REVIEW: Keo

The red curry udon noodles with grilled prawns at Keo Asian Cuisine in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

Not long before Zahidah Hyman opened her second Keo restaurant, she said she was putting some new items on the menu from her native Cambodia.

When I looked at the menu at the Keo that Zahidah and husband Bill recently opened in south Tulsa, I figured the Kmer noodles had to be one of those dishes.

The Kmer noodles ($12) featured rice noodles in a chicken and curry base with turmeric root, kaffir lime and lemongrass, topped with bean sprouts and Thai basil.

When the piping hot, big, black bowl arrived, I plowed right in with my wooden chopsticks. There was a time in the distant past I was competent with chopsticks, but to watch me now can’t be pretty. Before I was done, I had splattered the burnt orange-colored broth all over a nice shirt.

The noodle dish, however, turned out to be worth a trip to the cleaners. It delivered multiple layers of flavor, along with a spicy but not too hot edge to it.

I paired the dish with a gruner veltliner, a crisp white wine from Austria. The Spanish albarino would have been excellent, too. Keo has some nice wines and a full bar.

In addition to the noodle dish, we also had a shrimp dumpling appetizer ($7), Vietnamese chicken salad ($9), Malaysian fried rice with duck ($13) and chocolate mousse ($7).

The three fried shrimp dumplings were delicious and came with a small mixture of scallions, bamboo shoots, carrots and garlic that had a pleasant, sweet flavor.

The Vietnamese chicken salad included cabbage, carrots and roasted peanuts, and picked up some definite heat from a chili-lime dressing.

The Malaysian fried rice was a cut above the standard fried rice dishes. It included sprouts, peas, carrots, broccoli and onions topped with fried egg, crispy shallots and thin slices of tender duck. The duck was $2 extra and worth it.

The mousse was no lightweight. This version was thick, almost gooey, and had a deep, rich chocolate flavor. It was so rich, it almost was more than two of us could handle.

The dinner came with a complimentary bowl of garlicky edamame.

The full menu still offers an intriguing mix of Southeast Asian dishes with touches of East Indian and French cuisines.

Our server, Kirk, was a pro and delivered smooth service.

The Hymans opened their Brookside restaurant in 2007, and the new restaurant has a similar look, although it is a bit larger.

Large, circular white light fixtures and wavy fabric awnings across the ceiling will be familiar to Keo fans. The new restaurant also has a couple of banquettes set in semiprivate niches and large photos of Cambodian scenes.

The place was buzzing with diners of all ages at 8:30 p.m. on a recent weeknight.

“We have been very happy out here,” Zahidah said later. “I love this corner (northeast corner of 91st Street and Yale Avenue in the Tuscana on Yale shopping center). It is south, but it still is accessible to midtown.”

Cory Chang is managing partner of the new location, and Sam Pacheco is chef.

Find this and other restaurant reviews in Thursday's Weekend magazine and online at tulsaworld.com/cherrypicks.


KEO

8921 S. Yale Ave.

918-794-0090

3524 S. Peoria Ave.

918-794-8200

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; accepts all major credit cards.