Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sushi, Sushi! We Want More Sushi! - Plum Pan Asian

   Yikes:  The fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce were wonderful but recipe and lovely pictures from my new food photographer will be coming soon. I was not able to get around to the gratin this week as we are travelling. Stay tuned to stories about the famous Benton's Bacon.  In the meantime, I will be blogging next week for Pittsburgh's Restaurant Week.  Six restaurants in five!

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  Each summer while we lived in Europe, Dear Daughter would travel back to the United States and spend several weeks with friends and family.  Each year, she would return and would regale us with stories of her visit to Plum Pan Asian to have sushi.  In the early days, her sushi favorites were pretty benign, Avocado Roll, Cucumber Roll, California Roll.  However, last year she proudly boasted that her Uncle had convinced her to have some tuna sashimi...and she loved it.  Her aunt and uncle gave her the perfect Christmas gift this past December, a gift card to Plum.
     We waited until DD's best friend arrived from Italy, who also likes sushi, to head into the city for lunch and a museum visit.  The menu at Plum is extensive, covering several countries:  Japan, Thailand, China and even Southeast Asia.   Our small group focused mainly on the sushi but we did manage to taste a few other dishes.  
     From the get-go, there is parking in the garage next door - which is a huge plus given its location in East Liberty.  The restaurant, while not large, has a open, modern feel to it.  There is a small bar area which opens up into the dining room.  Massive windows bring in the light and there is a small courtyard area in the front for alfresco dining.  We were greeted by a very friendly front of house, who escorted us to our table.  As it was in the corner, I had high hopes for its intimacy.  However, the height of the tables do not coincide with the height of the chairs so I felt that I was a child needing a high chair.  The distance from myself at one end of the rectangle to DD at the other end was a bit far  so it seemed to impede conversation.  But the main detractor was that the room was quite chilly for our entire group.  We moved outside and as it was a very pleasant day, we were seated at a small round table much more conducive to conversation, or so we thought.  It might have been nice if the chairs had cushions to make them more comfortable but the biggest issue (which was not the fault of the restaurant), was all of the construction noise.  Oh well, I thought.  I am dining with two teenage girls who will not have much conversation with me anyway.
     Dear Daughter loves sushi so her choices were easy.  Since she knew she was using her gift card, I think her choices were a bit on the frugal side as she wanted leftover funds for a return visit.  DD's friend chose Yaki Udon, which were noodles with mushrooms, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots and chicken.  In addition, as she loves sushi and had skipped breakfast (due to sleeping in very late!), she also chose the Sushi Club Roll, which contained among other things, lobster salad, spicy tuna, avocado, crab assembled like a club sandwich with a soy crepe standing in for the bread.  It was an impressive site.  I went with my old standard as I want to judge the quality of the fish - the sashimi lunch, which was an assortment of 12 pieces of sashimi.  For the table, I ordered Hand Rolled Portk Fried Dumplings because, well, because I like them.
     Service was very nice but a bit slow given that the restaurant was not crowded.  We managed through the din of the construction noise to have some conversation while waiting for the appetizer to arrive.  The dumplings were delicious; crispy on one side, delicious pork on the inside and a nice sauce to accompany them.  There was just enough for each of us to have two but I noticed that DD managed to swipe a third one when no one was looking.
     The presentation of the sushi and sashimi was impressive.  The Sushi Club, while on the expensive side, was an ample portion and surprisingly, all the flavors complemented each other quite well.  Dear Daughter quite enjoyed her California roll and her tuna/avocado roll.  To fill her sashimi fix, she did manage to have one piece of my salmon sashimi and one piece of the tuna.

California Roll and Tuna Avocado Roll

Sushi Club Roll
     The portion size for my sashimi lunch was quite surprising.  I normally prefer a thinner cut of sashimi but I appreciated the attention to detail on the plate.  All of the fish was quite fresh.  The only disappointment was the flavor of the tuna sashimi.  It was missing.   I can get sashimi grade tuna at Wholey's and slice my own sashimi and it tastes amazing!  DD's friend loved the noodles and I was amazed that she could eat the entire plate and her sushi club roll.  Oh, to be young!

Yaki Udon

Sashimi Lunch Combo

     Sushi is expensive - there is no denying this; however, good sushi is just so, so good.  We really enjoyed the meal at Plum Pan Asian and due to DD's frugality, she has enough left on her card for a return visit!  Now if I could just get them as excited to visit a museum as they were to have sushi.

Plum Pan Asian Restaurant
5996 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA

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