Chow’s: authentic Chinese as good as it gets in Oklahoma City

by | September 10, 2010 | 15 Comments

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Chow’s Chinese Restaurant is located at 3033 North May Avenue in Oklahoma City (map). They are open Sunday 12pm to 11pm, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 4:30pm to 11pm. They are closed on Tuesdays. Call them at 405.949.1633.

This review is a very long-awaited continuation of my Oklahoma City Chinese food reviews that I started back in January with Fung’s Kitchen. I must apologize! In any case, this week I present to you a review of Chow’s Chinese Restaurant.

I first visited Chow’s about 2 years ago. The first thing I realized when driving up to the building is that it looks like an old IHOP. I also noticed that there aren’t any other Asian restaurants around because it’s situated a few miles west of the Asian District. Though Chow’s may seem a bit out of place, it knows no shortage of patrons on the weekends. So, if you want more individual attention, come on a weeknight.

For late-night owls like me, this place is one of the very few food establishments in OKC that’s open past 9pm. Bless restaurants like this!

Max Chow, owner and namesake of the restaurant, hails from Hong Kong which is said to be the culinary capital of the Asia. In the Cantonese style of cooking, freshness is paramount and the wait staff isn’t shy to communicate that Mr. Chow only uses the best ingredients.

To illustrate this point, they fly in fresh lobsters from Boston every Thursday or Friday, so don’t wait until Wednesday to get a taste of their lobster dishes. In fact, Mr. Chow might not even sell them by then because they won’t meet his strict freshness standards. The staff claims that their lobster and their oysters are their specialties. I haven’t tried the oysters yet, but their lobster is delicious (more on that below).

On a recent trip to Chow’s I ate family-style with 2 other friends. We started off with the Crab Meat with Fish Mau Soup ($8.95). Now, if you haven’t had much Asian food, the consistency of this soup might be a bit odd, but it’s quite delicious and the portions are definitely enough for a party of 4. My only complaint this time around was that the corn starch wasn’t completely dissolved and it was a bit lumpy.

Next up we ordered the Pork Spare Ribs with Black Bean Sauce ($8.50), Chicken Pan Fried Egg Noodles ($7.95), and, finally, the Hot and Spicy Fresh Lobster (price varies from $15-18/lb).

Mr. Chow uses fresh, whole garlic cloves in many of his dishes and it provides a good, pronounced flavor. Being Korean, I LOVE garlic, and I would just eat raw garlic all day long if I didn’t have to worry about scaring my co-workers and any potential vampires.

Although Chow’s doesn’t have a saltwater tank in the front of the store to display their fresh lobsters, Mr Chow’s attention to freshness will assure that every lobster they serve is alive when you order. The hot and spicy lobster is prepared with a tempura batter and lightly fried. It’s served with onions, whole garlic cloves, and cilantro.

Out of our three dishes, my friends considered the pork spare ribs their favorite while I thought the lobster was the most delicious. Honorable mention must go to the chicken pan fried noodles because it’s very satisfying to the palate with its very tender white-meat chicken, fresh vegetables, and crispy egg noodles that eventually soften with exposure to the tasty white sauce poured over the dish.

On a subsequent trip, I ordered to-go for myself only and had the Seafood Pan Fried Noodles ($11.95) with the rice noodles instead. I found it to be a very satisfying meal in itself. The dish consists of fried fish, shrimp, squid, scallops, ginger, whole garlic cloves, cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and onions. I think this is a FAR better option than the typical American-style dishes that I prefer not to order. Sure, call me a Chinese food snob, but I could eat Chow’s pan fried noodles all day long.

To wrap up my review of Chow’s, I need to mention that their service is excellent. The waiters have great knowledge of the dishes they serve and can offer good recommendations for what to order if you’re unsure of what you want. Although the decor is sorely lacking and the hours are limited to dinner-only (except on Sundays), they are open late and they serve quite possibly the best Chinese food in the state.

If you’ve had a good (or bad) experience at Chow’s, we’d love to hear what you have to say. So please leave a comment below!

Chow's Chinese on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Sam Lee on Friday, September 10th, 2010. It is filed under:

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  • Jon says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 8:45 am   

    Chow’s has been a favorite of ours for awhile now. My wife taught English in mainland China, and claims the jiao zi (steamed dumplings) are the best she’s had in the States. The Szechuan-style eggplant is our other favorite; we order it without meat and it is simply amazing.

  • Kari Ritchie says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 8:47 am   

    I have heard only good things about this place. I’ve passed it everyday for years on my way to/from work. I have to say, I’ve never thought about trying it due to the outside appearance of the restaurant. However, your detailed review of the freshness of ingredients may have changed my mind!

  • Tim says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 1:04 pm   

    My GF says this place used to have the best burgers in town. Will try the Chinese soon!

  • Rick says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 5:12 pm   

    I’ve been dying to try Chow’s for a while now. Thanks for the review.

  • Jennifer says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 10:38 pm   

    My husband and I thought Chow’s was most like the food we ate while we were in China a few years ago. I agree the staff is very friendly but the decor is lacking. The food is a good value for the money. One interesting note…on the night we were there a group came and ate at one of the large round family style tables. Each person in the group brought in their own alcohol. Had never seen this before at a restaurant. They looked like a regular, weekly group. We like the fish dishes best.

  • Martha says:
    September 11th, 2010 at 12:03 am   

    looking forward to trying it!

  • Zombii says:
    September 13th, 2010 at 1:16 pm   

    I’ve been to Chow’s twice and can’t give a good reason as to why I haven’t been back (save that I stick to my local area of about two to three miles and Chow’s is just at the outskirts of that). Being a vegetarian at that time put a crimp in what I could eat, but happily they had a delicious tofu dish that I’ve not had before. It was kind of crispy fried triangles? Like salt and pepper seafood in other Chinese restaurants. It lacked in heat (thank goodness for the tableside chili sauce), but was a nice change from soft tofu dishes.

    The second was a tofu dish and my brain can’t remember very well what it was. Must not have wowed me like the first one. On the other hand, my friend had a crispy noodle dish with beef and *loved* it.

    Jon just put steamed dumplings on my “to try” list and I look forward to a future visit.

  • JuJu Beans says:
    September 16th, 2010 at 4:30 pm   

    Thanks for the review.. I want to make this my next stop. Hopefully, I like this place better than I did Fungs.

  • Michael says:
    October 8th, 2010 at 11:30 am   

    All of my friends who have been here have raved about the food. Just curious, how is the pricing on their lobster dishes?

  • Sam says:
    October 8th, 2010 at 12:58 pm   

    Fresh Lobster (price varies from $15-18/lb).

  • t, an urban teahouse says:
    November 29th, 2010 at 12:15 pm   

    Unbelievably excellent food! Other foodie friends invited me to Chow’s. There are items on the menu to satisfy one’s need for Americanzied Chinese food but the items on & off the menu that we loved were the (among others) the quail apps, the sea bass in a perfect brothy sauce with huge cilantro stalks and the literally melt in your mouth tofu with whole cloves of garlic. This casual, exceptional value, hidden gem is now added to my list of regular places to dine! Added big bonus last night: Cindy came out from the kitchen to greet the happy guests in her restaurant.

  • Vivian says:
    December 2nd, 2010 at 9:12 am   

    Tim great review. I went to Chow’s for the first time last week with several adventurous food lovers. We had an incredible meal there. I encourage people to think outside of the box with places like this (you never know what you will like until you try it).

    We ate family style, which is my preference and the way I feel Chinese food should be served (it’s the way meals are traditionally served in Chinese restaurants on Guam). Everything was delicious. We started with apps of Quail, Jellyfish Salad, and Fried Tofu. For soup we had the Seafood Mau. Our entrees included Pork Belly with Taro, Crispy Fried Duck, and we asked the server to pick her favorite dish off the menu for us to try. She chose the Sea Bass with cilantro for us and it was incredible.

    The staff was friendly and chef Cindy came out to greet guests, and make sure that we were happy with our meal. All in all it was a really great night.

  • Emily says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 5:16 pm   

    I visited Chow’s with my mom and aunt (who grew up in Hong Kong) and they LOVED it. It’s definitely very authentic, with richly flavored sauces that are never salty or overpowering. The Ginger & Scallion lobster is amazing! My only issue was with the chow mein–I thought the noodles should have been crispier in certain parts and more pan-seared.

    A great find for authentic Cantonese style home cooking in OKC!

  • KC says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 5:36 pm   

    Chow’s Clay Pot dishes rock! Haven’t tried one yet I didn’t like. The Salt & Pepper Pork is real good but wish it was friend a bit longer for a bit more crisp and had more red chili peppers for some kick. Bird’s Nests here are tasty, too.

  • Chris Gonzales says:
    August 29th, 2012 at 1:32 pm   

    Might be a little late to comment on this, but they do have a lobster tank at the front of the restaurant now.

    That said, I go to Chow’s when I’m in the mood for something spicy. I order their sesame chicken and ask for it extra spicy. They always do a perfect job, and it’s now one of my staple dishes I like to pick up after work and take home. Highly recommended!

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