Pachinko Parlor: leave your expectations behind [closed]
Please note: Pachinko Parlor is no longer in business.
I really respect Pachinko Parlor for their courage. They’ve created a restaurant that is truly unique and that uniqueness brings its own set of risks. When you put something out there that people aren’t familiar with, there’s a risk they won’t accept it. Or, even if they do accept it, they won’t know how to communicate it to others.
From what I’ve seen, the risk seems to be paying off, as Pachinko appears to be staying busy. But, I still run across a ton of people who either haven’t heard of it, or don’t know what it is, and that is something I hope to help remedy in this article.
The first thing I will say is that you should go try Pachinko Parlor. I mean, there’s nothing else like it in Oklahoma City and that, to me, is reason enough to give it a shot. Just look at the exterior of the restaurant and you’ll know you’re in for something very different. One of the city’s best patios leads up to a quaint and Asian-influenced structure appointed with a very hip and modern decor. The dining space inside is actually quite small with tables lining one side and bar seating on the other. If the weather’s nice, you should definitely sit outside. If it’s not, you may have to wait during peak times.
To help you set your expectations, let’s talk about the food. Pachinko primarily offers sushi rolls. However, most of them are quite unlike any sushi rolls you’ve had before. If you’re a sushi traditionalist, you’re going to have to get over it and realize that this is going to be different than sushi you’ve had before. If you don’t like sushi, likewise. Remove the pre-conceived ideas of what sushi should or should not be and let Pachinko surprise you with their very unique approach.
For example, you could order the Philly Cheese Steak roll ($12) with cuts of beef tenderloin, spicy cream cheese, and asparagus, wrapped up in nori and rice, sliced into pieces and topped with scallion. It looks kind of like sushi, but it doesn’t taste like any sushi I’ve ever had. That’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, I really enjoyed it.
As you might guess, a sushi roll packed with beef and cream cheese is quite filling. Where I might eat 2-3 simple rolls at a place like Tokyo Japanese Restaurant, I found most of the rolls at Pachinko Parlor filling enough to satisfy on their own. However, their flavors are often so bold eating the entirety of one roll can wear on the palette, so I think Pachinko is best enjoyed with at least one other person with whom you can share some rolls and give your taste buds some variety.
Another example, the Crab Rangoon roll ($9). This is a crab/cream cheese mix with panko inside and the whole thing is tempura fried in a pretty substantial amount of batter. You’ve really got to see this one to believe it (see a photo). It tastes great, but again, not like any sushi I’ve ever had. And it fills you up fast. The thai sweet chili dipping sauce served with it adds a nice flavor and kick.
Of the rolls I tried, my absolute favorite was the Coconut Shrimp ($9). While some of the others were a bit overwhelming, I thought this one had a great balance. The ingredients are simple with spicy shrimp and shredded coconut inside, and toasted coconut rolled on the outside. Beautiful, complementary flavors that don’t overwhelm. This is one that I could have kept on eating all day if only my stomach (and my wallet) would have accommodated.
These are just a few examples of the many, many rolls on Pachinko’s menu. They do have a few that are closer to standard sushi rolls, even some with raw ingredients, but of the ones we tried, those didn’t stand out to me. What really stands out at Pachinko is their creativity. I love what they are doing here and I hope you will give them a try to see what you think.
A few other notes. They do have some other things besides the rolls. They offer some noodle dishes and some other Asian-themed entrees, appetizers, sandwiches and desserts. At lunch they offer a $9 special with your choice of roll or sandwich along with a soup or salad.
But here’s the killer deal. Every weekday from 4pm to 6pm Pachinko sells all their rolls at 1/2 price for happy hour. As long as you order them by 6pm, you get the discount. Now, seriously, this is a great value. Split a couple of rolls and you’ve got dinner for two at around $10-$12 plus tax and tip. Add an appetizer or dessert and you’re still going to be under $20. That’s pretty amazing and, in my opinion, one of the best deals in town.
As I said before, I think everyone should try Pachinko Parlor. Maybe it won’t be your thing, but you’ll never know unless you give it a shot. Just be sure to leave your expectations at the door, open up your mind, and enjoy something that’s truly unique in our city. And be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.
You can view more photos from Pachinko Parlor in our Facebook photo album.