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Jan 22, 2009 09:14 AM

Pittsburgh - Asian Food

I finally moved to Pittsburgh this week, and managed to try two of the Asian places that I have read about on here. First, I went to Tom Yum Kum in Edgewood. It is a very small, quaint Thai place out in nowhere, next to a laundromat. There are only 5 tables, but very nice. We got the chicken satay and fresh spring rolls as appetizers - both were pretty good. For entrees, i got a large bowl of Thai seafood noodle soup. Pretty tasty all in all, but the real winner was the pumpkin curry, made with fresh pumpkins and served over rice. This was absolutely delicious. At first I didn't really know how well pumpkins and curry would work together, but it really was perfectly married together. We will definitely go there again.

Also, we went to Me Lyng in Homestead, which Rick has posted on here, and which he liked. It is a Chinese/Vietnamese place on 8th street, just west of the Homestead Grays bridge (very close to the Walgreen's). The hostess told me that the cook was Vietnamese - very important to me, as I really prefer Vietnamese cuisine over Chinese. I got the beef pho, which was very good. I wouldn't say it was completely authentic in that the beef used was not the typical cut - it was more like the very tenderized pieces of meat that come in common Chinese dishes. The broth had all the right seasonings and aromas of star anise and cloves. We also got the orange chicken from the Chinese menu - unbelievable. We both thought it was the best orange chicken that we have ever had. The chicken was lightly fried, very crisp, and was sweet and succulent in a way that I have never tasted orange chicken before. We also got the Vietnamese version of Lo Mein - interesting, orange-reddish rice noodles (instead of wheat), with a light citrus undertone to it. The other real winner of the night were the spring rolls. They were fried, which I normally do not get, and usually do not care for. These were incredible, filled with meat and vegetables - so much better than the common fried spring or egg roll. They definitely were not healthy, but were wrong in such a wonderful way. The interior was actually quite cute. We went there twice already, and we will definitely be back. I would never go to P.F Chang's (which is around the corner) with this place nearby.

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  1. Zaw's Squirrel Hill, takeout only. Smiling Banana Leaf Highland Park. Nicki's Verona.
    Tram's, unique quirky Vietnamese Penn Ave Lawrenceville/Bloomfield.

    1. Glad you liked Me Lyng! A few people tried it on my rec. and didn't think it was good. I also liked Thai Cuisine (4627 Liberty Ave) in Bloomfield, the one time I went there. I got the winter curry which had some sort of squash in it and it was very good. I forget the name of the place, but the chinese restaurant across from P&W BMW on Baum Blvd. is very good and is supposed to be pretty authentic. It's late and my brain isn't working, but about in the middle of Murray Ave on Squirrel Hill there is another Asian place that I ate at once and had an excellent beef brisket hot pot. When you walk in there is a picture menu on the left and right walls, THAT is what you want to order from, not the atypical chinese menu you will be handed.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Rick

        i think the one on baum that you're referring to is Orient Kitchen. i like it - pretty authentic Cantonese food.

        1. re: Rick

          Went back to the place on Murray Ave and forgot to write down the name! It's on the adjacent corner to the Help U Sell real estate office. I had the garlic eggplant and it was excellent. I do prefer this place over Orient Kitchen on Baum.

              1. re: Rick

                Rick, I drove by Ka Mei and Thai Cuisine just the other day, and was wondering how good the food was in there. Ka Mei describes their cuisine as "Hong Kong" cuisine. Can you tell me what the general difference is between that and standard Chinese fare? Besides the garlic eggplant and beef brisket hot pot, do you recommend any thing else?

                1. re: pontormo

                  Standard Chinese fare depends where in China you are. Cantonese cuisine is standard fare.... in Canton.

                  1. re: johnnytang24

                    Great, thanks for the clarification! I guess I was thinking more of standard Chinese fare in Pittsburgh, since that is where we are and that is where the post is. Unless, of course, you are referring to the subtle differences in the Chinese cuisine in the regions of Squirrel Hill vs, say, Shadyside!

                  2. re: pontormo

                    Wish I could tell you I knew the difference, but I don't. All I've had there so far is the two dished you noted, but I get the feeling it would be hard to order something bad there.

          1. Thai Cuisine (mentioned above) and Thai Gourmet are within a couple blocks of one another on Liberty Ave. in Bloomfield and are both recommended; they have different atmospheres but are in the same price range. Cuisine is slightly more date-night as ambiance is concerned; Gourmet is more diner-y but the food is good and the servings are huge.

            Not far from Thai TYK (which I've yet to try, even though it's near where I live) is Green Mango/Noodle Hut, which is another Thai joint, slightly more expensive, but tasty for sure.

            There are two great Vietnamese places on Penn Ave. on the edge of Bloomfield: Pho Minh is in Garfield and Tram's Kitchen (also mentioned above) is down the street in Lawrenceville. Each has its partisans; I'm more a fan of Pho Minh, as it's generally quieter and less crowded, and the guy at Tram's is notoriously . . . assertive. I'd try 'em both if I were you, then judge for myself. Pho Minh's one of my favorite places to eat in town. There's also Pho Kim 88, south of the city in Castle Shannon, which I've been meaning to try for ages.

            4 Replies
            1. re: andybot

              Green Mango is really good. I've been to the one in Swissvale (?) and Monroeville. Pho Kim 88 is fantastic. I'm not a Thai/Viet food expert but have been very satisfied at both places.

              Someone wrote they were afraid of the sushi at Pho Kim. I say try it. We had salmon roll and salmon sashimi. Big noodle bowls.. yummy stuff.

              1. re: andybot

                Went to Thai TYK this weekend, it was very very good. Got the panang curry and my cousin ordered a duck dish, forget the name of it. Their Thai iced tea is also great, with a nice smokey flavor I haven't tasted in other Thai iced teas.

                1. re: andybot

                  Andy - I went to Tram's this past weekend. Interesting, the restaurant said that it opened at 10am. I was out early, and I am sure that there aren't too many people waiting to eat a late Vietnamese breakfast or early lunch, but they didn't open until about 10:30. I got the fresh spring rolls, which were decent...very dense as far as the rice wrapping, and the peanut sauce had a thickened and unusual taste. Not bad, but just different. The pho that I got was a bit disappointing...now I will say that I am still a bit congested with a cold, but I was still a bit disappointed that it was on the bland side. In addition, the side vegetable plate (which I am used to having come with Thai basil, bean sprouts, peppers, and possibly Thorny cilantro) only came with bean sprouts and lime. I think that I do know what you mean about the guy there being assertive - I think that it may be a cultural thing, but I suppose that he came come off a bit brash.

                  1. re: pontormo

                    Ooh, I missed this reply before -- yeah, I've heard secondhand stories about him demanding that people order when they're not ready yet. Like,

                    Waiter: You ready to order.
                    Patron: Uh, I think we need another minute, thanks!
                    Waiter: No. You ready to order!

                    Hah. Adds to the mystique though. But I'm definitely more a fan of Pho Minh. Let me know if you get to try it!

                2. First off, welcome to the city! I'm sure you'll discover lots of delicious places hidden around. I wanted to second the recommendation for Smiling Banana Leaf in Highland Park, their Tofu Paradise with peanut sauce is one of the best thai experiences in the city. If you love the Pumpkin Curry from Thai TYK, you've definitely got to try their Panang and Massaman, I think they do the best curries in the city. For great cheap thai, there's Thai Me Up in the Southside. One of my favorite chinese restaurants is Pacific Ring in Squirrel Hill. They have got this spectacular Chicken and Wild Mushrooms dish and everything I've gotten from there has been really fresh and really tasty. They also do Dim Sum and All You Can Eat Sushi on the weekends. For some of the best sushi in town, there's Sushi Kim on Penn Avenue downtown. They also do an AYCE Korean BBQ upstairs on the weekends which is a fascinating exploration into indulgence and an experience I'd recommend if you've never done it. Enjoy!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Daveman84

                    Daveman, thanks a lot for all of the recommendations - I will definitely find some time to make it to the Smiling Banana leaf, and will try one of your recommendations at TYK the next time I am there!

                  2. Also check out Bangkok Balcony and Sweet Basil in Sq Hill ...
                    And thanks to everyone that has posted recommendations here - I've been looking for good Asian places!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: zeezai

                      I just went to the Silk Elephant on Monday (Sq Hill). Very good Thai tapas (they have regular entrees as well).

                      1. re: burghgal

                        Second on Silk Elephant. I don't know from "authentic" Thai, but I have liked everything I ever got at the Silk Elephant.