If you feel like modern Asian fusion cuisine is overdone and usually mediocre, you should head to Soba in Shadyside for a change of perspective.
With unpretentious but solid service, sleek and stylish decor, and inventive dishes that combine traditional Asian flavors with unexpected but delicious modern touches, Soba is an excellent choice if you're looking for a place to spend a special night out.
A Mix of Just About Everything
Soba's menu has a nice mix of small plates, soups, salads, sushi and sashimi, and entrees. We opted for a little bit of everything and decided on two small plates, a sushi roll, an entree, and a dessert.
Their cocktail menu is also intriguing with its Asian spins on traditional drinks like the Asian Plum Sangria made with plum wine and the Sichuan Sour made with sichuan peppercorn syrup, bourbon, and bitters.
We were in the mood for something smokey and went for the Tiger Claw: mezcal, Cherry Heering, Cardamaro, and orange. The cocktail had strong fruit flavors balancing perfectly with the smokiness of the mezcal, which was exactly what we were hoping for.
It Was Hard to Pick a Favorite
We started off with two small plates, the Nantucket bay scallops and the bao buns. The bao buns were filled with Korean fried chicken, pickles, and cilantro.
The chicken was amazingly crispy on the outside which contrasted perfectly with the soft bun, and the pickles and cilantro added a nice tanginess and brightness to the dish. We devoured them so quickly our waiter almost thought we had never received them!
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The Nantucket bay scallops were one of our favorite dishes, both for presentation and flavor. The bright red pomegranate seeds stood out like little jewels against the white scallops, turnip puree, and black plate. The seeds' sweet-tart flavor and crunchy texture also perfectly complemented the savory miso and smooth, creamy turnip puree.
And of course, let's not forget the scallops- despite the many things going on in the dish, they stole the show with their tender, buttery texture.
For sushi we chose the double tuna roll which had tuna on the inside as well as the outside of the roll. Combined with avocado, spicy mayo, and scallion, this roll was everything you'd expect in a sushi roll at a nice restaurant.
We were torn on which entree to choose but our waiter helped us land with the Korean bi bim bap. The pieces of beef tenderloin were so delicious and nearly melted in our mouth.
The beef's richness went well the tanginess of the pickled shiitake mushrooms, the funkiness of the kim chi, and the spiciness of the gochujang.
Make Room for Dessert
Although by this point we were quite full, we had to take a look at the dessert menu. I love ice cream and considering Soba makes their own daily flavors in-house, I couldn't say no to the banana split.
It came with three different ice creams (lemongrass, plum-ginger, and condensed milk) covered in a hot fudge sauce, served on top of a banana cake and alongside bruleed bananas.
You definitely want to split this one with several other people as the serving is quite large. The ice creams were all worth talking about but the plum-ginger was the best with its fruitiness and spiciness from the ginger.
The banana cake was a tasty vehicle for mopping up the ice cream, and the bruleed bananas added a crunchiness to an otherwise creamy dish.
When it comes to finding delicious Asian fusion in Pittsburgh, Soba is one place that will not let you down- and we look forward to visiting again in the future.
Soba is located at 5847 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside.
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