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Tana Thai Bistro

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

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 appears to be 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.

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

The Stir-Fry Basil dish I ordered had all the strong Thai flavors I would expect. 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.

On another occasion I tried Stir Fry Basil with Shrimp, and I thought this version was even better than the tofu. The shrimp was quite fresh and large, making this the only type of shrimp that really excites me. So far I would say this is the main dish at Tana Thai with which something of equal quality will not be found at another restaurant. Even though Tana Thai's menu is small, though, I am a long way from trying a good sample of the items.

The Panang Curry 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.

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 enatils. 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 many of the Seattle Thai restaurants that are well known (or suspected) of catering 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.

The shrimp ginger dish also reminded me that many of the dishes at Tana Thai tend to be quite spicy, maybe even more than I would like (although I tend to like spicy Thai food). The restaurant has a one to three star rating on the spicy scale, and I have found three stars to be spicier than I like. Sometimes, though, two stars can be quite spicy. At all Thai restaurants I have to experiment to find the right spice level, but at Tana Thai I think I would recommend going lower if you are not sure how many stars to get.

The sugar content of some of the dishes made me wonder about Tana Thai's authenticity, but the flavors and food quality have confirmed that this is one of the better Thai restaurants in town. I have tried several dishes, and I have generally been impressed by the food that is served. So far I have found the basil stir fry to be one of the best I have eaten, and the tom yam also compares favorably with others in the city. The spiciness scale is certainly according to Thai standards, and this has been a good thing except when I overestimated how much chile I really wanted.

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
Feb. 18, 2009

Number of Visits: 6

Best Item
Stir-Fry Basil Shrimp

Special Ratings
Stir-Fry Basil Shrimp:
Stir-Fry Basil Tofu:
Tom Yam:
Panang Curry with Tofu:
Shrimp Ginger Brown Sauce:
Thai Tea:



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