Chinese Food In Pittsburgh

When I started eating Chinese Food in Pittsburgh, I can remember two sorts of places. There were cheap takeout joints like Ghengis Cones, which had Peking Duck sandwiches and soft ice cream. There were also “red plastic covered chairs” places, like Jimmy Tsang’s, which fed many people at once, but whose food was not really identifiably Chinese. I also remember making the mistake of bringing my Northern Chinese mom to the old Szechaun House restaurant, and getting nothing but complaints about how the food was not fresh and vaguely stinky.

Given this background, it makes me happy that today you can pick up the Post Gazette and read an article about two Chinese restaurants that actually do serve food that reminds me of what my mom used to make.

It also makes me happy that the food writer picked exactly the two places in town that I would have chosen. You could quibble and say that Tasty or Chopstick Inn belong on the list, but both of those places retain the “double menu” structure that both Rose Tea and Orient Kitchen do not have. Since I grew up eating the Northern Chinese and Taiwanese style food that my mom made, I have a special affection for Rose Tea. That should not keep you from going after the Cantonese stuff at Orient Kitchen. Bottom line, give these people your money.

I have two minor quibbles with the article. First, the use of “Bean Leaf” as a translation for snow-pea sprouts is a bit literal and sounds strange to my ear even though it is literally correct. Second, the woman should have gotten the Home Style Pork Intestine with Duck Blood. She’s missing out. She mostly makes up for it by mentioning the Chunk Chicken, which remains the single best East Asian dish available in Pittsburgh. Also, if you like the vegetable dishes she mentions, you can get all those greens at Lotus in the strip, the best produce store in Pittsburgh.

It’s taken a long time, but I think Pittsburgh has finally gotten beyond Peking Duck and soft serve Ice Cream. Hopefully we can hold on to Rose Tea and Orient Kitchen. It would be a shame to lose them. Now, if only there were a single place that made good pot stickers.