Restaurants throughout Pittsburgh are taking a hit right now. So we thought this would be a good time to highlight some of our favorite Asian restaurants in Pittsburgh, of which there are many. And here’s the good news: most of them deliver — on their own or using Uber Eats or another service. Grubhub just announced that they are deferring their commission fees and matching all promotions for independent restaurants.
And/or you can get takeout.
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.
KIIN Lao & Thai Eatery, Squirrel Hill
Lao food may not have caught on here the way Thai and Vietnamese have, but that should change if KIIN Lao & Thai Eatery is any indication. 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. Beware: They’ll ask if you want your food “Thai hot” or “Lao hot.” Answer carefully. In my experience, their “Thai hot” is more pleasantly spiced than fiery. “Lao hot” is indeed scorchingly hot. 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).
The appeal of street food is in its simple, unfussy, portable directness. Yet, Thai food is inherently complex — a maze of surprising yet perfectly interlocking, flavors: sweet, sour, spicy and salty. For a small menu, Noodlehead covers a lot of ground. Noodle dishes are offered at just two prices, $6 and $9. The portions are more street food-size (read: just right), so don’t assume you’ll need a to-go container. 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.
Above Round Corner Cantina, you’ll find Umami. It’s a Japanese word for a pleasant savory flavor, one of the five basic tastes from which all dishes spring. This Umami is an izakaya, a type of Japanese pub that seems to be quite popular around here all of a sudden. Red paper lanterns reflect polished wood late into the night, as revelers choose from robatayaki (slow-cooked on skewers over charcoal) of pork belly, Japanese eggplant, chicken skin, beef tenderloin and shrimp. There’s also sushi, takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), tonkotsu ramen, okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and plenty of sake to wash it down.
Chengdu Gourmet, Squirrel Hill
This place doesn’t look like much, online or in person. 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. Unless you’ve lived in China, you’re probably going to see some new things on the menu, many swimming in chiles. The trick is to embrace the unfamiliarity and take some chances. Prices are very reasonable, so it’s not a big risk. You can safely assume that if you order something like Spicy Rabbit in Flaming Pan, Frog with Pickled Turnip in Spicy Sauce or Spicy Duck with Devil’s Tongue Yam, it won’t need additional hot sauce to up the flavor.
Two Sisters Vietnamese Kitchen, East Liberty