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Golden Phoenix Chinese B.B.Q. & Vietnamese Restaurant

2728 N. Classen Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 524-3988

Golden Phoenix in the same building as Chinatown Supermarket

Golden Phoenix (or Kim Phung in Vietnamese) is probably the premier Chinese barbecue restaurant in Oklahoma City. Formerly known as First Chinese B-B-Q, part of a chain out of Dallas, Golden Phoenix serves much the same kind of food (although I assume with a change of owners). One of the most notable features of the restaurant is the array of hanging barbecued ducks, chickens, and other animals in a display case seen upon entering the front door.

Hanging ducks at Golden Phoenix
Golden Phoenix is well known for its display of hanging ducks

Also notable is the large menu of Chinese items that I will not even try to list. This restaurant is quite different from the suburban Chinese places that specialize in sweet and sour and General Tsou's chicken. First Chinese B-B-Q had an "American" menu which I mistakenly believed would be prepared in the traditional Chinese style, but Golden Phoenix has a few of these dishes. Golden Phoenix's menu concentrates on the type of food that would be found in many "Chinatown" restaurants in large cities with substantial Asian populations. Most of these authentic restaurants specialize in one particular aspect of Chinese food. In the case of Golden Phoenix, the specialty would have to be barbecued meats.

It is somewhat unfortunate that the term "barbecue" is used for several types of meat served here and in other Chinese restaurants. Oklahoma, one of the few states where American barbecue that is worthy of the term is widely available, has its own concept of this cooking technique. Chinese barbecue shares the technique of slow cooking the meat, but the meat can be anything from pork ribs to duck. The smallest portions of the traditional barbecued meat are a half duck or chicken, except for some steamed rice dishes that come with individual portions of duck and other meats.

I learned that there are two chefs at the restaurant, one Chinese and one Vietnamese. First Chinese B-B-Q had a Chinese menu with Vietnamese specials posted on changeable message boards. The new restaurant has a menu that lists both Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, and I think this is a reflection of the popularity of Vietnamese dishes here.

Congee
Congee, or rice pudding

Congee, a traditional Chinese dish of rice pudding, makes a good breakfast or appetizer. Even though it comes with fish, chicken, pork, or other types of filler and flavoring, it is not generally considered a dish Chinese like to eat exclusively for a meal except for breakfast. Knowing that I do not generally expect a whole lot out of a bowl of congee, though, I thought the one here was very good. Grand House, across the street from this restaurant, is the only other place I know in town that serves congee (Grand House only has it on weekends and when dim sum is served), but even with a lack of competition in town I thought the rice pudding at Golden Phoenix compared favorably with ones I have tried in other cities.

Pan Fried Noodles were recommended as an authentic dish from the Chinese chef's home region of Canton, and consisted of a wreath of crispy noodles around the edge that resembled a bird's nest with the customer's choice of meats and vegetables on top. Mine had a light brown sauce, and was thoroughly enjoyable. This one had a larger portion of noodles than others served in Oklahoma City, but they did not scrimp on the vegetables. It would not be advisable to attend a business meeting after eating this delicacy, however, since a heavy garlic flavoring is a key component to its essence.

The Vegetable and Bean Curd Hot Pot had very good tofu, vegetables, and sauce, but I thought could have used some ginger. It was more expensive than other ones in the city, and contained more shitake mushrooms than I would have liked.

Flat noodles with beef and vegetables
Flat noodles with beef and vegetables

Several types of Chinese noodles are served, in addition to noodle dishes on the Vietnamese menu. Beef Flat Noodles was a delicious dish with a large assortment of vegetables mixed in with tender sliced beef. There are so many noodle dishes served I think it will take some experimentation to find the best ones.

Lunch specials were served at First Chinese B-B-Q, but I am not sure of their status at Golden Phoenix. Some of the lunch dishes, such as the Shredded Chicken with Garlic Sauce, did not seem to showcase the restaurant's best cooking. The egg roll served at lunch was forgettable. The hot and sour soup was good but not exceptional.

Pork chop
Vietnamese style pork chop

I have come to believe, though, that the Vietnamese menu actually contains the most notable food at Golden Phoenix. One example was a Pork Chop recommended by the waiter as one of his favorites, and it turned out to be one of my favorites as well. This came with tender meat, but the flavoring was so good that this is what made it so memorable. Most of the meats at Golden Phoenix have MSG, but the pork chop "didn't have much," and I was able to eat it with no ill effects. I really think this was one of the best Vietnamese dishes I have had in OKC.

Bun bo Hue
Bn b Hu

Bn B Hu is a popular soup in Vietnam, but Golden Phoenix is one of the few places that serves it in Oklahoma. It has several types of meat and meat substitutes (such as congealed pig blood) that I probably would not normally eat, but with several types of meat served, most people will probably find at least a few that they like. This is a deliciously flavored soup cooked with beef bones and lemongrass for flavor, and I found it to be surprisingly good. At least from the description of this dish I read on the Internet, I think the one at Golden Phoenix is about as authentic as can be found in the U.S. Not everything that is authentic is good, but I thought this one was (particularly the broth).

The jasmine tea brewed with loose leaves was excellent, and if I remember correctly was served "on the house."

First Chinese B-B-Q had a large selection of bubble teas, but since my first visit to Golden Phoenix was in the winter I was not looking to see if they are still served.

If you are ready for some of the more authentic and unusual Chinese dishes, this seems to be one of the best places to try them. I did not care for some dishes as much as at other restaurants, but some, such as the congee, were surprisingly good. Some of the dishes I did like a lot, such as the pan fried noodles, have been equally good or better at other restaurants (such as Chow's), so Golden Phoenix would not necessarily be my only choice for authentic Chinese food, but I do like to include it in my "rotation of restaurants" when I am able to visit the area around N.W. 23rd and Classen.

The Vietnamese menu, though, has seemed to be a better bet. I have really enjoyed what I have tried, and other more well known Vietnamese restaurants (such as Lido) have been somewhat disappointing to me. I would definitely say to try out what Golden Phoenix has to offer. The Vietnamese menu is not extensive, but the food seems to be good quality.

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RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese & Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Wed.
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (loose leaves) house
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit
Feb. 22, 2009

Number of Visits: 7

Best Items
Vietnamese Pork Chop, Bn B Hu, Pan Fried Noodles, Congee

Special Ratings
Vietnamese Pork Chop:
Bn B Hu:
Bean Curd Hot Pot:
Pan Fried Noodles:
Flat Noodles with Beef:
Shredded Chicken with Garlic Sauce:
Congee:



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