One of the things I love about traveling around Japan is the odd assortment of restaurants and food vendors you can visit. From the famed sushi masters, teppanyaki stalls, izakaya bars, to conveyor belt restaurants and vending machines galore, Japan really does have it all.
But in Pittsburgh, as is the case in most cities in the USA, we only have the opportunity to visit a small selection of these incredible establishments- most of which only focus on the sushi and noodle dishes that Japan is famous for. While these are delicious, they often completely ignore the other amazing meals the country offers.
One of the unique meals that Japan is known for is the bento box, and Oishii Bento in Oakland is working hard to bring this style out for all of Pittsburgh to enjoy.
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Bento Boxes at Oishii Bento
You've probably seen bento boxes making the rounds on social media, especially Pinterest, where cute animals created out of food for Japanese school children have become a hobby all to itself.
Sadly (or luckily depending on your viewpoint), Oishii Bento does not do those.
But don't worry, the single serving takeaway boxes that Oishii Bento does make are everything you'd hope for in a Japanese meal with a large portion of rice, multiple vegetable sides, a few kyoza dumplings, and a protein of your choice. On our recent visit I went for the namesake bento box which features shrimp tempura, vegetables, fried egg, and a house broth that did not disappoint.
Although a bit soggy from the broth, the tempura shrimp is exactly like you'd expect at any restaurant in Japan, and the bento box concept was enough to fill me up- even though we over indulged with many sides that were not entirely necessary, but incredibly delicious.
Noodles, Sushi, and Kyoza for the Rest
I will say that the bento box concept is an odd one, even though I do enjoy it. For those who are not keen on getting a takeaway box, Oishii Bento has you covered with other delicious options that include numerous sides, ramen and noodle bowls, and fresh made sushi.
As I mentioned our over indulging here, we decided to order one item from each of the major categories that Oishii Bento offers, and ended up with an extra side of shrimp stuffed kyoza, a katsu udon noodle bowl featuring a fried pork cutlet, and a specialty tuna roll.
Although we weren't particularly fond of the filling of the kyoza due to the apparent lack of shrimp, the crisp dumpling wrapper was one of the best fried dumplings we've had in the city so far. The sushi roll was quite large, packed full of tuna, and was incredibly fresh (a constant worry in a city located so far inland). The star of these three selections was the katsu pork cutlet, which could have been offered at a restaurant anywhere in Japan and have held up as a rival. The fact that it was placed on an incredibly rich udon bowl only made it that much better.
Overall, the biggest highlight of Oishii Bento was not the fact that nearly everything we tried was delicious and cooked close to perfection, it was the price. The average menu item here ranges from $7-$9, and the most expensive item only just breaks the $10 mark. So if you're looking to try a lot of good Japanese food without breaking your budget, Oishii Bento is the place to check out.
Just be prepared to wait in line with a lot of college students. This one is no longer a secret.
Oishii Bento is located at 119 Oakland Avenue in Oakland.
Looking for more delicious Asian food in Pittsburgh? Check out Chick'n Bubbly just next door, Teppanyaki Kyoto in Highland Park, Everyday Noodles in Squirrel Hill, and, if you really want to make the drive, Golden Pig in Cecil, PA! Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!