Thursday, December 22, 2011

China Star in the North Hills area

I tried China Star for the first time. My last job was close to the restaurant, but I never had the opportunity to go. Now that I've been there, I fully regret not going there during my last job. The Szechuan cuisine was amazing, and I got to try ox tongue. Check out the video.

China Star on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All in Good Taste Productions

This past friday, my company had their annual Christmas party. Most years they would have it at a restaurant. But this year our president decided to have the party at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. He said he wanted to do something different because he wanted all of us to have an interactive experience at the Glass Center. It was a great idea because I was able to make a kickass glass ornament(Black and Gold of course), and have some great food. All in Good Taste Productions catered that night, and the food was amazing. Below is some of the food that I had.

This is the Petite Winter Salad of Watercress and Shaved Fennel, Dijon Vinaigrette
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Sauce Vert. The Watercress gives the dish a nice bright color to it. Sauce vert is a French sauce of mayonnaise that has some crème fraîche and herbs. It gave the crab cake a nice savory kick to it.

This is the Petite Lobster Raviolis, Sauce Americane, Lobster Claw, Braised Fennel with Julienned Snowpeas. Again it was very good. I was tempted to play with my lobster claw, but I'd be getting awkward looks from people. I'll save it for another time if I eat those again.

This is the Roasted Herb Crusted Domestic Lamb Chop, Demi Glace, Celery Root Puree, Sauteed Brussels Sprouts. I thought the lamb chops I made not too long ago were the best. This proved me wrong especially since they cooked it perfectly(medium rare).

This is the Gruyere Cheese Souffle, Mornay Sauce, Marinated French Green Lentils, Caramelized Carrot. I didn't try it, but my friend Katy said it was pretty good.

All in all it was a great experience and great food. I'll leave you guys pictures of me making glass(no dirty thoughts please though now I really know what the side feels)

Website: All in Good Taste Productions

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lidia's Pittsburgh

The day after Thanksgiving, my family and I decided to try Lidia's in the Strip District. Lidia's is an Italian restaurant owned by Lidia Bastianich, who is a well known restauranteur and chef. She owns several restaurants in the U.S., but each restaurant has its own distinct flair to them though there is a Lidia's in Kansas City.

One of the most unique aspects of her restaurant is that while you wait for a table, you can check out and read her cookbooks. Reading her cookbooks just makes you can't wait to eat her food even more. I thought about just taking a picture of her recipes using my camera, but the staff would not like that and I think Lidia would probably ban me from her restaurants for life. I could see that happening.

We get seated, received our drinks, and got some on-the-house bread. I should have asked where the bread came from. But from just tasting it, it was very fresh and I would bet either they made it in house or got them from a local bread company. The spreads that they gave us for the bread were Kalamata olives cannolini beans spread
Hummus basil spread. They were both good on the bread, though I preferred the olive spread a little bit more.

Now on to the appetizers. We ordered Fritto Misto which was fried calamari, shrimp, and vegetables with their tomato marina sauce. The tomato marina sauce was OK. Didn't wow me, but it got the job done at least. I loved the batter for the calamari. It was light and not greasy. The fact there were fried vegetables balanced the fishiness of the appetizer.

Now the main course. I ordered the Stinco d’Agnello Brasato(Lamb Shank Braised in Venetian Spices, Sweet Potato Hash, Oven Roasted Vegetables). The lamb shank was huge thus I could only eat half of it. But the meat was very tender came easily off the bone. I was eating like a king at this point. However, my favorite part of the dish was the sweet potato hash. It was my first time having it, and I got to say it tasted like sweet potatoes in mashed form. It was also good compliment to the lamb shank and the venetian spices from the shank made the potatoes taste even better. Regular mashed potatoes, sorry we are going to have to part ways.

All in all, we had a good experience eating at Lidia's. The service and the food were excellent. If there is any Italian restaurant I would recommend in the city(besides Piccolo Forno), this would be one of them. Expect to pay a lot for dinner, but it's worth it after taking that first bite.

Lidia's Pittsburgh on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011


A few weeks ago, I went to NOLA on the SQUARE at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh. The food was very good(check out what I thought about the fried alligator bites), and I got an opportunity to talk to the manager and chef about NOLA. Unfortunately, Lenny the chef wasn't able to participate in the video, but I was able to still interview him for a little bit.

1. He has been at NOLA since March of 2011 and he played a big part in what the menu should be.
2. He spent 5 years at New Orleans working at Arnaud's.
3. He said that the best part of working at NOLA is the culinary freedom, daily features, and most of the produce is local.

From just talking to Lenny, he has such a passion for cooking and you could clearly see that when you eat the food at NOLA.

NOLA on the square on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Benkovitz Seafoods

I recently started a new job in the Strip District area. I've only been at my new company for a month, but I've probably went out to eat roughly around eight times already. When you work at the Strip District, you have to take advantage of your surroundings. From eating beef tongue tacos at Reyna's to eating bacon feta haluski at S & D Polish Deli, you have so many types of foods you can try. Heck you can even buy bread, meat, and cheese at Penn Mac and that could be your lunch for a week.

But today, I'll be giving my thoughts to the world about Benkovitz Seafoods which is two blocks from my office. It's unfortunate that they aren't in the main part of the Strip District(Penn Ave.) because they could have a lot more customers, but when I went inside this past Tuesday(first time by the way) they still had a decent amount of people in there. Benkovitz sells seafood from their market and you can also order lunch there as well. I was not in the mood for anything fried, so I ended up ordering a salmon salad sandwich at the deli area. As I was waiting, I struck up a conversation with the cashier(who was really the manager) who was also making my sandwich. I can sense there was some chemistry going on between us. It worked out well in that she ended up giving me complimentary cole slaw because she said she was in a happy mood. She is probably going to blush when she reads this, but hey I got to be an honest blogger. So I take my lunch back to my office, and it was pretty damn good. The cole slaw was excellent(I've never had bad cole slaw as far I can remember), and the salmon salad sandwich was good. The sandwich was very filling, cold, and tasty.

On friday, I decided to go back for Benkovitz again for lunch and this time armed with my camera phone. I saw that they had a special on catfish sandwich plus jalapeno hush puppies. This was a no brainer, and I ended up ordering the meal. The first batch of the hush puppies, it wasn't cooked in the middle. They ended up cooking me a new batch for me. Not every restaurant is perfect, but I was glad that Benkovitz did something about it. Good customer service at its best. The second batch definitely was a lot better. It's crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. You can feel the heat anytime you take a bite. The catfish sandwich just really contained catfish and the bread. There was no lettuce tomatoes or onions. I was bit disappointed about that. Being that it was pretty plain, I put on liberal amounts of cocktail sauce and tartar sauce on the catfish. It definitely gave the sandwich a nice kick to it. The catfish was deeply fried, but there was certainly a lot meat in it. I've never had grilled catfish, and probably never will. Catfish too me always has to be fried.

So all in all, I had a good experience during my two trips to Benkovitz. The only suggestion I would make is to include lettuce tomatoes and onions for the sandwich. Benkovitz also sometimes have free samples. They had crab and shrimp dip as samples on Friday. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of them, but they were good especially the shrimp dip.

Benkovitz Seafoods on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lamb Chops with Tahini Sauce

I've never cooked Lamb Chops before, but I thought it turned out well. The Tahini sauce makes it happen. I still have a lot of Tahini left and looking forward to creating more dishes that feature Tahini.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dormont Food Tour Experience

This past Saturday, I got an opportunity to take part in a food blog tour organized by Burgh, Bits, and Bites. The idea of these food tours is to explore the history and experience good food at various neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Cory, who was our tour guide, gave we food bloggers a tour of Dormont. Before this tour, I never really thought of Dormont as a significant cultural or culinary destination. In fact the only time I ever ate at the area was when I took my ex-girlfriend to Eat'N Park on the main road and that was 4 years ago. I do like Eat'N Park, but after going through the tour I certainly now have more options. I won't mention everything about the tour, but will give you guys a few highlights.

If you are male attending any of the food tours, I just skipping out on getting the free grocery bag from Burgh, Bits, and Bites. Don't get me wrong, it's great for grocery shopping if you're a female. Having to carry that around during the tour is uncomfortable and makes me less of a man. Fortunately, I was able to get to my car during the tour and put the bag away. Crisis averted.

First highlight of tour was stopping at Dormont Dogs. It's a local hot dog eatery that serves 100 percent beef dogs. They also serve veggie dogs as well. I ended up sampling the Texas Ave. Dog, which has chili sauce, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and Fritos. The hot dog was pretty good, and having the Fritos in there adds an extra crunch to it. I also like the fact that the hot dog buns came from Potomac Bakery. Local places helping each other out. Can't go wrong with that.

Another highlight of the tour was going to Fredo's Market. Fredo's sells food from all over Europe. You can also order food to eat in or to go. The owners of Fredo's had us sample their spinach and feta swirl. It had a light airy taste to it and you could equally taste the spinach and feta. Also Sadik, whose wife owns the market, gave us his life story how he escaped from war-torn Yugoslavia in the 90's and came to the United States. It's refreshing to hear someone who has been throughout that ordeal and made a good life out of himself and his family in the states.

The last highlight I'll mention is our stop to Sugar Cafe. Sugar Cafe are known for their homemade pastries and deserts. Of all the deserts I could sample, I chose the one with the most alcohol of course which was the Irish Car Bomb cupcake. Kelly James, who owns the cafe, said that the cupcake contains Guinness Stout chocolate cake that is soaked in a light whiskey syrup and butter cream which is Bailey's Irish cream. I love how you can taste the alcohol and the decadence from the cupcake. Definitely a cupcake and alcohol lover's dream.

All in all, I would rate the tour 9.5 out of 10 only because I didn't like the grocery bags. Okay, I'm being a jerk. I'll give it a 9.7 out of 10. Happy now, blog readers? If I was a female, it would have been 10 out of 10. I would like to thank Cory for giving us the guided tour of Dormont. You could clearly see that Cory has a passion for food and culture. He is not originally from Pittsburgh, but he certainly knows more about the city than I do. Because of this tour, now I have a better understanding of the Dormont neighborhood and now have more food options next time I go to Dormont.

I also want to give mad props to my friend Dave who helped me with this project by being my camera guy.

Related Links:
Burgh Bits and Bites
Culinary Cory
Sugar Cafe
Fredo's Market/Deli
Diamond Goat Media, my friend Dave's website

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making Potato Salad

I made Potato Salad a few weekends ago for tailgating at the Pitt-Utah college football game. This video will show you how to make it, along with bonus scenes of my friends and I tailgating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

East Liberty Farmer's Market

Shot some video of the East Liberty Farmer's Market. I even interviewed Margaret Schlass of One Woman Farm. My interviewing skills need work, but it will get there in time.

I also ate a raspberry chipotle chicken sausage from Chef DJ's Sausage and Catering Co. I would recommend trying it and it's homemade.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

La Feria in the Shadyside area

Went to a Peruvian restaurant for the first time ever called La Feria. Also the video has a new intro :). Lastly, there are some risque parts in the end of the video. So don't let your little kids watch it.

La Feria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sumo Ramen in Montreal

In the middle of my road trip in Canada, I decided to stay in Montreal for a few days. One of the most fascinating things about going to a big cities such as Montreal is what there Chinatown looked like. Unfortunately Montreal's Chinatown was quite disappointing compared to cities such as New York City and Philadelphia.

1. It was only a couple blocks.
2. Believe it or not, there were only a few Chinese restaurants I saw. Most of them were Vietnamese.

Despite my disappointment, I found a unique looking restaurant called Sumo Ramen and I decided to check it out. With the name, you'll obviously know it's primarily a ramen restaurant, but you can also get your soups with udon as well.

Since it was just after 11:00 AM, the place wasn't exactly bustling yet, but more people came when noon time arrived. As far as the atmosphere goes, it's pretty relaxing and comfortable with the orange walls being a good complement to every party of the restaurant. The music is too trendy, but didn't change my views of the restaurant of course. I thought they kind of over did it, putting the pictures of there food on the wall since it's all on the menu anyways.

For the appetizer, I ordered the skewered squid balls. Anything in ball form, I must eat just like how Anthony Bourdain has to eat anything in tube form. They were succulent, not rubbery. They were also fried but fortunately not deep friend. The waiter told me that they combined the fish paste and the squid to make the balls. It was so good, that I'm going to make my own some time.

For the main course, I decided to order the Shrimp Dumpling Udon. I know I should have gotten it with the homemade ramen, but I hadn't had udon on in awhile and had a craving for it. The soup also had bean sprouts, sliced agaric, green onions, hard boiled, egg and seaweed. The soup base was soya, which is brown colored. The soup was very good. The dumplings held the shrimp well, and of course tasty. The other ingredients complemented the soup very well, and it was nice to have seaweed in there since I don't eat it too often. The soup was salty, but it had the right amount of it for me.

Overall, I would recommend Sumo Ramen. Even though Chinatown as a whole was a disappointment, at least the food was excellent and at the end of the day, that's all you can really ask for. I think someone in Pittsburgh needs to open up a ramen restaurant :).

Sumo Ramen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Audubon North in Buffalo New York

As some of you guys know, I recently completed a road trip to Canada and back. I wanted to do this because I hadn't had a long vacation in a long time, and I hadn't been in Canada in almost 20 years and wanted to check it out. I know some of you think that Canada is a lot like the U.S., and it many ways it's true. But in a lot of ways it is different. Since this is a food blog, we won't talk about this for the most part. However, I did go to quite a few restaurants during my trip, and I'll be reviewing a few them. We will start out with Audubon North in Buffalo New York.

My first night of my road trip, I stopped at Buffalo, New York and stayed with my couchsurfing hosts. Couchsurfing essentially means you stay at a host's house at the city you are at for traveling. If you guys want to learn more, go to the couchsurfing website(Couchsurfing). It's not for everyone, but at least you'll have a pretty good idea of what it is all about. Anyways back to the food. My hosts took me to a dive bar called Audubon North near where they live. If I had to describe the place, it's the epitome of what pretty much what a dive bar is. One of the first things I noticed is that they use an old school jukebox where one song costs 25 cents. I can't even remember the last time I payed a quarter to play a song on the jukebox in Pittsburgh. Second I noticed that there were baby shower decorations on the ceiling fan near our table. I guess the people that work there aren't in a rush to remove those decorations. Thirdly, some random girl at the bar asked my hosts and I this question, "When someone says unit, what is the first thing that comes to mind?". I told her the answer(No need to say what it is since this is a g-rated site), and she was happy that I said that because it was the answer she was expecting. So all-in-all, when you come to this bar expect an unique experience that you will never forget.

Finally we can now talk about the food. My hosts recommended me the chicken fingers, which are homemade. So I ordered the 2 chicken fingers, and 2 pierogies meal. The chicken fingers were breaded with hot sauce being poured on it liberally. This was definitely one of the better chicken fingers I've had. The fingers were crispy and the meat was juicy, not dry. The hot sauce surely made the fingers even better. You could definitely feel the heat in your mouth. The pierogies on the other hand were a mixed bag. I thought the skin was cooked perfectly, however the potatoes inside were chunky about 70 percent mashed, and 30 percent chunky. The chunkiness of the potatoes did not work well with the skin, and it really brought the meal down considerably. I'm hoping the kitchen just had an off night.

Overall I enjoyed the unique atmosphere and the food for the most part. I would recommend people visiting Buffalo to come here for the experience and the chicken. It may not be as famous as Duff's or the Anchor Bar, but it's a place worth visiting.

Audubon North on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Burgatory Bar in Aspinwall/Fox Chapel Area

Checked out a burger joint called Burgatory Bar. Definitely a place worth visiting. FYI, the avocado wasabi is awesome. I mention it quite a bit in the video :).

Burgatory Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cooking up some Asian Pork

Last saturday, I saw a recipe on called Ginger Pork and decided to make it. I decided to change up a few things on the recipe. For one I used vegetable oil instead of peanut oil because I already had the vegetable oil and didn't want to buy peanut oil. Also, I doubled the amount for the ingredients associated with the sauce. Hey I'm a sauce fan and I can't help it :). However with that said, I should have doubled the amount for the rest of the ingredients especially cinnamon(I didn't have ginger). The dish turned out well, but I could barely taste the cinnamon. Despite that, the sauce did make the pork flavorful along with the rice. It also helped that I kept the fatty parts in too to bring more flavor to the dish.

The link to the recipe is here:
Ginger Pork.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update on Hong Kong Taste in Etna

Last night, I ordered take out from Hong Kong Taste, which was one of the restaurants I recently reviewed. I was disappointed to find out that they no longer sell sushi or any kind of Japanese cuisine. The person behind the counter told me that not enough people were interested in eating Japanese food in the Etna area. So all in all, I guess Etna isn't ready for sushi just yet. It's too bad too because their sushi was actually really good and fresh. I will certainly miss it :(.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Conflict Kitchen in East Liberty

Checked out a takeout restaurant called Conflict Kitchen in East Liberty. It features food from different countries that the U.S. is currently having conflicts with.

Conflict Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Flicker account

I created a new flicker account under PittsburghFoodScene. I'm pretty going to post pictures from various restaurants, my home cooking, farmer's markets, etc. Not all pictures will be related to the video blogs that I do. Enjoy :)

PittsburghFoodScene Flicker

I also have the photostream on top of my page.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Road Trip to Frederick Part 2(Laila's Kitchen)

On my way to Frederick for my friend's rehearsal, I did a video blog on Laila's Kitchen, an Afghani restaurant in the heart of downtown Hagerstown. Check it out.

Laila's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Road trip to Frederick Maryland Part 1(Black Hog BBQ and Bar)

My friend Joe got married this past weekend in Frederick Maryland. Besides being involved in the wedding and reuniting with Joe's family and our mutual friends, I had the opportunity to try out some different restaurants during my stay.

Yesterday, after the guys only morning whiffleball game, we all decided to get some BBQ at a place called Black Hog BBQ and Bar in downtown Frederick. I did not bring my video camera, but did get some good pictures. It's not a big restaurant so seats can be limited, but they also have takeout. I had a good feeling about the place because when we walked in, almost all the tables were full and we had to split our group of 9 to two separate tables. I like going to restaurants that are nearly full or full because you know that it's a popular place, and most likely you'll be impressed with the food even it may take awhile to get. As the name suggests, they serve BBQ. They serve BBQ plates, ribs, chicken, wings, and even burgers.

I ended up getting the two meat plates with a side dish and corn bread. The two meats I got were the BBQ Pork Shoulder and smoked sausage. The side dish I got was the potato salad. The potato salad was actually decent and better than most potato salads you would eat at picnics. The potatoes tasted soft and fluffy, and it was one of the creamier potato salads I've had. The smoked sausage wasn't exceptional, but it was cooked well and I liked it. The BBQ pork shoulder on the other hand was pretty awesome. It was tender and moist, and the bbq sauce(which they make themselves) enhanced the meat to another level. You can even have the option of putting other sauces into your dish. Speaking of sauces, I didn't like the fact that they had HFCS(High Fructose Corn Syrup) in them when I checked the ingredient list in one of the sauce bottles. It's more or less a personal preference. I'm not sure if the table or kitchen sauces are homemade or not.

All in all I enjoyed my experience at Black Hog, and would come back again in the future even if I'm picky about the sauce's ingredients. I will leave you guys with these two pictures below from the restaurant. It's nice that Black Hog educates their customer about the meat they are eating and what part of the animal's body it comes from.

Black Hog BBQ
Facebook Page

Black Hog BBQ Bar on Urbanspoon
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