Asian Restaurant Options Abound in Oakland

A fruit and nut salad, mesquite turkey sandwich and “Sunrise Suzy” from Red Oak Cafe.

A fruit and nut salad, mesquite turkey sandwich and “Sunrise Suzy” from Red Oak Cafe.

words: Nina Saluga

photos: Nina Saluga

Pittsburgh’s rising “foodie” status is not lost upon the Oakland neighborhood. Restaurants are diverse and ever-evolving with the latest crazes, from bubble tea to sushi bowls. Be it Forbes Avenue or South Craig Street, foodies can eat their way through Oakland’s buffet of trendy cafes and authentic ethnic eateries. There’s something for everyone to discover — and hopefully share with newbies to the scene. Take a look at five Asian-style restaurants foodies in the neighborhood won’t want to miss.

Rose Tea Cafe

Rose Tea Cafe is a funky, modest eatery on South Craig Street that specializes in Taiwanese cuisine. The restaurant itself is low-key, but the fare is some of the most authentic Taiwanese food found in the city. The menu covers an extensive assortment of Taiwanese dishes with the restaurant’s own unique flair. Vegetarians can get their fix with the zesty and flavorful broccoli with garlic sauce, while thrill seekers can try the Mala beef, a spicy beef dish served chilled. The restaurant’s salt and pepper chicken is a fan favorite as well. For more adventurous palates, be sure to check out the extensive assortment of trendy bubble or milk teas.

Sushi Fuku

Sushi Fuku is a must for anyone looking to experience the evolution of a Japanese tradition. Sushi Fuku is a neighborhood favorite, known for revolutionizing the way customers experience sushi. The restaurant is fast-casual, and what’s unique about it is that customers craft their own creation. Patrons start by choosing a protein or two — raw, cooked and tempura options are available daily — and then decide from plenty of options to put inside, like avocado, cream cheese, kimchi or mango. Dress it up with wasabi mayo, teriyaki sauce or another one the house offers. Guests can choose to either “roll it” the traditional Japanese way, or “bowl it” into a concoction that can be eaten with a fork. Sushi Fuku is Oakland’s restaurant scene at its most innovative.

Red Oak Cafe

Red Oak Cafe is a health-conscious pick for those with a penchant for green juices, egg whites and early morning runs in the neighborhood. The cafe is a cozy-looking hangout that offers a hearty selection of soups, salads, sandwiches and breakfast options, as well as a fresh juice bar.

Try a breakfast sandwich with an Oakland namesake, like the Mary Schenley, or an egg scrambler called Oakland with chorizo, egg and Pico de Gallo. Although Red Oak Cafe specializes in vegetarian fare, there are plenty of meat options available, like the buffalo chicken wrap or the hot Shakespeare, an egg sandwich towering with ham, red and banana peppers and pepper jack cheese. So stop in for one, because breakfast is served all day long.

Oishii Bento

Oishii Bento is a casual dive off of Atwood Street that specializes in Japanese and Korean fare. Oishii Bento is a healthy alternative to other ethnic eateries that offers authentic bento boxes and bowls, as well as sushi and tea. The restaurant, which calls itself “the yummy lunchbox,” uses only the highest quality ingredients and offers authentic Japanese bento boxes filled with pork, beef, chicken, tofu, seafood or vegetables. It also features bento bowls, udon noodles and hand rolled sushi. Oishii has a hole-in-the-wall feel; its downstairs is devoted to takeout while the upstairs is a shabby-chic dine-in area where guests enjoy a view that spans Atwood Street.

Lulu’s Noodles

Lulu’s Noodles is a funky little spot on South Craig that puts an American twist on traditional Asian noodle dishes. The restaurant is a casual spot that offers Asian-inspired dishes like pad Thai, barbecue pork and a wide selection of popular bubble teas. The restaurant has a warehouse-like feel, with high ceilings and an open dining area that offers foodies an eclectic visual experience. The restaurant prides itself on fresh Asian cooking and its huge portion sizes. A typical noodle dish fills the plate with fresh vegetables and poultry, beef or seafood and is served on a plate almost the size of a flying saucer.