Details: Located at 136-20 38th Ave, Flushing, NY 11354. A claimed Yelp page can be found here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/ok-lah-flushing
I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff on the internet about this place. I’ve seen the video above, The New York Times did a review, and I also saw it on one of ny.eater.com’s heat maps. It’s all over the place. So I finally went down to try it out. What I found was a very tasty place to get food that would probably be more in successful in Manhattan versus Flushing.
Ok Lah! is a fast casual food stall that serves food cafeteria style. Think Dig Inn, except with an Asian twist. If you are unfamiliar with Dig Inn, think Chipotle, but higher quality, healthier and leaning more towards American food versus Mexican food.
Orders are structured as the following: first you pick rice or salad (you can get half and half), the you pick two sides, lastly you pick your protein. I ordered the roast chicken with cucumber-apple salad and a pasta salad with salmon mixed in. Keep in mind some items cost a little extra. For example, the pasta salad cost a dollar extra as did the steak. My food came out to twelve dollars.
If I were to describe the food, it’s 95% American food, 5% Asian. The food was good. The chicken was moist and tender. The sides were fine. I think the tastiest thing on my plate was the damn sauce they used. After plating all your food, they have a white sauce and a red sauce. The red sauce is spicy, but not that spicy. I think the white sauce is some kind of well season mayonnaise. It’s sweeter. The end result are two sauces that would make anything taste good. The serving size was also good.
My biggest issue with this restaurant has nothing to do with the food. It’s mostly to do with the price and location of the restaurant. In my mind, Ok Lah is the ideal competitor to places like Dig Inn, Chipotle, Indikitch, Korilla, etc. It is pretty much perfect against all these other fast casual type restaurants. It is the perfect price and taste to appeal to the working crowd in midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately, it is located Flushing. Flushing is predominantly Chinese, mostly immigrants (and illegal immigrants most likely). Like most people, Chinese people like eating food they’re familiar with like traditional Chinese food. Ok Lah! is at best American leaning Asian fusion. Further, the price is too high for the neighborhood. Customers can get your standard takeout meal that consists of the same basic element for about five to eight dollars. That’s almost half of what Ok Lah! costs. The quality is undoubtedly lesser than Ok Lah!, but Chinese people prefer Chinese food anyways.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m worried about this restaurant. It’s good, but I don’t know how financially successful it will be. If they opened in Manhattan, I think the would be swimming in money, but that requires a large initial investment I’m not sure they had. Which is a shame because if this place was near my office, I’d come here every day. Unfortunately, it is not.
Overall, Ok Lah! is great. Unfortunately, it’s in a location where competing options are cheaper and the majority of the neighboring populace prefers a different kind of cuisine. But Ok Lah! is getting a lot of attention. I hope the business gets enough success to move to Manhattan or perhaps some wealthy investor will come by and relocate the business.