Restaurants Offer Delicious Taste of India and Asia
580 Ed Noble Parkway, Norman
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
In 1972, Neelam MisaI moved to Norman, where he says he “immediately fell in love with its big Oklahoma skies and its friendly smiling people.” However, he found himself longing for the foods with which he grew up.
In 1979, he opened Misal of India on the University of Oklahoma’s Campus Corner. It was named for his father, who modernized and marketed herbal formulas based on the 5,000-year-old Ayurvedic System in India. Now, Neelam recalls, “not only could I finally share my favorite foods with ‘fellow Oklahomans,’ but I could do so without having to personally search for exotic ingredients and face long, complicated recipes. The chefs, brought from India, were experts in these details.”
Although their location and name have changed—the restaurant opened up its doors at 580 Ed Noble Parkway in 1998 and the restaurant is now called Misal Bistro—the commitment to serve great-tasting, healthful cuisine remains the same.
“Everything at Misal is prepared fresh on the premises,” says Nasir Ghouri, Neelam’s cousin, who was an OU student when Misal of India opened on Campus Corner and today is a partner in the business with Neelam. “There are no additives, MSG preservatives or artificial colors. No saturated oils are used. All meats are lean, and the skin is removed from all chicken. The yogurt in dressings and marinades is homemade and either low or non-fat. If Misal’s food does not taste as ‘rich’ as some you may have tried, this is the reason, and one for which no apology is made. Most items qualify as heart-healthy.”
Among my personal favorites are the Vegetable Samosas and Chicken Tikka Misala. Try their luncheon buffet to sample more of their menu offerings.
Neelam added, “It is our hope that as we bring diverse cultures together in this little space, we help to create, in some small measure, greater global understanding and harmony.”
LemonGrass Asian Bistro
809 SW 119th St., Oklahoma City
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 4:30-10 p.m. Saturday
On LemonGrass Asian Bistro’s Facebook pages, you’ll find plenty of words of praise from first-time visitors as well as longtime patrons. Superlatives include “the best sushi place in town,” “the best food ever!” “amazing, as always” and “their dishes are five-star.” Dishes singled out for praise include two of their house specials—Salt and Pepper Pork Chop and LemonGrass Chicken—as well as their Tempura Shrimp and several types of sushi, including the LG and Baby Gecko rolls. LemonGrass also serves alcoholic beverages; the Asian Pear Mojito was a favorite with one reviewer.
Facebook reviewers also praised the restaurant for its excellent wait staff, serene atmosphere, and beautiful presentation of its appetizers, entrees, sushi, soups and salads, and desserts.
All of this is accomplished through the dedicated efforts of Ann Nguyen, who took over co-ownership of the restaurant in 2011 with her ex-husband, and then sole ownership in 2016. The bistro was founded in 2006.
“I use local products and shop almost daily at local stores for fresh ingredients,” Ann says. “The only thing I order out of town is my fish because we do not have great local sushi distributors in Oklahoma City.
“I run the business with my heart and treat all my guests and employees like family,” she added, noting that she often brings her two children with her to work.