Lang Thang understands why some people may feel a little unsure of what to expect when he greets them at his family’s restaurant.
“I get funny looks sometimes,” Thang said. “The restaurant is called Louisiana Seafood, but then they see me. I am Asian. I come from Burma. So maybe they think the food is not authentic.
“But once they taste it,” he said with a grin, “they know we’re doing it right.”
The shop’s full name is Louisiana Seafood & Po’ Boys, which Thang operates with his uncle, Lun Mang, and mother-in-law, Niang No. Mang and No oversee the kitchen, while Thang takes care of the front of the House.
Thang said his family left Myanmar when he was in high school, settling first in Louisiana. He said many of his family members had worked in restaurants in their home country and soon found industry jobs here, including at restaurants specializing in Louisiana cuisine.
Thang moved to Tulsa in 2014 because he had family in the city’s vibrant Burmese community. And when he thought about opening his own restaurant, he thought of one that would serve Myanmar cuisine.
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“But there’s another restaurant (Kai Burmese Cuisine) that does really good Burmese food, and we didn’t want to compete with them,” he said. “My uncle learned how to make real Louisiana food, so we decided to bring the real taste of Louisiana to Tulsa.”
This effort to bring the “true taste of Louisiana to Tulsa” includes importing most of its ingredients—from fish and shellfish to bread for po’ boy sandwiches—from the Pelican State.
True aficionados of po’ boys — the oversized sandwich that’s typically filled with fried seafood or fish, an iconic Louisiana creation — are often extremely choosy about the bread used. For them, an authentic po’ boy can only be served in a certain type of French bread, with a light, thin crust and a soft but firm dough.
Louisiana Seafood gets its bread from Gambino’s Bakery, a New Orleans establishment that’s one of two bakeries whose products are considered essential for a true po’ boy.
We tried the shrimp po’ boy ($11.99) on a recent visit and can attest that the texture and flavor of the bread ticked all the boxes. Our sandwich had spent a few minutes on a grill or under a panini press, which added some char lines to the surface and gave the crust a bit more crispiness.
It was also quite large in size, with a generous amount of fried shrimp and dressed in lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise and ketchup. Thang said some people were surprised by the addition of the latter condiment, but said “when people try it, they like the flavor.”
Po’boys are also available with fried oysters, catfish, alligator and soft shell crab, crayfish, roast beef, hot sausage, smoked sausage, ham and Turkey.
We also tried the Medium Catfish and Shrimp Platter ($14.99), which included six large fried prawns and two good-sized catfish fillets, along with a portion of fries and a salad of iceberg lettuce, a thick slice of Roma tomato and ranch dressing.
The catfish, like most protein here, was cooked to order and arrived to the table piping hot. The fish itself was moist, flaky, and remarkably clean tasting, without the sludge or fishiness that catfish can get (and, okay, some people enjoy). The crust was light on the cornmeal so it had the crunch without the grit.
We also had the okra ($6.99), which came with a full serving of white rice. The broth was richly colored and flavorful, although more lightly seasoned than I expected. Louisiana-style hot sauce and sriracha are on the table for those who want to up the spice level.
The method of presenting rice and soup separately is more in line with Myanmar cuisine, Thang said.
“We have fried rice on our menu, and it’s traditional when you have rice to serve it with soup,” he said. “That’s why we also have pho (Vietnamese soup) on our menu, because our Burmese customers can order it to go with the fried rice.”
Another cross-cultural offering is the Crawfish Egg Roll ($1.99), a large package of cabbage, carrots and finely chopped crayfish in a thin wrap.
The space occupied by Louisiana Seafood & Po’ Boys has housed a number of other restaurants, including Asian Kitchen. Thang said he initially looked for a place near Woodland Hills Mall, which is close to his home, but found what was available either too expensive or not equipped for restaurant use.
“It was a good thing about this place – we didn’t have to do a lot to set it up,” he said. “I got new booths, tables and chairs, because the old stuff was in bad shape.”