Ma Der is one of the best things to hit OKC! It is located in the thriving, vibrant Plaza District and just one of the many culinary masterpieces to join the area. People underrate OKC time and time again and I am here to set the record straight and tell y’all that OKC is having a full moment right now and I am loving it. It only continues to grow and the culinary and coffee scene is maturing and growing and becoming so diverse in the Fly Over state. Maybe now people will take me seriously when I tell them to visit OKC! Anyways, back to Ma Der – it is a Laotian eatery that does it family style. This means it is best to go with a few people and order for the table so everyone can share. The chef is actually a James Beard Finalist, which is a pretty big deal and so incredible that OKC now has a seat at the table.
Ma Der also has a fun happy hour featuring yummy bites and drink specials. I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you aren’t familiar with Lao food so you can get a little taste at a cheaper price. And make sure to check out their daily specials – they offer these on Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday! I will definitely be checking out their daily specials because they sound so yummy! I went with a small group, so we were able to order a bunch of dishes to try. Here’s what we got: Sticky Rice, Crispy Rice Salad, Chili Dip, Lao Sausage, Aromatic Chicken Salad, Grilled Beef and Fried Chicken with Red Curry Fish Sauce. Let’s jump into these dishes!
First Up: Crispy Rice Salad was the most popular dish of the table – it was the unanimous favorite! It comes with seasoned rice that is cooked to become crispy (think if you left a rice pot on the stove and the bottom becomes crunchy – thats similar to what this is), pork sausage, mint, cilantro, green onions, lime, peanuts and ground chili. It was so flavorful and I loved the crunch of the rice but there was still a softness to it. 10/10 definitely get this. Next Up: Lao Sausage – this is made in house with a mix of herbs and spices. The flavor was really powerful but in a good way. It was very herb forward, which I enjoyed. 10/10 for flavor, but it only comes with 1 sausage link – so take that into account if you have a large party. Next Up: Aromatic Chicken Salad – you may have eaten this in a thai restaurant by another name of Larb. This is minced chicken with a ton of herbs and spices and served with cucumbers and chilis on top. This is meant to be eaten with the sticky rice because of the strong flavors, the rice helps mellow it out. On its own it is a bit salty, but it was a large portion with a ton of chicken and had a really nice flavor. When eaten with the sticky rice, it definitely helped chill out the salt. I recommend adding some of the chili dip to this – it could use a little sauce or something tangy or spicy with it. We gave this a 7/10. Next Up: Grilled Beef – this is lemongrass marinated beef rib fingers with toasted rice powder and pickled shallots. When the plate came out I was confused….I was expecting a much larger dish of sliced beef and this was two small skewers of beef that were definitely not enough for a table of 4. The beef was good, a bit fatty and chewy and the flavor wasn’t super powerful. The price is fairly steep for two small skewers, so as much as I want to love these, I would probably skip on ordering these. We gave them a 6/10 considering price, flavor, and portion size. Lastly: Fried Chicken – drumsticks with an optional red curry fish sauce. For only $10, this comes with a large portion of drumsticks (5 or 6) that are so crispy and crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy meat inside. We definitely recommend grabbing these 10/10 and bonus points for getting them during happy hour and saving a few bucks!
Overall this is definitely a MUST try spot in OKC! It is unique, flavorful, and fun. If you haven’t tried Laotian food, check them out and if you have give them a try and see what you think. For their full menu click here.
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