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Baluu's Restaurant

7925 N.W. 10th St.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 787-7960

Baluu's Restaurant just north of I-40 on Council Rd.

Baluu's business plan seems to be based on the premise that authentic home style Asian cooking can be spread from the "Asian District" along Classen Boulevard to the suburbs of Oklahoma City. I am not sure how well the business plan is working, but the food here offers a refreshing change from much of the Asian food found in the suburban areas of the city.

The primary cuisine at Baluu is Vietnamese. Each table is replete with pictures of various dishes such as Vietnamese salads and noodle dishes. Pho is served, but I have not seen some of the more exotic dishes that are available in the Asian district.

Since my first visit to Baluu in 2006 I have noticed three distinct phases to the restaurant, and I hope readers will bear with me while I try to combine them into one review. During the first phase they had a rather large menu of Vietnamese dishes, Asian District style Chinese dishes, and American food (particularly American style breakfasts). The second phase occurred after a large fire that closed the restaurant for several months, where both some of the American dishes and some of the more authentic Chinese dishes were dropped from the menu. The third phase is how I am describing my visit in 2014, where I found more Vietnamese dishes than before (but the Chinese menu was still limited). The American food seemed to be less prominent, and I understood that this had been a result of new management at the restaurant (but I am not sure about the details). The consistent theme to all of the phases, though, is that Baluu is better than the typical suburban Vietnamese restaurant.

Vietnamese vermicelli bowl
Vietnamese vermicelli bowl with vegetables

I dish I tried in 2007 is one which I think they still make, and which I would recommend. This was the Vermicelli Bowl loaded with vegetables (and no meat). This dish was about as flavorful as I have found anywhere, and it was also available as a lunch special. They told me anything with meat would contain MSG, but the mixed vegetable dish was MSG-free. I got an extra order of fried tofu to go with it, and although it added to the cost I can say that it was well worth it.

When I first went the Chinese menu was almost as substantial as the Vietnamese, and concentrated on the more authentic noodle and rice dishes as opposed to Americanized fried or sweet and sour items. The new Chinese menu (after the fire) has dropped some of the authentic "Chinatown" type dishes, but still includes most of the dishes popular at other suburban Chinese restaurants. At present I do not consider the Chinese menu to be a big reason to go to Baluu.

Pan fried noodles
Pan fried noodles

The old menu at Baluu included various styles of Chinese noodle dishes with either egg or rice noodles (thin or thick). I ordered the Vegetable Delight with Pan Fried Noodles when they were still serving it, and I was pleased with its vegetables and white sauce served on crispy noodles formed in a circle to resemble a bird's nest. The manager said the noodles were supposed to be burned at the ends, and this is the way I have had them at many Hong Kong and Cantonese style restaurants. When the dish arrived it was a very good representation of the dish I have eaten in other restaurants, including the flavor, the vegetables, and the fact that the white sauce turned the inside of the noodle bed soft while the outside retained its crunchy texture. This was probably the inspiration for so many chow mein dishes in countless Americanized restaurants, but which the restaurants were largely unable to pull off successfully. At Baluu, however, this was quite a good dish, except that the ends were not burned as I had expected. Somehow, though, I was able to make it through the dish without the noodles being burned (and I didn't even have to leave anything on the plate because of not including charred items in my diet).

I think what happened is that Baluu no longer has the Chinese chefs they had before, but all I know for sure is that this and other dishes have been dropped from the menu. It does demonstrate, though, that they have consistently been trying to bring Asian District flavors to far west Oklahoma City.

Vermicelli bowl with chicken and lemongrass
Vermicelli bowl with chicken and lemongrass

Vermicelli with Chicken and Lemongrass is a new dish that I first saw on the menu in 2014, and I thought it was excellent. They were very generous with the mint (as opposed to some other suburban restaurants that do not even include mint). The chicken was top quality, and I enjoyed the lemongrass flavor. The fish sauce was less sweet than at most restaurants, and was very good (although I do not think it was as authentic as some I have had in the Asian District). Overall this was probably the best thing I have had at Baluu so far, and made the "third phase" of Baluu the best one so far for me.

If it is true that the meat dishes have MSG, this was not something that bothered me with this dish.

Pho is also available, but since the lemongrass vermicelli bowl was one of the best I have had anywhere in the suburbs, I will probably keep ordering this.

Baluu is a little off the beaten path, but it is convenient for those traveling through on I-40 (take the Council Road exit and go about a mile north to N.W. 10th St.).



Cuisine: Vietnamese & American
Cost: $$
Hours: Breakfast & Lunch Daily; Dinner Wed., Fri., Sat.
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (bags)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: No
Special Features: Serves breakfast

Most Recent Visit
May 22, 2014

Number of Visits: 4

Best Item
Vermicelli Bowl with Chicken and Lemongrass

Special Ratings
Vermicelli Bowl: with chicken and lemongrass
Vermicelli Bowl: with vegetables
Vermicelli Bowl: with chicken
Pan Fried Noodles: (no longer served)