A couple of years ago I dined at the uber hip restaurant Soba Lounge. However, I wasn’t feeling the greatest that night and the memory I had of my meal there wasn’t the best or the most vivid so I realized a return trip back was long overdue. Last month I finally returned and let me just say it was phenomenal.
Soba Lounge is part of the Big Burrito Restaurant Group whose collection includes five other restaurants including Kaya (you can read my review of my brunch meal by clicking here). While I bemoan the fact that Pittsburgh has very few “classy” ethnic restaurants, Soba is one of the few, even if people in this city can’t dress up to save their life. But back to the food. Soba offers Pan-Asian cuisine, something I love (Thai, Korean, Japanese offerings all together? My kind of place).
It’s located in the city’s Shadyside neighborhood which is rich on historical ambiance but somewhat tricky for driving as its gorgeous Victorian homes evoke images of a time when walking and horse drawn carriages were more the norm (i.e. not gas guzzling SUVs). Thankfully, they do offer complimentary valet parking now which is great since sometimes it can be a tad difficult to find a spot close to your destination.
On our previous visit we sat in the “basement” (a very glamorous basement if you will), but on our most recent dining experience, we were on the second floor. The look is what gives it the uber designation-dark colored walls complete with minimalist decor-a smattering of East Asian artifacts like the head of Buddha for starters, along with prints of tigers. It’s very “un-Pittsburgh” which is one of the reasons why I loved it so.
To start, we split orders of the edamamae ($8) and Korean barbecue ribs that were topped with Korean barbecue sauce ($12). There’s not much to say on soybeans (they’re healthy and addictingly good), but the ribs were superb. The meat literally fell off the bones. And unlike other Korean dishes, Korean barbecue is not a “spicy affair;” rather, it just has a nice kick to it.
For my entree I went with the Dolsot Bi Bim Bap ($24), another Korean dish. Bi bim bap is one of Korea’s most well known dishes, although I have to say the version offered at Soba Lounge put anything I had had in the past to shame (it was probably more fusion and less authentically Korean but I still enjoyed it immensely). It consisted of beef tenderloin, poached egg, pickled shiitake, kimchi, mung bean sprouts, nori, and gochujang (a Korean condiment). And unlike the Korean ribs, the bi bim bap WAS spicy.
D ordered the Korean Fried Chicken ($22) which was not on the menu on our earlier visit. It came with wasabi mashed potatoes, pickled kale, and gochujang. For someone who loves any form of fried chicken, his dish was met with wholehearted approval.
And because it was Soba I of course opted for dessert, ordering what is probably one of the neatest culinary creations I have ever had-chocolate maki (sushi). We got five rolls in total and each morsel was akin to biting into a pillow of soft chocolate richness.
Dining at Soba is a real treat and it’s definitely the type of place to go when you just want to indulge or celebrate a special occasion. Eating classy Asian cuisine in a lush ambiance always has the makings of a good time.
5847 Ellsworth Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA. | 15232