oysters
Fresh oysters

Fresh Oysters were a "verbal special," and are available when the ones at the market are of a sufficiently good quality to be served. Personally I did not care for them quite as much as the fish maw soup, but I suspect the opposite would be the case with most people (these oysters were quite good!). The sauce makes them even better.

Vegetable bean curd hot pot
Vegetable bean curd hot pot

One of my tests for a Chinese restaurant is the Fried Tofu with Vegetable Hot Pot. The fact that Chow's even offered it was a major plus for the restaurant, but the one here was probably as enjoyable as most I have eaten on the west coast. The sauce was delicious, and was probably the best part of the dish. The tofu was excellent--a critical element for me. Whole garlic cloves were included, probably one of the factors making this an outstanding dish. I think the one at Dot Wo in Edmond is probably better, but this one was quite good.

Pan fried noodles
Pan fried noodles

Chicken Pan Fried Noodles served as one of my ventures into authentic Hong Kong style noodle dishes. Chow's served it on top of crispy egg noodles (rice noodles may also be ordered) that became soft when exposed to the white sauce poured over the top. The chicken white meat was excellent, and the vegetables tasted as if they had been lightly stir-fried. This dish excited the taste buds as well as the other senses, with the crispy noodles providing a pleasing texture in both the crunchy and soft state, and the entire dish offering interesting flavor contrasts. I found the white sauce to be one of the best I have ever experienced, and worthy of ordering just to see what white sauce can become when prepared by competent chefs.

Spare ribs
Spare ribs with black bean sauce

For a substantial meat dish Spare Ribs with Black Bean Sauce is a good choice, with the pork ribs being slow cooked for extra tenderness.

Salty fish with tofu
Salty fish with tofu

Salty Fish with Tofu is one of the dishes I order at Chow's because it is so hard to find anywhere else. The name probably keeps many non-Chinese people from ordering it, and the fact that visually it looks like a white soup with tofu floating on top probably does not help. This is a favorite, though, among many who like traditional Hong Kong style food, and the salty fish provides a subtle rather than overwhelming flavor enhancement to the tofu and cilantro. I like this as a main dish, but for those ordering it for the first time I would probably say to order it as something to be shared among several persons to see how each person likes it.

Hot and sour soup
Hot and sour soup

Some Chinese style soups make a good meal, but the soups traditionally served as pre-meal appetizers are good as well. A case in point is the Hot and Sour Soup that had all the complexity I associate with good versions of the soup.

Thanks very much to Boogie Y, who wrote and suggested that I visit Chow's and review it as a public service to Chinese food aficionados (from the outside I probably would not have been very encouraged to try it). Boogie suggests trying the Crab Meat with Fish Maw Soup, Shrimp with Snow Pea, Beef with Green Onion, and Steamed Chicken with Ginger Scallion. I do not think a person can go very far wrong, though, with anything that is served.

Go to Index


Main Index



Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Tue.; (Lunch on Sun. only)
Accessible: Handicapped space is available, but not properly marked
Tea: Jasmine (brewed)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: No
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit
Aug. 19, 2009

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Special Fish in Season, Fish Maw Soup, Spare Ribs, Salty Fish with Tofu, Pan Fried Noodles

Special Ratings
Flounder: with ginger scallion sauce
Fish Maw Soup:
Salty Fish with Tofu:
Spare Ribs:
Fried Tofu with Vegetable Hot Pot:
Chicken Pan Fried Noodles:
Orange Chicken:
Chicken and Corn Soup:
Hot and Sour Soup: