For some of the freshest food in Oklahoma City, follow local chefs to the Asian District.
Red signs mark the area along Classen Boulevard between Northwest 22nd and 30th Streets. Look here for Super Cao Nguyen market, keep an eye out for Banh Mi Ba Le, and don't miss Pho Hoa and Mr. Pho.
To Market, To Market
Offerings at Super Cao Nguyen may include clams from Canada, red snapper from Australia, and the occasional live spotted prawns from Alaska. "We got our start supplying our Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai customers who live in the area," says Ba Luong, whose parents began operating the market in 1979. Now just as many non-Asians shop for seafood, fresh herbs, and vegetables that include baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and Japanese eggplants, to name a few. The deli stocks sushi, pâtés, traditional Korean kimchi, curry dishes, and sandwiches made with fresh-baked French bread.
Saigon Subs and Pho
For inexpensive meals, try one of the area's restaurants. In fact, the costliest items at Mr. Pho (under the same roof as the market) are the $9.50 dinner specials.
Grab a take-out Saigon Sub from Banh Mi Ba Le. For $1.85 you get a French baguette packed with pâtés, sweet radish pickle, onion, cucumber, cilantro, hot peppers, mayo, and three kinds of meat.
For the best pho (soup), go to Pho Hoa. The comfort food of Vietnamese cuisine, pho makes a meal by itself. The beef broth comes with scallions, rice noodles, and slices of beef or chicken. Add-your-own garnishes include crisp bean sprouts, jalapeños, lime wedges, and fresh herbs such as basil, mint, or cilantro-like ngo gai. At $6 for a large bowl, you can feel thrifty as well as healthy.
Chili paste: A spicy dressing made with chile peppers, oil, vinegar, and garlic.
Nuoc mam: This sauce made from fermented dried fish is the equivalent of salt.
Nuoc mam cham: This dipping sauce is a blend of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and water; it's seasoned with chiles and garlic.
Soy sauce: Made from soybeans mixed with roasted grain and then fermented, it adds a savory flavor.