We're slowly working our way through the plethora of Asian restaurants in Squirrel Hill, and on our most recent trip we found ourselves at Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33.
This spot on Shady Ave. right next to Starbucks is housed in what used to be the neighborhood laundromat, and it serves up a huge menu that's a mix of Taiwanese food as well as Americanized Chinese food.
With stiff competition just steps away, we wanted to find out how this one stacks up.
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Diving Deep into Taiwanese Cuisine
We visited on a weekend and the restaurant was overflowing with large groups and families. As soon as we got the menu in our hands we realized that it was really more like a novel listing page upon page of soups, appetizers, and all manner of seafood, meat, and veggie dishes.
Basically, the menu allows you to be adventurous and try things like tripe soup, jellyfish, or intestine, or play it safe with more recognizable dishes like pork buns and kung pao chicken.
For appetizers we tried a few familiar items – soup dumplings and scallion pancakes. The soup dumplings were a little gummy but had a piping hot broth and well-seasoned pork filling.
The scallion pancake was also a solid choice with lots of flaky and crispy layers. We chose the one with egg but beef was also a filling option that we're definitely going to try on a return visit.
I was craving noodles so for my entree I ordered the house special pan fried noodle, which was ramen covered in a brown sauce with mixed veggies, chicken, and shrimp. The noodles were crispy at first before they gave way to the somewhat generic brown sauce.
There were plenty of veggies but I would have loved more shrimp and chicken. It was a perfectly fine meal, but it wasn't any more intriguing than what we'd expect of what we'd call an Americanized Chinese dish. The portion size was huge, though, and gave us plenty of leftovers.
Jeremy asked for a recommendation for his entree and things went a bit better for him. He got the beef short ribs with spicy sauce which were unbelievably crispy on the outside and covered in a spicy, tangy, sweet brown sauce.
Some parts of the meat were chewy, but this dish was still definitely a better choice than the noodles. We still have dreams about these beauteous hunks of meat.
From our visit it seems that the more adventurous entree options are worth trying here, and we will definitely be back to try them as we barely scratched the surface of the elaborate menu.
Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33 is located at 1711 Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill.