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Saii Asian Bistro

6900 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 702-7244

There are several "Asian bistros" around Oklahoma City, and these are somewhat hard to judge in a review. Saii Asian Bistro, like some others I have visited, offers several types of Asian cuisine, including Thai, Japanese, and Chinese. I would have to try all of them to write a fair review of the food, and then I would have to try to find the best dishes in each category. At Saii, though, I do not think they are really trying to be a restaurant that specializes in Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and whatever other types of food are on the menu. Instead, the owner explained that it is a place where a group of people can come to relax and enjoy a meal, and that every person can order the type of food they like. This probably persuaded me as much as anything I have heard about the idea of Asian bistro restaurants.

Most of what I heard about Saii before I went was that it was a sushi restaurant. In fact, it looked as if about half of the restaurant's staff was devoted to the sushi bar, which I will have to say looked very impressive. I saw several orders of rolls being prepared (such as California rolls), but they also had a good selection of traditional nigiri fish and seafood selections. Since the sushi seems to be Saii's most popular item, I thought I should mention it even though I have not yet tried it.

Spicy Thai kra pao
Spicy Thai kra pao with shrimp

Since the owner is from Thailand, and a large number of the dishes on the menu are Thai, this seemed to be a good reason to try the Thai food. On my initial two visits both servers recommended Spicy Thai Kra Pao as one of the best Thai dishes. This is not surprising, since basil dishes are usually among my favorites at Thai restaurants.

In describing this dish, though, I feel as if I am writing about two different dishes on two visits. The first was served with shrimp, but the dark brown sauce was so lacking in flavor that it was hard to enjoy the other ingredients to the dish. This dish really confirmed my worst fears about an Asian restaurant that offered so many cuisines that it could not do any of them really well.

Spicy Thai kra pao with tofu
The "upgraded" Thai kra pao with mixed vegetables, served with tofu

I had a conversation with the owner, though, and he told me about several changes he was making in the kitchen and the restaurant that convinced me to return to Saii and give it another try. The second time I tried the kra pao it still had the dark sauce, but the flavors had been transformed into the lively and complex type of Thai food that I really like. I do not really care how a dish looks, I care about the taste. This one had a flavor that I thought could compete with just about any Thai restaurant in the city. I asked for the dish to be spicy, and I was pleasantly surprised that they made it "Thai spicy." I do not really think this was the main factor in making the second dish better, though; I think it was primarily because it was probably cooked by the owner or someone who knew how to prepare Thai food and took the time to do it correctly.

One notable improvement to the kra pao was the assortment of mixed vegetables that were included, that frankly made this one of the better Thai dishes I have had in Oklahoma. I ordered the dish with tofu, and I was very impressed with its quality. I still recommend the shrimp, but for my personal taste I thought the tofu was probably better. With as many vegetables as they put in the dish I do not think anyone will go away hungry if they get the meatless version.

Of course one of the main ingredients to kra pao is the basil, and the one here was fresh and aromatic as well as flavorful (and I found it to be so in the first dish I tried as well).

When upscale Asian restaurants (especially bistros) serve specialty teas instead of the standard jasmine that I usually find, this is a cause for suspicion that they are just trying to charge artificially high prices. One of the specialty teas at Saii was jasmine, though, so I tried it. This turned out to be exceptionally good and not much more expensive than at other restaurants, so I was very happy with the tea. The type of tea leaves used were very much like an herbal tea, and the large tea bag they gave me lasted for several refills of hot water.

When I try the sushi I will have a much more complete picture about Saii, but at least for the Thai menu I think it is one of the more expensive places to go, but worth the price.

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Cuisine: Thai and Sushi
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (herbal)
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit
Mar. 15, 2009

Number of Visits: 2

Best Item
Thai Kra Pao

Special Ratings
Thai Kra Pao: