Last Updated on September 15, 2020 by Angie
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Bae Bae's Kitchen in downtown Pittsburgh fills a much-needed niche in the downtown dining scene: quick, delicious food cooked from scratch with a casual but adorable vibe. This cozy little spot adorned with beautiful plants serves up Korean rice, noodle, and salad bowls with a build-your-own concept.
We'd been intrigued by Bae Bae's Kitchen for a while, and we finally found the time to make it in on a cold, windy, grey January day. As soon as we walked in our spirits were instantly lifted by the cheerful plants, cute decor, and all of the inviting smells.
Bae Bae's Kitchen Serves Up Build-Your-Own Plates
The menu here is pretty simple but there's always specials and sides that change from day to day.
Basically, you choose whether you want a salad, noodles, or rice as your base, then select your protein (beef, chicken, crispy tofu, or a special of the day), and then a side (tempure veggies, kim chi, or a special of the day).
Jeremy opted for the glass noodles with the special (a spicy stir fried chicken) and a side of tempura veggies. I kept it classic with rice, bulgogi (beef), and cabbage kim chi.
The meals were served in takeout boxes, meaning leftovers of the huge portions were readily transported with us.
The meat stir fries had a good measure of veggies mixed in, and that along with side salads made the meals taste fresh and healthy. The spicy chicken did indeed live up to its name (described as a 7 out of 10 to us by the server), and the bulgogi was super tender with a hint of sweetness.
The tempura veggies on the side had a very light, crispy coating, while the side of spicy, funky kim chi awakened our taste buds from their winter slumber.
Don't Forget the Sides
There are also additional rotating sides that are more appetizer sized; for example, on our visit there were pork dumplings and chicken wings.
We are suckers for dumplings from any country's cuisine, and the pork dumplings here were no exception. A tender wrapper nestled a flavorful pork and chive filling, while a chili oil sauce drizzled on top gave a welcome spiciness.
As much as the dumplings were delicious, the true gem at Bae Bae's Kitchen is their Korean fried chicken. These whole wings are perfectly cooked with a crisp exterior and ample amounts of meat for the price. The seasoning is quite well balanced in this one such that we didn't need a sauce at all, but have to admit their sauces on the side were pretty amazing (wasabi honey, anyone)?
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Drink options include various teas, kombucha, and coffees. The milk tea of the day was an earl grey which was creamy and just sweet enough; we added boba for some deliciously chewy pops of texture.
We are also big fans of the counter service style of ordering here, and even more so because the staff was so friendly and helpful. They explained how the build-your-own concept worked, and detailed all the ins and outs of each protein and side.
Looking for Something Faster? Try Bae Bae's Cafe
In late 2019, Bae Bae's expanded with a second space, aptly named Bae Bae's Cafe, a few doors down from the main restaurant location. This one primarily serves as a spot to serve up an array of drinks including boba tea, Vietnamese coffee, Thai iced tea, and more and is a perfect secondary option for those who want to grab a drink to go quickly.
This one also has a very limited food menu consisting of banh mi sandwiches. During our first visit, I ordered a Korean banh mi sandwich that featured a bulgogi-like beef with pickled vegetables on top. While on the smaller end for a sandwich, the flavors of this one were quite delicious and combine some of our favorite elements of both Korean and Vietnamese cuisine into one dish.
We can't wait to try the more traditional options on our next visit!
If you're looking for a quick meal that's loaded with flavor and won't break the bank, or for a healthy-ish takeout option downtown, Bae Bae's Kitchen or Bae Bae's Cafe is surely the answer.
Bae Bae's Kitchen is located at 951 Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh and Bae Bae's Cafe is located at 945 Liberty Avenue just a few doors down.
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