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Louis Fowler / Red Dirt Report
Ur/bun in the Uptown 23rd District in Oklahoma City.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sauntering down NW 23rd after 11 p.m., hands in pockets, stomach empty, I felt like a gumshoe in an old film noir. Coming out of a show at the Tower, as slow, silky jazz played a lonesome tune in the background of my mind, neon signs flashing “Bar Bar Bar” and “Girls Girls Girls” whizzed by my peripheral vision.

But I didn’t need a drink, and I surely didn’t need a broad. I needed something to eat.

You’d think that all these eateries along the refurbished Uptown 23 rd District would stay open a little later to catch the feening concert crowd, but I guess keeping the lights on past their bedtimes is more a Big League City thing. Oklahoma City is lucky enough to be middle management at best.

But there was one business that hadn’t shut their buzzing neon off yet, seemingly staying open in spite of all the inedible darkness that currently surrounded them. Noticing a few people picking up orders and even eating—unrushed—in the narrow dining room, I poked my head through the door of Ur/Bun, 431 NW 23rd , to see if they were still taking orders and the gentleman behind the counter cheerfully nodded his head and motioned for me to come in.

While I probably could’ve easily done rote pizza or routine burgers just to get something in my stomach, to have high-quality Korean-fusion such as this made just the entire evening all the better. The brainchild of local chef Daniel Chae, Ur/Bun takes fast food to the next level by offering steamed buns and filling them with a variety of tantalizing toppings, pairing them off with fries, a Coke and a smile for only a few bucks. Talk about a value meal.

As the last order of the night, I put in for the Triple Bun Bag ($12.99), ordering the Duck, the Tonkatsu and the always welcomed slow-roasted Pork Belly. All served on fresh, spiritually consistent clouds of sweetly flavored cooked dough, the dark night got a little bit brighter as that tray was almost immediately set in front of me and I commenced to chow both down and up shamelessly as tables around me were being wiped down.

Starting off with the Duck, a beautifully pan-seared breast surrounded by cracklings and scallions with a sensual spread of hoisin sauce, the fatty meats just dribbled a mixture of juice and sauce down the front of my chest, the plump bun desperately trying to sponge every drop of that meaningfully tangy mix. Each careful bite of the duck was a surprise of packed earthy flavor that almost made me wish I had saved it for last.

But, as I started in on the Tonkatsu, it was hard not to feel the same ultimately fickle way as the tender breaded pork loin crunched delicately as the masticated meat melted in my mouth. The welcomed tart of the slaw and the savory sweet heat of the Bulldog BBQ sauce, hello, delivered a right-hook to the tastebuds out of nowhere and I crawled back for seconds like a punk.

Now where it comes to one of my favorite cuts of meat, I will always have Pork Belly in my top five, perhaps from growing up and seeing it used it so many dishes my Mexican grandmother would make, especially for breakfast. The memory of the salty, crisp skin mingling with that taut fatty inside is a mnemonic taste that even now is making my mouth burn for just a little bite, please Lord, please.

The mouthwatering fare at Ur/bun. (Louis Fowler / Red Dirt Report)

Ur/Bun’s slow roasted Pork Belly bun, in those regards, did not fail and probably never could. Slow-roasted and slathered with sweet gochujang house sauce and, thankfully, pickled onions and scallions, it’s a borderline overkill of pork goodness, especially for so late at night, but screw it, I’m got nothin’ to do tomorrow.

If they weren’t shutting down the kitchen, I probably would’ve ordered three more for breakfast.

I say that, but, honestly, by the time I got thorough those three mighty works of culinary know-how, the fries were a moot-point and stuffed in a to-go bag, but refills of pop definitely a much-vaunted need, especially if you have one or two dips in the tongue-infusive House Jang or Szechuan sauces. God bless ice cold Coca-Cola, I guess.

Tipping my cap to the staffer holding the door open as I left, eternally grateful to Ur/Bun for feeding me when they didn’t have to, I sucked in the chilled air as I stood on the corner, waiting for my cab. Whether it’s building up the blood-sugar before the show or coming down off all that adrenaline rush afterwards, if that beautiful pink UB is shining brightly, don’t think twice to enter, it’s alright. ¡Cómpralo ya!

431 NW 23rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: (405) 602-1534

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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