The Tropical was on the Tasty Tulsa to-do list because of one simple fact – the owners of Lanna Thai are responsible for creating it. I can speak for myself, and my fellow Tasty Tulsa bloggers, in saying that Lanna Thai is one of our favorite restaurants in town with its comfortable ambiance and delicious cuisine. Not only owned by the purveyors of Lanna Thai, The Tropical also has the unique allure of being “Asian seafood fusion”.
After debating between the Lettuce Wrap or the Fried Calamari appetizers, we choose to dig into the Fried Calamari ($9) by recommendation of the waitress. The calamari was delicately breaded and seasoned with salt and lemon. It was a unique presentation as it was served with both a sweet peanut sauce and a spicy Sriracha ketchup, but it started to make sense after I saw myself and my dining companions dipping squid rings into alternating sauces. The squid had a very tender texture and light breading, which is now one of my favorite calamari appetizers in town.
After reading through the menu I really had no idea what I wanted, so I asked the friendly waitress for a recommendation. She said if I didn’t feel like fish I should try the Tonkatsu ($12), which is a tempura fried pork sirloin, served with a garlic fried rice and Tonkatsu sauce. I have had this type of dish at Fuji, and while I liked it at Fuji, I wasn’t in love with it. However, The Tropical’s version of tempura fried pork sirloin was especially delicious and stole my heart. I enthusiastically dipped every last bite into the honey mustard sauce, and gobbled up the garlic rice which was utterly magical to my taste buds.
Christine is always looking for the “Top Scallops” of Tulsa and chose an entree off the “Fresh off the Grill” portion of the menu. This portion of the menu features several seafood proteins to choose from, with several choices of sauces, to mix and match. She had her heart set on trying scallops with a red curry sauce, as these are two of her favorite things. However, when she ordered the waitress advised this would not be a good combination. After discussion with the waitress Christine chose the Scallops with Lemon Butter ($17) instead, and luckily she ultimately really enjoyed it. The large scallops were plentiful and deftly sauteed with the light sauce that didn’t overwhelm the scallop. She also full-heartedly agreed with me the garlic rice was off-the-charts awesome!
Jennifer ordered the Mee Siam ($10) which is a stir-fried rice vermicelli, eggs, fresh tofu, bean sprouts, and green onions. The menu describes it mixed in a Tropicalian sauce, which appeared to be missing in action on this visit. About 10 minutes after ordering the dish, the waitress came back and asked Jen if she wanted her Mee Siam dry or cooked with some sort of sauce. She opted for sauceless and used a bit of my Tonkatsu sauce to doctor it up. Overall, Jennifer enjoyed her dinner and described it as being similar to the Pad Thai at Lanna Thai.
We all felt that a dessert was in order and chose the Mango Crisps, which were more or less a mango donut hole. Needless to say, I loved these fried mango bits drizzled in honey.
The Tropical surprised me with how delicately prepared the dishes are with such great finesse. After a few minor mix-ups with the service and ordering dishes, I had my doubts that we would leave happy, but we ultimately did! I can assure you we will return to The Tropical and try a other items we were curious about on the menu – even the elusive red curry scallops!
The Tropical Restaurant & Bar is located at 8125 E 49th Street.