Local Dining By BLAKE AUSTYN
FLAVORS OF THE SEA: The Tropical Restaurant and Bar, 8125 E. 49th St., was opened in 2011 by the owners of Lanna Thai, 7227 S. Memorial Dr. The family added The Tropical as an upscale Thai restaurant concept with a focus on surf and turf.
BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers
The Tropical Restaurant and Bar, 8125 E. 49th St., opened in 2011 as a second restaurant concept for the Karnchanakphan family, who have been in the Tulsa community for decades.
The family’s original restaurant is Lanna Thai, which opened in 1998 at 51st Street and Harvard Avenue. A second Lanna Thai location opened in 2002 at 7227 S. Memorial Dr.
The Tropical was added as an upscale Thai restaurant with a focus on surf and turf.
The restaurant’s upscale intention would not necessarily be known by looking just at the exterior, which is a house with a picket fence in front. However, once you step inside, the atmosphere shifts.
The interior is very warm. I particularly enjoyed the bar area, which includes a number of tables and booths and a fireplace.
My mother and I came for an early dinner on a Friday evening, and we noticed a nice crowd regularly trickling in, made up of all ages, including families with little ones.
The Tropical’s Thai menu is extensive, with many names hard to pronounce, but our waitress was knowledgeable, and she offered many helpful suggestions.
The menu consists of salads, soups, curry and pasta dishes, and signature entrees, such as a New York strip, ribeye and trout.
For our appetizers, she suggested The Tropical Lettuce Wrap, one of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers. It came with a mix of crispy rice, green onions, red onions, cilantro, carrots, and mint plus noodles and peanuts with iceberg lettuce scoops.
I loved the freshness and the added flavor of peanuts. Delicious!
The size was large enough that my mom said that she could eat this as her whole meal, but granted, she is not known for her large consumptions of food. So I don’t know that most people would feel similarly.
We also tried the Corn Cakes, made of herbs and green beans mixed with corn. The dish came with four cakes and offered a surprisingly sweet, unique flavor. We couldn’t get enough of them.
When I was deciding on my entree, there is a red curry dish at Lanna Thai that I am absolutely obsessed with, so I was torn between ordering a dish that our server said was similar to that or opting for something different.
But this is a food review, after all, and I am always a fan of trying new things, so I chose the Penne Keow Whan, which still incorporates curry, and I love curry.
The dish is made up of green curry, penne, basil, sugar snap peas, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and avocado, plus your choice of a meat. I chose the seafood medley, which includes shrimp, scallops, calamari and salmon.
I enjoyed the slightly spicy flavor of the green curry. Though, some portions of the seafood, namely the scallops and calamari, were a bit too fishy and chewy for me.
My mother chose a dish from the menu’s Flavors off the Grill items, the Jumbo Sea Scallop, which did not consist of one scallop as the name might suggest, but closer to six scallops.
All dishes in this category come with jasmine rice and the choice of an original house-made sauce, a topping and a side.
She ordered the Thai Garlic sauce, Sweet Pepper Mango topping and Corn Cakes as the side.
The flavors all melded together nicely, with the sweet mango flavors combining well with the Thai Garlic sauce.
The Tropical is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with lunch starting at 11 a.m. and dinner at 5 p.m.