Monday, February 21, 2011

Yokoso Japanese Steak House

153 E. Bridge St.
Homestead, PA 15120

Stacy and I went to the Waterfront for our Friday dinner date. Initially, we were thinking P.F. Chang’s. “Ummm, it’ll be about a two hour wait” says the peppy hostess. Eff that. Next stop, Rock Bottom. “Hmm, it’ll be about an eight day wait. Do you want me to put your name down?” No. Next, Gran Agave. “How about you try again sometime in July.” Then, from the heavens, a light shines on Yokoso. “We can seat you right now.” Hibachi it is.

Now, when I think Hibachi, I think bursting flames that singe your eyebrows, shrimp flying through the air like a circus act, stacks and stacks of vegetables that leave you immobile after consumption, hilarious Hibachi chefs that are comedians during their day jobs. The general ambiance created a great initial impression. Then our chef came. Felipe was his name.

We were prepared for high-flying seafood acrobatics, but it never came. Not a single shrimp tossed at my face, not a single onion volcano, not a single joke from Felipe about how Americans are morons. The food was decent, but could have easily been cooked at home. The service was excellent minus Felipe’s nonchalant attitude towards Hibachi.

Maybe Felipe just had an off night. Even Jordan never had a perfect game. If you’re looking for crazy Hibachi, unfortunately I just can’t recommend Yokoso. It’s good, just not the best.


Yokoso Japanese Steak House on Urbanspoon

Pho Minh

4917 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

We went to this place on Saturday for lunch. I was starving, no surprise there. So we thought we would try something new. We heard of this place through word-of-mouth, but would have never known it existed otherwise. They do not advertise, nor does there storefront shout “COME EAT HERE!” Nonetheless, I have never eaten Vietnamese and this place was apparently some of the best.

We were greeted by the extremely nice 3’-2” Vietnamese owners who appeared as though they possess some ridiculous Kung Fu skills but only use them on unruly Americans. We kept our composure and were seated. The place is tiny. With the exception of a few Vietnamese pieces on the walls, the decorations are neutral. Very simple but nice.

Stacy recommended I get the chicken Pho. I had no idea what chicken Pho meant but chicken, Pho, how could one resist? The dish came out within ten minutes in a bowl the size of Heinz Field. As the aromas wafted the room, I checked out this so-called chicken Pho. Broth, noodles, bean sprouts, chicken, cilantro, so on and so forth.

Stacy dowsed hers in Sriracha hot sauce and dug in like a pro. I followed suit. Little did I know that the Sriracha hot sauce makes a pansy like me cry like a schoolgirl. I toughed it out.

As the meal progressed, we glanced at the table to our left which was full of Vietnamese teenagers. You know the feeling you get when a group of teenagers speaking a foreign language look at you then laugh, like you are doing something completely idiotic? Yea, that happened. Maybe it was because the Sriracha made the mucus and tears flow freely, or maybe it was because we were eating broth soup with chopsticks. After the teenyboppers had their fun and left, we noticed the owner eat a bowl of Pho. He scooped the broth and noodles into a spoon then ate from the spoon, not the chopsticks. It all made perfect sense.

Minus the minor embarrassment of being an uncultured Westerner,  Pho Minh is delicious. A lot better than Campbell’s chicken noodle soup that’s for sure. The total was $14 plus tip. Not too many Burghers have tried Vietnamese cuisine so give it a shot.


Pho Minh on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Church Brew Works

3525 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Church Brew Works is a fascinating place located in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. The restaurant sits inside the old St. John the Baptist Church which was originally built in 1902. This place is as tough as the steel workers that made Pittsburgh famous, having been through industrial booms, fires, recessions and everything in between into the palatial restaurant it is today.

In 1996 a couple businessmen had the brilliant idea of converting the church into a restaurant that pays homage to Pittsburgh, architecture and, well, beer. The substantial undertaking modernized the structure while remaining true to its history. The original Douglas Fir floors were restored to perfection as well as the ornate stained glass windows that decorate the church’s transepts. Massive arched colonnades open the nave to the altar which, naturally, houses the glass-enclosed beer shrine. This is the best part of it all. Italians enclose their most prized sculptures in glass, we enclose beer. Awesome.

The ambiance gets an A+ in my book, but what about the food? Surprisingly, a multi-paged eclectic menu can please just about every palate. I imagine the choice of the fare was to attract people from all walks of life. Of all the choices, what do we always get? Pizza. They have excellent wood-fired brick oven pizza. The traditional cheese or pepperoni is a sure bet, but get crazy with your selection. You won’t be disappointed.

From the exciting architecture to the great food, Church Brew Works has it all. This is a solid place to meet your friends after a tough day at the office, or get dinner before a night on the town.


Church Brew Works on Urbanspoon