It seems like most people who find their way into Cafe Oasis are there for boba tea or smoothies and that’s fine. I like boba tea. I like smoothies. I’m cool. Ish.
But if you’ve only ever looked at one side of the big laminated menus, you’re missing out on one of the best little Chinese restaurants in Oklahoma City.
It can’t be easy to be Cafe Oasis, housed in that giant “mall” next door to Super Cao Nguyen. The first floor is stacked with powerhouse players like Mr. Pho and Tsubaki Szechuan. Meanwhile, you have to find the stairs to get to the relatively hidden Cafe Oasis. But those who make the trip will be rewarded. Not only is there a laid-back lounge area that seems perfect for a lazy, laid-back afternoon of reading or hanging out with friends, but the owner provides exceptionally friendly service and some really tasty food.
That said, let’s talk briefly about the power of names. Good food is good food is good food, but how can food be good if no one orders it? Regardless of the quality of a dish, names matter. Names tell a story, good or bad.
Cafe Oasis has some weird names on the menu. Did I order "Flat Noodles with Wet Scrambled Egg Sauce"? Of course I did. But I wouldn’t blame anybody for skipping over it because it sounds wonky.
But what is a carbonara sauce if not wet scrambled eggs, albeit with bacon? And I’m not saying what they serve at Cafe Oasis is a carbonara, but you see how a simple name can change the way you consider a dish?
So, anyway, I ordered the flat noodles with wet scrambled egg sauce with pork ($6.50) and it was really tasty. It was also an absolute ton of food for so cheap. Such a bounty can sometimes be worrisome, but I think this is just a place that is extremely generous with portions.
When it arrives at your table, if in fact you decide to order it, do yourself a favor and quickly stir it up. The sauce acts as an anti-clumping agent for the noodles, which will otherwise stick together in a way that makes the dish more difficult to eat. The scrambled egg sauce actually reminds me more of a lobster sauce, sans lobster. It’s creamy and rich, but not overly yellow or eggy.
The pork is very pale, which doesn’t stand out much against the sauce. Weirdly, I think I wanted more color on the meat, just so it would be more apparent where it was in every bite. Regardless, I quite liked it. Would order again.
Another weird, but accurately named, dish is the fried sweet biscuits (10 for $3.25). Similar to a beignet, these are in fact round biscuits that have been fried and rolled in sugar. It’s not actually all that sweet, but the sugar is a nice complement to the butter in the dough.
Another appetizer that is familiar, except for the lack of seafood, is the plate of cream cheese wontons (six for $3.25) that don’t have any crab in them. Let’s be honest with each other, at least this one time, and agree that the amount of crab in most crab rangoon is underwhelming at best.
There’s no pretense of crab in these. They’re wontons, folded around cream cheese and deep fried to perfection. They’re served with a sweet dipping sauce. Let them cool down a touch before you dive in, though, FYI.
I’m a big fan of lo mein in general, but the chicken lo mein ($6.50) at Cafe Oasis is near the top of my list. Lo mein has to balance between wet and dry, keeping the noodles slurpable without being soup. And the sauce has to be sticky enough to hold onto the meat and vegetables tossed in with it. I don’t know how lo mein sleeps at night. It probably gets a lot of massages and keeps downloading mediation apps on its phone.
The chicken was just how I like it, too. Sliced against the grain, the meat was ready, willing and able to absorb the sauce. And the sugars in the sauce caramelized and colored up in the heat, which gives it a lovely hue.
If you need more flavor, and I think you do, the pork Singapore noodles ($6.50) are an absolute must. Singapore noodles are thin, delicate rice noodles that are stir-fried with curry powder. The end result is a pile of golden noodles that emanate a sweet, spicy heat.
I think pork or chicken (or shrimp!) are the perfect protein for this dish. Each of them is mild enough that they provide a great base for the curry to bloom.
My only complaint is that I wish the curry were cooked down a little further and incorporated in the sauce. There was a slight grit to it that wasn’t particularly pleasant. That said, when I ate the leftovers, all it took was a little more heat to incorporate the curry powder into the dish.
If all you’re doing at Cafe Oasis is getting a smoothie, well, that’s fine. They make tasty drinks. But don’t sleep on the other side of the menu. The food is legit and the laid-back vibe is perfect for a late lunch. Plus, portion sizes are so big, you’ll almost certainly have a second meal to take home with you.