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Grand House China Bistro

2701 N. Classen Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 524-7333

Grand House Restaurant

Grand House is probably the most well known Chinese restaurant in Oklahoma City's "Asian District" along Classen Boulevard, and is certainly one of the most popular. Serving "bistro style" food, I tend to think this concept is mostly an excuse to charge higher prices, and even to charge extra for such items as fortune cookies. For the most part, though, Grand House also serves higher quality food than most Chinese restaurants in the city. The décor, jazz music played over the sound system, customer service, and even the hot brewed tea, have all made me feel that it is a special experience to go to Grand House.

Dim Sum

Grand House is probably best known for its dim sum. These traditional Chinese dumplings and other snacks are served on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays until 3:00 p.m. Even at a late hour dim sum trays are still floating around, and the selection of items does not seem to suffer. Items can also be ordered from the dim sum menu and will be cooked to order. While ordering the dim sum is not quite like being in a "Chinatown" restaurant in a major west coast city, it does provide some welcome variety to Oklahoma City's restaurant scene. Sundays and holidays seem to have the greatest variety of dim sum selections. If at all possible, plan to go on the Chinese New Year.

Some of Grand House's dim sum items
Chinese broccoli, steamed shrimp and leek dumplings, and congee served as dim sum

Most of the dim sum dumpling and other items contain pre-prepared sauces, and almost all of it contains MSG. One strategy is to ask for things that can be prepared from scratch in the kitchen, such as Chinese Broccoli. This was a delicious vegetable with a Chinese sauce that was substantial enough to take care of a large part of my appetite.

Congee and sticky buns
Congee and sticky buns are some of my favorite dim sum dishes

Sticky Buns are steamed, and thus contain no MSG. Although I think these and Chinese broccoli make a good meal, they do not provide the kind of variety typically associated with dim sum. My suggestion would probably be to try other items unless you know you have a low tolerance to MSG. The following paragraphs describe some of the items I have enjoyed (but which contained MSG).

The Congee (rice porridge) had enough ginger and other flavors to taste much better than it looked, and has been one of my favorite choices. Grand House servings are quite small, and I have found that I can go across the street to Golden Phoenix for a much larger bowl at about double the cost (but more than double the quantity). I also think the one at Golden Phoenix does not have as high a concentration of MSG. Still, the congee at Grand House was a good example of this dish.

An order of Steamed Shrimp and Scallop Dumplings from the dim sum cart was excellent, as well as other types of dumplings I have had.

The Leek Dumplings with shrimp were excellent in the "fried dumpling" category. Although it is usually served on the trays, the ones I have ordered from the kitchen have been even better. This dish has a sweet and sour sauce that is very well done--not the syrupy glop served at most restaurants.

Shrimp and Leek Dumplings are also served steamed, and are one of my favorites. They seem to have particularly high concentrations of MSG, but I have had fewer problems with the fried ones.

A Sticky Rice Ball cooked in a large leaf looked very interesting but the flavor did not match the west coast versions I have tried.

Flan and sesame balls for dessert
Flan and sesame balls for dessert

A true dim sum experience should probably include dessert, and these have the added benefit of being made without MSG. Coming from El Paso I was not overly impressed with the Flan, but it was fresh and good.

The Sesame Balls were excellent, and I think are one of the best desserts served. The sesame balls contain fruit inside, which may vary from time to time.

In general the desserts are just about the best part of the dim sum, and I always make it a point to order something from the dessert tray.

Menu Items

Ordering from the menu is not such a simple proposition, as there are three menus--dinner, lunch, and the Chinese menu. Patrons are automatically offered a lunch or dinner menu, depending on the time of day, but some of the more unique and interesting selections are found on the Chinese menu (the menu has English descriptions for non-Chinese speakers).

One of the best items I have sampled from the Chinese menu was Tofu with XO sauce. The sauce had a scallop flavor and seemed to be one of the better examples of complex Chinese cooking.

On another visit I asked if they had clay pot dishes, and found that these are also on the Chinese menu, listed as Casserole Dishes. The one I tried with tofu and vegetables had one of the best sauces I have tasted in OKC, although the vegetables were not as exciting as at Dot Wo.

Hot pot with stuffed tofu
Hot pot with stuffed tofu

When I was not able to order stuffed tofu from the dim sum tray because it contained MSG, the restaurant made a special order of Hot Pot with Stuffed Tofu in a casserole dish. This was excellent all around, once again proving that Grand House makes one of the best brown sauces in the city. Even though I have experienced hits and misses in my years of going to Grand House, the casserole dishes have always been good.

Rice noodle soup
Rice noodle soup with chicken

Noodle Soups are offered on both the lunch and dinner menus--the staff suggested that I try the one with wontons and it turned out to be very good.

The noodle soup with chicken (pictured) turned out to be less flavorful, with a clear broth and not much else to liven it up. I will have to say that I was expecting something better since the same soup is also listed on the Chinese menu. In fact, the "Cantonese Style Noodles in Soup" on the Chinese menu are the same as the ones from the regular menu except they are available with different meats and five types of noodles. Just as I liked the wontons better than the chicken, though, I am sure that other types of substitutions could also make a difference.

Cantonese Style Pan Fried Noodles are offered on both the lunch menu and the Chinese menu, and are offered either "wet" or "dry" (the "dry" ones come with a delicious light brown sauce). Although I have enjoyed the flavor of this dish, it came with very few vegetables and was overloaded with onions. One order gave me a MSG reaction, even though I had asked for it to be prepared without MSG.

Fu-jjiang tofu
Tofu a la Fu-jjiang style

Although I have generally been pleased with items from the Chinese menu, I have yet to try very many of them. I took a stab in the dark and ordered Tofu a la Fu-jjiang Style partly because it was one of the less expensive items, and partly because it seemed to be something not served at very many restaurants. I will have to say that I was surprised at how good it was, considering that some other dishes have not fully met my expectations. The Fu-jjiang tofu was good all around: the seafood, sauce, and vegetables were all excellent (and of course, tofu by its nature does not have a lot of flavor, but nevertheless was good in this dish). The large sign in front of the restaurant advertises that Grand House is a "seafood" restaurant, and in this case I think it turned out to be one of their better items. The largest listing on the Chinese menu is for seafood items, it is just that many of them are more expensive than I would like to have for lunch.

The Kung Pao Chicken was one item from the regular menu that I found to be quite good--the sauce was thick with a rich flavor as opposed to the thin, runny sauce found at many restaurants.

The Hot and Sour Soup was excellent, although probably not my favorite in OKC.

Some Vietnamese dishes are available on the dinner menu such as Vermicelli Noodles with Chicken--I tried this and it was quite good.

Grand House has a large selection of cakes that are sold from a display case in the front of the restaurant (and I believe they come from La Baguette). Bakery items are not just a way for the restaurant to make extra money, they high quality to go along with the restaurants "bistro" concept.

Both the strength and weakness of Grand House lie in the fact that they do everything on a grand scale. The menu is huge and can be intimidating, but it also offers more choices than most other restaurants. Some of my best meals have been when business was slow and I was able to ask the manager or the servers what dishes would be recommended.

Dim sum is the most well known feature of Grand House, and it can be fun to choose items from the carts and trays that are brought around to each table. I do not think the dim sum equals west coast standards, either in quantity or quality, but I am glad Oklahoma City has any dim sum at all (since I first wrote this review there have been at least two other restaurants offering dim sum that have come and gone). I usually order from the menu, even if I go when dim sum is served, because I think the food is better. It is worth going on dim sum days, though, to get the desserts.

Grand House specializes in delivering the "true Chinese" taste, in its food, even from its regular (non-Chinese lunch and dinner) menus. I have not liked everything at Grand House as well as at some other Chinese restaurants, but I appreciate its approach of trying to serve food that is authentic.

Grand House combines good food and an upscale atmosphere for one of the most pleasant dining experiences in the city. The manager is almost always available, and if there are problems the restaurant does its best to fix them. Grand House is usually open late, and as far as I know is open every day of the year.

Grand House's dining room
Grand House has a large and attractive dining room

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Grand House


RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 23

Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (brewed)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: No
Special Features: Dim Sum served Sat., Sun, & Holidays

Most Recent Visit
Dec. 25, 2010

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Fu-jjian Tofu, Dim Sum, Kung Pao Chicken, Tofu with XO Sauce

Special Ratings
Kung Pao Chicken:
Tofu with XO Sauce:
Fu-jjian Tofu:
Cantonese Style Pan Fried Noodles:
Wonton Noodle Soup:
Vegetable Noodle Soup:
Rice Noodle Soup with Chicken:
Hot and Sour Soup:


Dim Sum Ratings
Fried Leek and Shrimp:
Steamed Scallop:
Chinese Broccoli:
Sticky Buns:
Sticky Rice Ball:
Congee:



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