Many no doubt remember the Great Wall restaurant that operated successfully on the southeast corner of 71st Street and Yale Avenue for many years.
Sadly, in its last few years, the dining room seemed to be cramped, dark and becoming run down before it closed a little more than a year and a half ago.
Gigi and Anthony Tan have done wonders with the place, both visually and in the kitchen, at their new restaurant, Gigi’s Kitchen.
“We were driving around, and Gigi saw this place for lease,” Anthony said. “We liked where it was, and we thought we could make the space work for us.”
They put in a new kitchen, knocked down some walls and remodeled the dining room into a sunny, inviting space. It still isn’t fancy, but everything is new and shiny.
“We’ve been here four months, and the location has been good,” Anthony Tan said. “We’ve had a lot of response from the hospital and medical buildings and other businesses around here, and people are finding us for dinner, too.”
He said the Tans formerly operated Chinese restaurants in Bixby and Broken Arrow before making the move to Tulsa.
“The people in our church kept asking us to move into central Tulsa, and they have been supporting us, too,” Gigi Tan said. “It was a good thing to do.”
Gigi specializes in traditional Cantonese cooking, much like what most people in this part of the country grew up with, and another cook handles the Szechuan-style items.
Our party wound up with broccoli beef ($9.95), shrimp lo mein ($10.95), kung pao chicken ($8.95), spicy chicken with peppers ($9.95) and pineapple seafood fried rice ($9.95).
The latter dish was a pretty thing. Pineapple chunks had been mixed with fried rice and grilled shrimp and served in a fresh pineapple that had been scooped out. Pineapple gave it most of its flavor, and a little sprinkle of sweet chili sauce and Sriracha hot sauce gave it a boost.
Kung pao chicken and spicy chicken with peppers were the spiciest of our dishes.
Kung pao got its kick from dried red chilies and a chili sauce to go with carrots, onions and green peppers. Sliced jalapenos added some heat to the spicy chicken that also included onions and napa cabbage with sesame seeds sprinkled across the top.
Beef with broccoli, carrots, onions and green peppers in a brown sauce and the shrimp lo mein were flavorful classic dishes with mild preparations.
In addition to the entrees, we also had crunchy, fresh, fried spring rolls with sweet-and-sour dipping sauce (two for $1.99) and a bowl of rich egg drop soup ($2).
Some of the larger seafood entrees cost up to $16.95, but most items are about $10. Ten lunch specials with choice of beef, chicken or shrimp are $6.95 to $7.95 and are served with a choice of soup or fruit.
“Gigi also makes dim sum dishes on Saturday and Sunday mornings,” Anthony Tan said. “People always like that.”
Tan said he is in the process of acquiring licenses to serve beer and wine. Hot tea is served in attractive ceramic pots.
Seating is a mix of booths and tables with black metal chairs, and tabletops are covered in multicolored vinyl cloths. Walls are painted in orange, green and cream and decorated with Asian accents.
Gigi is from China, and Anthony, who has been in the restaurant business some 30 years, was born and raised in Malaysia. His grandfather immigrated there from China.