Pan and Umami

There was a time, I’m told, when it was tough to find a decent Asian restaurant in Pittsburgh. As a relatively recent transplant, I just have to take those folks at their word. Because right now, it’s never been easier to get great ramen, curry, sushi and more without leaving your neighborhood. The options are vast and varied, ranging from the casual Thai food of Mt. Lebanon’s new Thai Touch Kitchen to the high-end Japanese fare of Umi to the vegetarian bonanza of Indian cuisine that is Udipi. You can even grab hibachi on the go at one of Nakama’s flashy food trucks. And this summer, two new Lawrenceville restaurants are adding even more options to the mix.

Though Tamari just closed last month, the space didn’t stay empty for long. Pan, the new eatery from the folks behind the three Andora restaurants, opened this past Friday at 3519 Butler Street. The name Pan is a nod to the eatery’s pan-Asian menu, which includes influences from a variety of countries (everything from pho to maki to drunken noodles). Pan also features a full bar and a small patio for al fresco dining.

Speaking of Tamari, former Tamari chef Roger Li is on his way to opening Umami just a few blocks down the street. Destined for the space above Round Corner Cantina, Umami is modeled after a traditional izakaya, or informal Japanese drinking establishment. Li’s menu will include sushi, Japanese street food and robata dishes cooked on a charcoal grill, as well as a drink menu heavy on sake and Japanese whiskey. Leading up to a late summer opening, Umami is holding a series of pop-ups—the next of which happens tonight on Round Corner Cantina’s patio.

Pittsburgh offers a lot more than pierogies and Primanti’s these days. And if you’ve found yourself grumbling about the city’s lack of good Chinese food (or sushi, or pad thai, or…), it might be time to look again—I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In other news…

This Saturday, GoodTaste! Pittsburgh is presenting Hometown Homegrown at the Heinz History Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will include more than 40 vendors, presentations from local chefs and live music.

This weekend, the Sharp Edge is holding their 19th annual Great European Beer Festival featuring over 100 brews from around the world.

Big Hop, East End Brewing’s flagship IPA, is now available in cans. East End is the latest brewery to join craft beer’s move towards cans, which are more environmentally friendly than bottles.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.