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@umi_Pittsburgh Birthday Times

Yesterday was Mr. Beez’s birthday, and birthday means birthday dinner.  His pick was Umi, which if you are not already in the know, is the absolute best sushi restaurant– if not absolute best restaurant all around– in Pittsburgh.  I don’t know what to say about Umi, other than the food is absolutely beautiful and the service impeccable. That place is the best.

Mr. Beez’s birthday wish was to eat ALL THE ROCK SHRIMP TEMPURA.  Ok, we didn’t eat all of it, but we ordered it twice.  This is no ordinary tempura.  The batter coating is a little thicker than usual tempura, and the sauce is ever so spicy. There’s some substance to the shrimp, they are a little meatier than usual shrimp.  If you try it, it will be easy to understand why Mr. Beez loves it so much.

Umi Rock Shrimp Tempura

I do love that dish, but my absolute favorite is the miso blackened cod. It’s so buttery, with a touch of umami taste, and the texture is so tender.  The miso blackened cod is absolutely the most perfect dish ever.  Of course, we ate it twice.

Umi Miso Blackened Cod

Oh that dinner. I can’t even.


This dinner and my meal at Jaleo were the only detours from my vegan trajectory as of late.  I’ve been doing a lot more cooking, and Mr. Beez got me a whole stack of amazing vegan cookbooks for Mother’s Day.  You can expect some upcoming posts about the delicious and unexpected things I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen (with the assistance of the wisdom of Isa Chandra Moskowitz). We’ve been eating very well in this family lately.

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The sushi that will ruin you to all other sushi: @umi_Pittsburgh

The sushi that will ruin you to all other sushi: @umi_Pittsburgh

My first visit to Umi was at some point after I graduated law school. It was not my first experience eating sushi, by a long shot. I generally like sushi, but would not consider myself a sushi snob. Then I visited Umi. It ruined me to all other sushi.

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Umi’s offerings are so fresh, so melt-in-your mouth delicious that after eating Mr. Shu’s wonderous creations, sushi from any run of the mill sushi joint will taste grainy and sad.

It is a very small establishment.  Reservations are a must. There is first-come seating at the sushi bar, but it is a small bar and only seats a couple of people. It is worth calling ahead to secure a table.  If you reserve through OpenTable, it does not give you the option to select regular chairs vs. the tatami tables.  When I learned we were seated at a tatami table (and there were no regular tables available to switch), I almost cancelled the reservation. However, there is a big open space underneath the tatami table, so you are not seated cross-legged, but rather seated just like you would in a regular chair, with your feet below in the open space. It’s hard to get into and out of, but while you are sitting there, it is just fine.

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Oh the salmon mushroom sashimi. So velvety and savory. There just isn’t any substitute for the quality and care Mr. Shu devotes to these dishes.

Umi’s prices, not surprisingly, run on the “very special event” end of the spectrum for us. This is why I was never able to go as a student, because I did not have disposable income to eat. Of course, we cannot now visit nearly as much as I would absolutely love, either.

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In this last visit, I ordered lots of sushi rolls. This really was a disservice to Umi’s brilliant menu, and the quality of the fish does get lost in all that rice. The next time I visit, I will absolutely order the Omekase (chef’s tasting). Our dining companion, Anthony, did order the Black Cod with Miso (which is part of the omekase). I failed to snap a pic, but it was so buttery and amazing. It just melts in your mouth.  I do like Big Burrito Restaurant Group, but Umi is a special shining star in the bunch.

Umi on Urbanspoon

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Ramen Lunch for a Dreary Day .@FukudaPgh .@PghRestaurantWk

I have a ton of posts waiting in the hopper, but decided to go with this one first, because it is Pittsburgh Restaurant Week right now, and I want to encourage yinz to try something new! Fukuda is a new sushi joint in Bloomfield, and it prides itself on fresh, inventive and authentic dishes. I’ve been wanting to try their sushi, but haven’t gotten a chance. Today I happened to have the very unusual opportunity to actually get lunch with my husband. I saw a mention of Ramen pop up in my facebook feed, and I told him “WE MUST GO THERE.” Mr. Beez particularly likes ramen, and I particularly like food, so it was a good choice.

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Fukuda is very very very small.  There are maybe 10 seats at the sushi bar, and another fourteen or so seats at tables.  This place is tiny.  I’m not sure if Fukuda takes reservations, but if they do, you should make a reso before heading over.  It’s itty bitty, and the restaurant is generating big buzz.  It’s been getting particular attention because it is one of the very few establishments in the city offering a late night menu (that doesn’t also offer smiley cookies).

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This stuff was so good.  This ain’t Oodles o’ Noodles.  The Ramen lunch menu is small. They offer edamame, ramen, miso ramen (vegetarian), and seafood ramen.  You better want ramen if you show up.  We picked the regular ramen.  It had a savory but not-too-salty broth that was rich and filling.  It also had thick chunks of pork belly, ramen (obviously), various vegetables, and a poached egg.  Poached egg is not Mr. Beez’ style, so he ordered it without.  But I thought that the poached egg was a perfect touch.  It (alongside the pork belly) made the soup substantial enough for a satisfying lunch.

Fukuda, along with other 50 other Pittsburgh restaurants are running specials this week for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week.  Go try something new!

Fukuda on Urbanspoon

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Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi in Squirrel Hill

After having tried decadant, amazing sushi from Umi, my tastebuds now only recognize 3 categories when it comes to sushi. Amazing (see: Umi), good enough, and grocery store refrigerator case. There are massive distinctions between each of the 3 categories, however inside each of the 3 categories, I don’t make many differentiations. Sakura falls into the middle category– which is not a bad place to be, mind you. I’d say most of the sushi restaurants I’ve ever visited fall into this category. I’m thinking New Dumpling House, Chaya, Sushi & Roll, etc. They all have decent sushi, perfect to fill a sushi craving, but honestly if given a choice between them, I don’t have strong feelings about one over another.

After reading an enthusiastic review for Sakura online, I decided that a sushi carry out night was in order. I love that Sakura offers online ordering. This may be a strange comment coming from a lawyer since so much of our work is done through phone calls, but I hate being on the phone. It always makes me happy to see online ordering, because that’s one less phone call for me to be miserable over. The downside to online ordering is that it takes twice as long. This is not an issue unique to Sakura. I find consistently that online orders take significantly longer to fulfill (or are overlooked entirely), probably because the staff is up hopping around the restaurant and not surfing the internet. However, if I’m not about to gnaw my arm off in starvation, I’m generally happy to wait a little longer for my order just so that I don’t have to do the dreaded call in.

I ordered a basic sushi combo, containing a couple of rolls, salad, and soup.  Both the quantity and quality were good.  The meal did not stand out as uniquely memorable, but rather nestled comfortably in that middle category of “that’ll do” sushi restaurants.

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Baby Beez loved the salad with ginger dressing.  Yes, she eats salad.  I did not realize this is unusual for a 2 year old until the day Baby Beez was in the hospital and the attending about hit the ceiling because she was AMAZED to see a 2 year old eating salad.  I’d like to take credit for this as some sort of superior parent influence, but we don’t eat salad all that often, and I have no idea how to “teach” a kid to like food other than to just stick it on her high chair tray and see if she’ll eat it.  Honestly I think credit for this goes more to her daycare.  They often give the kids salad with their lunches at the daycare, and I assume that’s where she acquired a taste for it.

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The miso soup was also a big hit with Baby Beez.  Oh, and me too.

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The final verdict on Sakura: Sure I’d get take out from there again, or go there for dinner.  I doubt I’ll find myself doubled over with a craving that only Sakura’s sushi will satisfy, but if Sakura is the dining option for the evening, sure I am game.

I am loving all the new and different Asian restaurants opening in Squirrel Hill.  A Ramen shop is opening soon on Forbes, and a Vietnamese cafe is slated to open on Murray.  Bubble Pi and Sumi’s Cakery are respectively Chinese and Korean bakeries that have each opened in Squirrel Hill in recent memory, both of which I’ve been meaning to try.  The new diversity of cuisine in this small commercial district is making me happy and hungry!  So who’s up for noodles and cakes?
Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Food Truck Fridays! #FoodTruckFriday

It’s FRIDAY in Pittsburgh, and that means it is time for FOOD TRUCKS! Bar Marco in the Strip generously hosts Food Truck Fridays in its parking lot, to demonstrate that food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants can live together in harmony.

Mr. Beez, our friend David, and I ventured to the Strip to partake in the festivities last week.  The weather was gorgeous, and the food delicious.

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In a horse-before-cart type maneuver, Fukuda sold grilled seafood delicacies, even though their restaurant has not yet opened.  We tried an order of the octopus balls (on the grill on the right), which were kind of like crabcakes except with octopus.  I liked that chewy pieces of octopus were distinct and flavorful. 

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We were not shy.  On our table you can see grilled cheese WITH CHEESE DIPPING SAUCE (whut?!) from Oh My Grill,  the aforementioned octopus balls with fancy toppings from Fukuda, and an om nom nom so good banh mi from Lucy.  Yes, I know I can buy a banh mi from Lucy pretty much whenever, but those sandwiches are so good that I CANNOT pass one up.  Bonus– instead of trekking to the very crowded Strip for a banh mi on the weekend, parking is way easier on a Friday afternoon.

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This lovely morsel is the Bar Marco burger, in this picture sliced in half.  It’s topped with grilled onions and is all kinds of amazing.  I packed a lunch for work today, but looking at this picture I am very very tempted to haul myself down to the strip to get one of these for lunch instead.

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FRIENDS! I encourage you to support our local food trucks! I also encourage you to get a delicious cheap meal! So haul your backsides down to the Strip this afternoon, and get your lunch on!