Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on November 22, 2023.
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Wholey's in the Strip District is a feast for the senses in every corner of the store. Whether you're in the seafood section, meat department, or simply checking out the produce this one certainly has a lot to look over. Naturally, we walk through this one just about every time we are in the neighborhood.
But one of our favorite parts of Wholey's is the very first thing you see when walking in- Andy's Sushi Bar.
This staple sushi bar not only serves up some of the finest sushi in Pittsburgh, but is manned by one of the nicest guys you'll meet. So while you'll be visiting this one because of its sushi, you'll be returning, in part, because of Andy himself.
Andy's Serves Up Stellar Sushi in Wholey's
When ordering sushi for a review, we always default to a standard- order as much as we can feasibly eat in a single sitting. Our order at Andy's did not disappoint on that front.
Much like many sushi spots, Andy's menu consists of nigiri, maki (rolls), and sashimi platters.
In normal circumstances, I order a bit of everything. But for this visit, I was drawn to the maki as there were simply far too many I wanted to try to look at any of the other categories (don't worry, we'll be back). The four rolls we ordered were the Spider Roll, Andy's Special Roll, the Strip District Roll, and a special of Salmon with Mango.
Before we talk about each roll individually, the first thing we noticed beyond the size of these beauties is that the fish tastes fresh. There is a difference between simply good sushi that has decent flavor and excellent sushi where you can tell that the fish is at its very best. That is not to say the former is bad, but just that the freshness of the fish will jump out at you at Andy's. This should be no surprise since the stand is, quite literally, inside the seafood department of one of the city's top grocers- we just have to call it out all the same.
As with most shops we visit, we always have to get the namesake and Andy's Special Roll was that. This one featured tuna, wrapped seaweed, salmon, caviar, and avocado. Flavorwise it was much like a traditional sushi roll, but is wrapped in a unique way that the two main fish cuts were distinctly separated by the rice- almost like a roll within a roll. A nice surprise, and a mouthful at the same time.
The Strip District roll features eel and salmon skin as well as cucumber, scallion, and teriyaki sauce. It is deeply umami and intensely flavored from the fish, but we do have to admit that you may have to have a special love of eel to order this one as it is probably the most out-there of our bunch.
The Spider Roll here was an interesting one because it contained small pieces of fried spider crab as well as straight crab meat along with it. If you have ever ordered this kind of roll and got one with legs sticking out of the sides and found that offputting, this is a great example of a roll doing it right without going over-the-top on the presentation. Just a nice crunch from the fried spider crab and a powerful crab flavor overall. Would we have liked a bit more crispy batter on the fried part? Perhaps a bit, but it is also hard to beat the dueling crab in this one.
Finally, we have the special- Salmon with Mango. Now, I didn't know any better before ordering this one and assumed it would likely include slices of fresh mango along with salmon. Well, I thought wrong. In fact, this was a more traditional salmon roll topped with a pureed mango sauce on top that had a sweet and tangy balance that worked quite beautifully with the fish. It will be hard to not want this one every time it is available because of that sauce alone. To put it simply, I don't think I've ever had a roll quite like this one and that is truly impressive.
As for the size of the rolls, well, four was definitely the limit for the two of us. For a nice sized lunch, three of these rolls would likely leave a couple stuffed. For solo visitors, one roll plus a few nigiri could make for a nice lunch.
Advanced Orders May Be Recommended
Now that we've gushed about the food, there is one aspect of Andy's Sushi Bar that we need to highlight- it is a one-man operation.
This is one of the reasons why we love it so much because Andy is such a likable guy and treats every customer like they've been regulars for years. But in being a crew of one, depending on when you visit there may be a wait for your order to be prepared.
When I visited for this particular order, there was not a line at the counter when I arrived, but I was informed it would be a 15-20 minute wait as orders were placed ahead of mine. This was, to me, a non-issue. I assumed this would happen and had a shopping list with me that I went and filled at other stores nearby to pass the time.
But when I returned, Andy apologized for the wait and highly recommended to call in my order next visit to save time As such, if you are visiting this one during busy periods, especially if you were to pick up lunch on a workday, calling an order in ahead of time may help out.
My intention of highlighting this is not a negative in the slightest. Andy's Sushi Bar is worth the wait. Any wait, really. I would've hung out in the Strip District for an hour if I had to and would've done so with a smile on my face. But the fact that you can call in an order as opposed to having to walk in could be a game-changer for some who may not otherwise visit and is worth highlighting all the same.
So, when will you be visiting?
Andy's Sushi Bar is located just inside Wholey's at 1711 Penn Avenue in the Strip District. His phone number at the time of publishing for orders is 412-281-8272.
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