If there’s only one thing I can say about Krave Teriyaki (and wouldn’t that make for a terrible, if extremely brief review?), it’s that this southside OKC restaurant is very aptly named. I’ve eaten there a few times and every time I know I’m going to be in the area, I just cannot help myself. I crave Krave.
While teriyaki absolutely has Japanese roots, Krave comes from the Seattle teriyaki tradition, which relies much more on heavy sauces applied to grilled meats and rice. I mean, the word teriyaki literally translates to “glazed and grilled.”
What the fast food burger is to Oklahoma City, teriyaki is to Seattle. There are a million little shops doing their own versions—some good, some bad—and it’s woven into the culture. Quick, cheap, tasty: sounds familiar?
If I’m honest, what I’d like to see are some Krave competitors. It’s wonderful when a new dining option materializes in Oklahoma, but it’s even better when you have two (or three, or four, etc.) competing, driving one another, giving customers more choice and more information.
For instance: I like Tamashii Ramen and Goro Ramen a lot. A lot a lot. And whenever I talk about one, I can guarantee you somebody will pop up in the comments to let me know the other one is superior. Which is fine, because that’s how opinions work. (And that’s before we get into the other places doing ramen, like Yuzo Sushi Tapas, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant, the newly opened Masa, and others.)
My friend Megan is from the Seattle area and she was ecstatic when she heard about Krave. When she tried it, she liked it, but not as much as her favorite spot in Redmond called Yumiko. And that’s understandable! Of course a city with so many teriyaki options will have more variety and more opportunities for diners to find “the one” that makes it “right.”
I am wild about Krave and I’m going to keep going back, but it sure wouldn’t hurt my feelings if a few more Seattle-style teriyaki spots opened up around the metro to convert a few more Okies to this delightful cuisine.
While you absolutely should and must and will get some teriyaki at Krave, that is not the only thing on the menu. Not that I’d be super upset if it was, mind you, but it’s all kept “in the family” here. Lots of items have multiple uses, as well they should, because that’s how restaurants work.
When my girl Jess and I go, it’s a given that chicken wings will make an appearance. There are two flavors—sweet & spicy and garlic butter—and a variety of sizes. Six wings will run you $8. Twenty-four wings are $25. You can extrapolate from there.
There are two things I love about these wings. First, they are perfectly crispy fried wings, not so large that you get a lot of weird sinew or fat pockets, but a good size with a lot of fried crispiness to balance the supple meat inside. Secondly, the sauces are not overwhelmingly sweet or hot, but just a really lovely flavor. The garlic butter wings, especially, showcase that rich buttery flavor that makes me swoon.
While I generally eschew boneless chicken pieces served this way, I will make an exception for Krave’s chicken bites ($8.99 small, $11.99 medium, $14.99 large) which buck the trend with a lovely juiciness inside each bite-sized piece. Also, the small is huge—big enough to be an entree, but great for sharing if you’re watching a game with friends or prepping a movie night feast.
Krave also does sushi, which I’m all for. The prices are right on the high end for utility sushi, but the quality is, too. My personal favorites were the unagi roll ($10.99) and the Philadelphia roll ($9.99), but I’m open to trying a few more, if you’re asking.
I am also legally obligated* to tell you that Krave serves mandoo (six for $4.99 or 10 for $6.49). Mandoo are interchangeable with gyoza on this menu, so what you’re getting are lovely little pork-and-veggie-stuffed dumplings that are fried up crisp.
*I swear, you get slightly naked in public while eating dumplings and suddenly you’re legally obligated to do all kinds of weird stuff.
But let’s get down to the brassiest of tacks and dig into the teriyaki. I’ll tell you my thoughts, but I really insist you get down to Krave and try a little bit of everything, because I think you’ll find a lot to love.
Krave’s teriyaki comes in 16 varieties—choose from chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken katsu, beef, pork, salmon, shrimp, or tofu, and either regular or spicy sauce—and I highly recommend you start with chicken thigh in regular sauce. Why? Because this is baseline teriyaki and you’re going to need to know where to start.
Chicken breast and thigh are so different I sometimes wonder how they come from the same animal. While so many people love the simplicity of white breast meat, which lacks a lot of the fat and intramuscular sinew of thigh meat, it is also a much more bland cut of meat. Personally, I prefer the thigh, which has a texture that requires just a bit more chewing, but rewards diners with a lot more flavor. And it’s not like you’re getting a bunch of rubbery chicken at Krave. It’s still quite tender, as well as being $1 cheaper. A clear choice.
A teriyaki plate is $8.99 and comes with one protein, one sauce, a salad, and rice. That said, the price only applies to chicken thigh and tofu. All the other proteins are $1 more, except for beef ($2) and salmon ($3).
A better deal, especially if you, like me, enjoy trying lots of options, is the teriyaki combo ($11.99) which includes two proteins (salmon not included) and only upcharges $1 for beef or shrimp. While I am pretty well smitten with the beef and spicy sauce, I just tried the pork recently and YOWZA, that’s an excellent pairing with chicken thigh.
Spicy sauce is a bit extra, but I really enjoy the added punch it brings.
I know I’m a real basic, but I sure do love fried rice ($8.99) and I think Krave does a really great job with theirs. It’s not drive-30-minutes-out-of-your-way fried rice, but it’s certainly worth getting if you’re ordering for a large group. It comes out in a sizzling cast iron skillet, which is both wonderful for showmanship, but also ensures you’ll get some of those crispy burnt rice pieces that are so delightful.
Yakisoba ($9.99) is similar, but with larger chunks of veggies and, of course, the replacement of rice with noodles. It’s great with chicken thigh, but next time I go, I’m getting it with shrimp. It just seems like an ideal form factor to include plump grilled shrimp. But be sure to hit it with a little extra soy sauce and maybe some togarashi powder to bump up the flavors, because it’s a pretty mild dish overall.
At a time when it seems like a constant battle between making food accessible and retaining a cuisine’s original taste and feel, Krave definitely falls on the accessible side. It’s harkens back to Japanese cuisine, but it’s also got deep Seattle takeaway roots, meaning customers need not feel even a hint of apprehension. This is feel-good food that’s equally easy to savor or scarf. I plan on doing both.