Novo Asian Food Hall Review – Many Options in the Strip

Published by Angie. Last Updated on May 15, 2024.

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Novo Asian Food Hall in the Strip District Terminal building is a restaurant concept with seven different Asian food stalls, each showcasing a different country and style of food. We absolutely love food halls when they're done well, and are happy that Novo is focusing specifically on Asian food, from local chefs, including some cuisines that are underrepresented in Pittsburgh- like Filipino.

Overall we are quite happy with the food here; however, we have had a few problems with the general dining experience during our visits during initial opening.

So in this one, we thought we'd share our thoughts on the food and the space so you can make the most of your visit to Novo and have the best experience possible!

Novo Asian Food Hall Offers a Wealth of Options

Mola Sushi at Novo Asian Food Hall

Novo features seven different food stall concepts, including Mola (sushi), Tan Lac Vien (Vietnamese), Lolo's (Filipino), Sumi's Cakery (Korean bakery), Teachana (tea and smoothies), Korea Garden 2, and Kung Fu Chicken (Taiwanese style fried chicken).

If you recognize some of these names from popular local restaurants, you are right! The owners of Novo have been quite active within the Pittsburgh food scene for years and have brought some of the city's best restaurant concepts together in one space. Throw on a large bar, with many Asian beers, cocktail ingredients, sake, and more, and you have the kind of food hall that would get us going back to work our way through the menus to try it all.

Kung Fu Fried Chicken Sandwich

To us, grazing is the name of the game here unless you really want to do a deep dive at a particular stall. Starting out with an order of sushi from Mola is a must in our opinion (they're one of the best sushi restaurants in Pittsburgh, after all). From there, we built an entree spread from other concepts like Lolo's for their pork sisig (featuring rich and fatty pork belly, tart calamansi, and ample chili heat) and a monstrous fried chicken sandwich from Kung Fu Chicken that didn't let us down with its crispy batter.

Want something a bit different? Swap that fried chicken sandwich for a banh mi from Tan Lac Vien and replace the pork sisig with bulgogi from Korea Garden 2, and you will have an equally exciting meal (admittedly, this is our next order for a return visit!). 

Sumi Cakery

Naturally, finishing with dessert at Sumi's Cakery is a must, and their wonderfully creamy and rich egg tarts were a favorite of ours that are hard to overlook when available.

So while you could visit this one and go all-in on a specific menu, as most have items that would satisfy a full appetizer, entree, and side dining experience, our go-to method here is mixing it up with a bit of everything- assuming the crowd sizes allow ordering from more than one stall easily. Truly, at peak hours, this one can be a bit tricky!

Peak Hours Made For a Tricky Dining Experience

Novo Asian Food Hall

One of the main issues we've had at Novo Asian Food Hall revolves around being at the restaurant during peak dining hours. The layout, with the stalls around the perimeter and bar at the center, makes the food hall a bit difficult to navigate, especially when busy. 

During both of our visits, the hall felt like it was packed to its peak (or beyond it, even), which made finding a seat difficult. On one visit, the lines at the food stalls were so long that they overflowed into the seating area (eating into already limited seating). During both visits, the bar had similar challenges without a set ordering area, which meant awkwardly hovering over a person sitting nearby while waiting to get a bartender's attention to order.

To say we spent 10 to 20 minutes walking around looking for a table and another 10 to 20 minutes waiting in line at the bar or a food stall is an understatement- when it was busy, all this was a bit much for us. On one visit we even had to split up with one person saving the seat at the table and the other running around waiting in line and placing orders- it ended up being quite tricky to balance it all even if the final meal was, in a word, delicious.

Cocktails and Sandwich at Novo

Thankfully, Novo seems to be improving on this with things like online ordering and longer operating hours to spread out the demand. To say this one was popular on day one truly was an understatement, and we expect many of the concerns we had experienced early on to work themselves out over time. 

More importantly, it is also worth noting that while Novo is open every day of the week, the restaurant concepts have days that they are closed each week. So if you have your heart set on a specific stall, be sure to check out their website or social media profiles to ensure they are open. Visiting and finding the concept you want is closed that day of the week is not a pleasant feeling!

Overall, we love the concept of Novo and are happy that there are finally some local, independent businesses within the Strip District Terminal Building. We look forward to eating our way through the menus at all of the concepts of this one; however, admittedly will stick to visiting this one during off-peak hours to get the best experience. This one truly hit the ground running in terms of popularity, which, despite some issues, we have to admit we love seeing a good idea take off right away!

Novo Asian Food Hall is located at 1931 Smallman Street in the Strip District.

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