Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

Tokyo Japanese Restaurant

7516 N. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 848-6733

Tokyo Restaurant on N. Western Ave.

My impression of Tokyo Japanese Restaurant is that it is trying hard to provide the most authentic Japanese food in Oklahoma City. The heart of Japanese food is fish, and I know how difficult it has been throughout the years to get fresh seafood to the Great Plains (although Oklahoma has never lacked for its own version of fresh water fish). Tokyo has stuck with it, though, and now I think the state has a much better supply of fresh fish and seafood that is worthy of the experienced chefs here.

Of course, Japanese food also includes dishes made with chicken, beef, and pork, and these have always been among the best choices at Tokyo. It is really a "full service" restaurant that serves sushi and all the important dishes generally found in Japanese restaurants. The only thing missing here is the knife throwing show that accompanies many Japanese restaurants that cook the food over a large grill, but I never really expect authentic Japanese food at such places (although sometimes I am pleasantly surprised).

I can tell from looking at Tokyo's converted old house that it is not trying to be trendy, it is just concentrating on good food. People might be surprised how pleasant the interior is, though, from looking at it from the outside. The wood floors and Japanese decor in the dining room remind me of the better west coast Japanese restaurants.

Box lunch at Tokyo

Box lunch with teriyaki salmon and chef's choice of sushi

An outstanding feature of Tokyo is the "box lunch" combination plate served with some of the restaurant's best dishes. The box lunch is probably the most substantial lunch served in terms of the quantity of food, and it consists of the customer's choice of foods from two groups (one of which has sushi as one of the choices). The sushi is whatever the chef wishes to serve, but a California roll can be ordered instead of nigiri or sashimi. The box lunch comes with miso soup, usually making it the best deal for lunch even though it is more expensive than the other plates.

Other lunch specials come with one main item and kakiage (shredded vegetable tempura), rice, and salad, but no soup. These offer a cost saving if you do not want sushi, but I think if I were to order the miso soup the total would come out almost the same as if I ordered the box lunch. The choice of entrées is almost as large as on the dinner menu.

One of my favorite items on the lunch plates is Salmon Teriyaki with a very thick and flavorful teriyaki sauce. Atlantic salmon is most common in Oklahoma, but other varieties may be available at times. I was told that the chef buys the best fish available at the market, so that there is not just one type of salmon that is served. I do not expect a restaurant in Oklahoma to serve the dark red salmon (it is usually pink to light red at Tokyo), but the quality is good, and I think the salmon is better than it was a few years ago. The teriyaki sauce is excellent, and this is probably my favorite dish at Tokyo, even though it is probably not the same as I would find in Seattle.

Tokyo's sushi bar

Tokyo's sushi bar has some of the freshest offerings in OKC. Items in center are fresh water eel and salt water eel.

The chefs at the sushi bar are probably the most experienced in Oklahoma City, and I would certainly say they are among the best. To me they exhibit all the characteristics of a good sushi chef: they find the freshest fish available, they know how to prepare it correctly, and they will be honest with the customer to recommend the "chef's choice" for the best sushi (whether or not it is listed as a special).

Sushi can be ordered from the sushi menu, on combination lunch or dinner plates, or from the "chef's recommendations of the day." Sushi on the box lunch usually includes tuna and salmon, while the sashimi option includes a couple of additional choices such as a crab stick and octopus. The "chef's recommendations" (the fresher, higher quality sushi) are sometimes included on sushi plates, but it is best to ask. I have found the tuna to usually be the best sushi served in the box lunch.

Philadelphia roll

Philadelphia roll

Of course the chefs here can prepare California rolls and other types of rolls, but I am not a big fan of these and would not judge a sushi chef's talent based on these dishes. The Philadelphia Roll (made with cream cheese) was good, but not what I consider to be traditional Japanese sushi.

Yellowtail sushi

Yellowtail sushi was the Chef's Recommendation

To really test the Sushi I have ordered the "Chef's Recommendation" at dinner with the Yellowtail Nigiri being quite fresh and just about the same as can be found on the west coast. While I probably do not know enough about sushi to recoginze the most exotic fish that would be the true test for a chef, I do know fresh fish and sushi that is prepared well, and Tokyo Restaurant has it.

For nigiri the rice is supposed to be as important as the fish, but I am afraid I would have to say the fish is much more important. Still, though, I would rate the rice here as being very good, and does not come apart as easily as some others served with sushi.

The Salmon Sushi seemed to be redder in color and more flavorful than the cooked salmon, but I do not know if it is a different variety. I think it is better fish than Tokyo used to serve, though, and I now rate this among the best salmon sushi in Oklahoma City.

Miso soup

Miso soup

The Miso Soup is fresh, and one of the best. Nowadays many restaurants have good miso, and I almost take it for granted. Tokyo seemed to be the first one to set the standard in OKC, though, so it remains my sentimental favorite.

Chicken Katsu has one of the best sauces I have found in any restaurant, and the breading is quite good. This is one of the choices for lunch, or is available on the dinner menu.

Vegetable Tempura is one of the options on the lunch plates and is excellent. I think the plates normally offer a combination of shrimp and vegetable tempura, but it is so seldom that I find restaurants that can make good vegetables that I like to order this at Tokyo.

Tempura udon

Tempura udon has a rich, dark broth

A bowl of Tempura Udon I tried from the dinner menu was outstanding, with a dark, rich broth and good noodles. The shrimp and vegetable tempura was the same excellent quality as the one served at lunch. I have always enjoyed Tokyo's tempura dipping sauce (if you order tempura separately or on the side).

For lunch a bowl of Udon is available without the tempura. This soup is not much more expensive than the miso (if you order the miso a la carte), but the udon is more filling.

Nabeyaki Udon comes with chicken, shrimp tempura, fish cake, egg, carrot, and shitake mushrooms. I think this dish is very "Japanese style," and is a good alternative to tempura udon.

Tokyo is a friendly, comfortable, and moderately priced restaurant where you can feel at home, especially if you are a regular customer. The sushi chefs are among the most experienced I have met, and this is one of the key factors that makes a good sushi restaurant.

I would have to say, though, that the regular menu offers the food I order most often, and enjoy the most. I do not think I can point to any single item that is the "best I have ever eaten," but Tokyo has a consistent quality of which everything is good, and some are hard to match even in larger cities.

The sushi at Tokyo has always been surprisingly good compared to other restaurants in OKC and the Southwest, and I think even though the fish here is not the same as in seaport cities, the sushi chefs know how to find the best that is available and to make the most of it. The salmon had been a disappointment for me compared to the other fish, but this has changed recently. I was very impressed by the salmon at Mr. Sushi in Edmond, but the sushi currently served at Tokyo has been equally good. I think there has been an improvement in the salmon supply to Oklahoma, and the good sushi chefs know how to make the most of it.

I do not place great importance on a sushi restaurant having more variety than other places just for the sake of saying it has a "large menu," but it is good to know Tokyo has a relatively large selection. This, along with its quality, make Tokyo a winner. The fact that much of the cooked food is as good if not better than the sushi keeps Tokyo as my choice for "best Japanese in OKC." If this ever changes it will probably not be because Tokyo will have gone downhill, it will be that someone else has the skills and makes the effort to provide the same quality. Such skills seem to be all to rare in the Japanese restaurant business.

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RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 24

Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon. & Sun. lunch
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Green (brewed) House
MSG: No
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Most Recent Visit
May 20, 2010

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Chicken Katsu, Tempura Udon, Nabeyaki Udon, Sushi, Salmon Teriyaki, Miso Soup

Special Ratings
Chicken Katsu:
Nabeyaki Udon:
Tempura Udon:
Tempura:
Salmon Teriyaki:
Miso Soup:

Sushi Ratings
Chef's Recommendation:
Tuna:
Snapper:
Tilapia:
Salmon:
Philadelphia Roll:



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