I’ll always have my perennial favorite Korean food spots here in Pittsburgh, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like trying out new ones when the opportunity arises. Such was the case with Soju, a brand new eatery located in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood. And if you’re wondering about the name, soju is Korea’s national spirit, a clear, colorless distilled beverage.
According to a Pittsburgh Post Gazette article I read (which is how I first learned of Soju), it took six years for the restaurateur to open it. The bulk of that time was spent rehabbing the building. It was formerly a bar with apartments above it, but from the outside it’s extremely nondescript; it looks like a an old-time storefront. The inside is decidedly modern and refreshing.
It’s a rather small venue and they don’t take reservations. As is my MO when reservations are not accepted, I just get there relatively early and never have to wait. Unlike a lot of small, ethnic eateries, Soju does have a liquor license and had some tasty sounding cocktails to choose from. I opted for the Soju cocktail which consisted of soju, watermelon (always a personal favorite of mine), lime, mint, and soda. It was so tasty and so refreshing. D opted for one of the draft beer selections. And yes, post meal we did shots of soju (goes down surprisingly easy, but then catches up with you).
We opted for two appetizers, since they both sounded good and I didn’t want to have to choose. D always had interest in the Nori French Fries ($5) which consisted of fresh-cut fries served with seaweed seasoning and ketchup. These were good and were a huge portion, but they were still just fries (which is the main reason I wanted a more authentic appetizer).
My selection was the Mandu ($6), which are Korean-style dumplings and something I adore. These were sautéed and came with your choice of kimchee (vegetarian option) or pork. We went with the latter.
For my entree I ordered the Bulgogi ($18) which is essentially grilled Korean style BBQ beef tenderloin and came with rice and bantan (the latter refers to Korean side dishes). It wasn’t spicy at all (Korean food can be prepared with a lot of spice to it) but that suited me just fine.
D selected a platter option which enabled him to try the bulgogi, kalbi (Korean style BBQ short ribs), and the dwaejibulgogi (Korean BBQ pork tenderloin). His meal also came with rice and bantan.
I absolutely adored our meal here and definitely look forward to returning again in the future. Service, food, and drinks were all great, everything you want in a memorable dining out.
4923 Penn Avenue