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Tana Thai Bistro

10700 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK (The Village)
(405) 749-5590


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Tana Thai in The Village, a suburb of Oklahoma City

Tana Thai Bistro is located in the same strip commercial center on North May Avenue as Papa Dio's Italian Restaurant, and like Papa Dio's, has a rather unassuming exterior. As is the case with Papa Dio's, though, the outside gives little clue to the treats that await inside.

Tana Thai is small, with about a dozen tables, and is a family run operation. It is a little more upscale than most small Thai restaurants, operating under the "Bistro" concept with a very limited menu selection. The dining area is fully carpeted, and chairs are very plush (but the booths have wooden seats). It is also interesting that the entrance is through a double door to help keep out the wind, cold, and other harsh weather that is commonly experienced in this part of the country.

The menu includes a few noodle dishes, some soups, salads, and three types of curry. Drinks include Thai tea, but I was not very happy with the hot tea that was brewed with a single bag, but priced as if it were loose leaf tea.

The Stir-Fry Basil was one of the first dishes I tried at Tana Thai, and was something that kept bringing me back to try other things. This dish had all the strong Thai flavors I would expect from a good Thai restaurant. The menu says anything can be prepared without meat, and I ordered this dish with tofu (that was prepared very nicely). I loved the basil flavor, and thought the vegetable selection was good. Steamed rice was complimentary, but at the prices that are charged, it should be.

Stir-fried basil with shrimp
Stir-fried basil with shrimp

The Stir Fry Basil with Shrimp was even better than the tofu. The shrimp was quite fresh and large, making this the only type of shrimp that really excites me. Normally I am not really a shrimp lover, but I thought this was one of the best dishes at Tana Thai.

Basil stir fry
Basil stir fry with chicken

The Basil Stir Fry with Chicken was another good choice, although I thought it was better either to get the shrimp or to order the pad kee mao which also had a good basil flavor but was more filling because of the noodles.

The Panang Curry was another of the early dishes I tried, but I thought it lacked a little spice and flavor for my taste. However, I thought the tofu that came in the non-meat version and the green beans were quite good, and overall this was a pretty good dish.

Green curry
Green curry

For a long time I was thinking I could get better curry elsewhere, but when a waitress suggested that I try the Green Curry this turned out to be a very good tip. In fact, the green curry at Tana Thai had a flavor that brought it at least to west coast standards, and I suspect to Thailand standards as well. I ordered mine a little less than medium spicy, and this probably made me appreciate the fact even more that the flavors stand on their own with or without the element of hot chiles. I do not know if it had more coconut milk than most green curries or just better coconut milk, but I would call the flavor very smooth, enjoyable, and easy to eat (particularly for people who may be trying green curry for the first time).

Tom Yam with shrimp
Tom yam with shrimp

Tom Yam with Shrimp was a spicy soup that seemed simple, but the mix of flavors indicated that there was more to it than met the eye. The Thai word yahm means something "mixed together," and that is exactly what this dish entails. One of the items mixed in is red chile powder, which at the two-star level made it about as spicy as I have ever experienced with this dish. The three-star version would be entirely too hot for me. I'm sure the flavor would be just as good, though, provided a person could eat it.

Shrimp ginger brown sauce
Stir-fried shrimp ginger brown sauce

Shrimp dishes are priced so that they offer some of the best values on the menu, so in recognition of this fact I ordered one of the stir fry choices: Shrimp Ginger Brown Sauce, sauteed with ginger, onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms. This type of dish is usually known as pad khing, and when done well is usually one of my favorites. The shrimp at Tana Thai made this better than the chicken and other versions I have had at several other places. I usually order it with tofu at other restaurants, and Tana Thai will cook it with tofu if requested, but as I stated earlier the shrimp at this restaurant is of such good quality I think it is worthwhile. The brown sauce had a good ginger flavor, but I thought it was so sweet it reminded me of some of the less well respected Seattle Thai restaurants that seem to cater to American tastes rather than Thai. I have done a little bit of research on the subject, and it is certainly permissible for Thai chefs to add sugar to many dishes, especially since this helps balance the spicy chiles that are used. I thought this dish went overboard, though, and was too sweet for my taste.

Pad thai
Pad thai

The Pad Thai was flavored with tamarind sauce, had the right amount of sweetness, and had noodles with the right consistency. In other words, it ranks high among the ones I have tried in Oklahoma City. I think there are more interesting dishes at the restaurant, but I am certainly satisfied with the pad thai. The only caution I have is that my dining companion ordered it "non-spicy" but it came with red chile peppers mixed in that was roughly equivalent to one star on the spiciness scale. I really fault the restaurant for this when other restaurants (such as the now closed Thai Palace in Edmond) will honor requests to make Thai food completely without spiciness if requested, and this is totally within the Thai tradition.

Pad kee mao
Pad kee mao

Pad Kee Mao is one of the noodle dishes available, and I was quite pleased with this one. The basil gave it a great flavor, and the tofu I ordered with it was crispy and very good. Noodle dishes come with beef, shrimp, or chicken, but the chicken and tofu are the least expensive choices. One thing I liked about this dish was that the spice level was just about right (I think I ordered it as one and a half stars), but I also asked for fish sauce with chiles on the side to make it spicier (this also made it more flavorful).

Pineapple fried rice
Pineapple fried rice

The Pineapple Fried Rice was also very flavorful, in fact much more so than at the majority of OKC's Thai restaurants. I ate a few bites of the one shown in the photo, but it was good enough that I would not hesitate to order it as a dinner. The default version comes with shrimp, and this is probably what I would order since the chicken included in the one pictured was rather bland.

Overall I would say that the green curry is really the standout dish at Tana Thai, since this was one of the best I have had anywhere. The basil dishes would be next on my list, since I have found them to be very flavorful. Some dishes that are normally among my favorites, such as ginger stir fry, are too sweet here. Noodle and rice plates seem to be the most popular items from a casual observation of items being delivered to other tables (and probably my favorite is the pad kee mao with basil). The tom yam is also very good.

Ordering food at the right spiciness level has been a real challenge, but most of these issues were when I first started going to the restaurant and I did not know how to order. For me about one and a half stars out of three is about right, and I can add more spiciness with a spicy nam pla fish sauce. I like to ask Thai chefs to prepare the food with the spiciness they think is best, and that balances the flavors, but at Tana Thai I think this would make it a little too hot for my taste.

The Thai Tea (served with ice) is good, and helps a lot if you get something on the spicy side.

It is hard not to like Thai food, and it is hard not to feel at home in this small family-run business. I think it is a big plus that all food at Tana Thai is cooked by the owners, so the food quality and style can be assured.

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RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 23

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Green (bags)/ Thai tea
MSG: No
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: No
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit
Aug. 31, 2012

Number of Visits: 9

Best Items
Green Curry, Basil Stir-Fry with Shrimp

Special Ratings
Basil Stir-Fry with Shrimp:
Basil Stir-Fry with Tofu:
Basil Stir-Fry with Chicken:
Pad Thai:
Pad Kee Mao:
Tom Yam:
Green Curry:
Panang Curry with Tofu:
Shrimp Ginger Brown Sauce:
Pineapple Fried Rice:
Thai Tea:



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