Trang Le Vietnamese: Ri Le chef brings excellence to Broken Arrow offshoot
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, August 23, 2012
3/28/13 at 8:18 AM
Trang Le, who had been cooking in the Ri Le Vietnamese Restaurant kitchen for two decades, started thinking about opening her own place last year.
She talked it over with her husband, Dong, and oldest daughter, Kim-Xoa, who agreed to join her in the new venture.
"Dad worked in the restaurant a long time ago, but he had been doing different things since," said Kim-Xoa, who acted as interpreter during a recent interview. "Mom and I dragged him along with us into the restaurant business. We opened in April, and I think he has had fun with it."
Ri Le is Trang Le's brother-in-law, and Binh Le, who also operates his own restaurant, is her brother.
"We lived a year in the Philippines before Ri Le could sponsor us to the United States," Trang Le said through her daughter. "I started cooking at Ri Le in October 1990."
Kim-Xoa said she scouted possible restaurant locations and liked what she saw in the Mayfair Shopping Center on the southeast corner of Kenosha Street (71st Street) and Aspen Avenue (145th East Avenue) in Broken Arrow.
"My parents thought Broken Arrow would be a good place to bring Vietnamese food because there wasn't anything like it here," Kim-Xoa said.
We stopped in on a recent evening, and the dining room was nearly full with a crowd that was about half Asian.
Because we had enjoyed signature dishes such as bun cha gio, hoisin beef and strawberry soy beef at Ri Le and Binh Le in the past, we decided to try something a little different.
For our entrees we selected banh xeo ($9.99) and shrimp lo mein ($9.99), and each was extraordinary.
Banh xeo consisted of three crepes with an egg wrapper cooked a little thinner and a little crispier than a standard American crepe. The crepes were filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, white onion and green onion, and were served with large leaf lettuce and mild sweet fish sauce.
I put a lettuce leaf under one crepe and ate it that way with a fork, and my wife used a leaf to hand-hold a crepe and keep it from falling apart. I guess either method is acceptable.
The mound of lo mein noodles sat beside a big serving of sliced mushrooms, shrimp, celery, broccoli and snow peas cooked in a flavorful brown sauce. We chose steamed rice over fried rice to pair with this dish.
We also shared two thin, crispy egg rolls ($3.49) filled with veggies and pork and served with the sweet fish sauce, as well as che chuoi ($2.49) for dessert. Che chuoi featured slices of cooked plantains combined with coconut milk and tapioca pudding, and the mixture delivered a pleasing flavor.
Our beverages included sweet Thai tea ($2.99) and hot jasmine tea ($1.99).
Like its sister restaurants, the dining room, kitchen and bathrooms are spotless at Trang Le. The dining room has a minimal, clean design with only modern light sconces and four televisions attached to the beige walls with white trim. The tile floor is new.
Kim-Xoa said she has a younger brother, Danny, and two younger sisters, Kim-Yen and Kim-Anh, both in college, who will help with the restaurant when possible.
TRANG LE VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT
723 N. Aspen Ave.
Broken Arrow 918-994-7676
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday; accepts all major credit cards.
Original Print Headline: Familial flavor
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Sesame soy chicken - cooked with dried, high-fiber soybeans and sesame seeds, peanuts and vegetables - is a chef's special at Trang Le.
The restaurant's owner, Trang Le (right), stands with her husband, Dong, and daughter Kim-Xoa. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World