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Pittsburgh has a panoply of great restaurant that span the vastness of Asia, specializing in everything from sushi to Szechuan. Here are some of our absolute favorites. This is far from a definitive list. One estimate is that there are more than 90 Asian restaurants in the East End, and 30 in Squirrel Hill alone. As always, we welcome your comments. And stay tuned for more articles on how to support local restaurants. Everything here is great, but the Lao dishes are especially worth trying — like the Khao Poon, a red coconut curry with vermicelli rice noodles, and the Mok, a fish dish steamed and served inside a banana leaf.
Striking graffiti-style murals liven up the space—a departure from the usual stoic statuary found in Thai restaurants—which perches above Forbes Avenue in the old Bangkok Balcony location. Read more about it here. Everyday Noodles, Squirrel Hill Go for the food, stay for the show — a theatrical display of noodles being made fresh on the spot. Noodle chefs are kneading, twirling, swinging them through the air, smacking them against the counter.
Everything tastes fresh and light. Everyday Noodles features dishes all over the Chinese map, from Taiwanese-style sesame cold noodles and spicy dan dan noodles with a peanutty twist to steaming bowls of noodle soup perfect for cold, wet day or any day.
Noodlehead, Shadyside The appeal of street food is in its simple, unfussy, portable directness. For a small menu, Noodlehead covers a lot of ground. A steaming, medium-sized bowl of Sukothai is a great place to start and not often found on local Thai restaurant menus. Submerged within a spicy, peanut-filled lime broth are thin rice noodles and pork loin, with a hard-boiled egg and a few crunchy fried noodles on top. This Umami is an izakaya, a type of Japanese pub that seems to be quite popular around here all of a sudden.
Looks can be deceiving: It may be the best Chinese restaurant in the state and one of the very few with a multiple James Beard Award-nominated chef Wei Zhu at the helm. The trick is to embrace the unfamiliarity and take some chances. Photo courtesy of Two Sisters Vietnamese Kitchen. The Bun Bo Hue, a spicy lemongrass soup with beef brisket, beef shank and pork roll, tastes like something grandma would make if she was Vietnamese.
Photo by Mike Machosky. The extra-fried pork jerky is particularly delicious. Make sure you try the drinks — the Thai tea limeade is great for those craving something sweet. These soft steamed buns are like an entire meal in one dumpling.
The pork belly, for instance, has a rich array of textures and flavors, with peanuts, pickled cucumber and cilantro, and the crispy chicken has slaw and Sriracha mayo packed inside. Ki Ramen, Lawrenceville This spot serves handmade ramen in a stylish, convivial Japanese izakaya-style restaurant.
Big windows look out on always-active Butler Street. Fried tofu is tossed in a pineapple-soy glaze. Photo courtesy of Soju. Soju, Garfield Soju is less concerned with tradition and more into unlocking Korean flavors in a stylishly minimalist barroom with great drinks. You can get classics like Bulgogi thinly-sliced beef , Japchae sweet potato noodles and Bibimbap mixed rice bowl with spinach, bean sprouts, mushroom, spicy cucumber and egg.
You can also get not-at-all-traditional Korean food like Hawaiian Poke marinated raw tuna over hot rice and Korean Poutine fries and savory gravy, with tofu instead of cheese curds.
Yuzu Kitchen, Downtown. Photo by Michael Machosky. The Japanese izakaya is having a moment right now, for those interested in a better brand of bar food.
In a city full of delicious fried things, the Salt and Pepper Crispy Tofu is one of the best additions in years, covered in scallions, garlic, red onions and jalapenos. The Fried Chicken Bao buns, with a squirt of spicy paprika mayo, are also terrific.
Soba remains a really attractive, stylish place—lots of dark wood, bamboo, rich textures and semi-hidden alcoves. Shu, so you should eat whatever he feels like making though they do have a menu.
The seven- and course omakase meals unfold gradually, subtly, like gently rolling waves lapping at the beach. Thankfully, a new front patio and glass garage door and the savory scent of Taiwanese cooking has banished any lingering scent of soap suds.
Squid with Chinese Pickle Mustard Green and Intestine with Sour Cabbage are right at the top, like a challenge to the adventurous eater. Photo by Elaine Labalme. Sure, why not? Trying lots of small plates is always a fun way to eat, and Silk Elephant always has something interesting—sometimes traditional, sometimes not.
The Curry Puffs, filled with chicken, potato and onion, are always on the menu, as is the lightly-fried Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaf, and sweet-and-spicy Mango Salad. One of the few things left standing besides Mad Mex from that era is the incredibly durable Spice Island , which has introduced Thai, Burmese, Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean dishes into the culinary bloodstream of Pittsburgh for a long time.