When I think of Pittsburgh neighborhoods with the best Asian food, Squirrel Hill is at the top of the list. Both Forbes and Murray are stacked with dozens of options, with varying styles and price ranges. Sun Penang, until recently, had gone under my radar. But after hearing a rave review from a friend, I just haaaad to try it.
As a picky eater, I’m the first to admit that I tend to go for the safest bet at a new restaurant. With all my might, I held back and did not order the General Tso’s like I normally would. For a restaurant like Sun Penang, I wanted to try something new. They have several different menus, offering some of your more traditional Chinese and Thai fare, but the real draw is the dim sum menu. Dim sum refers to bite-size dishes typically served in a steamer or on a small plate (thanks, Wiki). Personally, I would classify it as “weird-ass dumplings and fried stuff”, which somehow seems less eloquent.
Sun Penang is a little on the pricey side, but the luxury is fully realized in the decor. Long drapes line the dimly-lit walls, and leather and mahogany coat the rest of the interior. The bar was stocked with an alarming amount of whiskey for an Asian restaurant. I love whiskey, but the romantic atmosphere (even though I was dining alone) compelled me to order a glass of Cabernet. After much deliberation and wine-consumption, I chose three dim sum items: the Fried Shrimp Ball, Chive w/ Shrimp (dumpling-type thing), and Lotus Leaf Sweet Rice.
The shrimp balls (God, I wish they had a more appetizing name) came out first, and were warm and crispy. Fried to perfection.It’s always a little unnerving to eat something simultaneously fishy and puffy. Get over the initial shock, and these little guys can be pretty tasty. Douse them in the accompanying sauce (see photo) for the full flavor effect. Next up, the Chive with Shrimp.
Sorry this photo doesn’t really do these guys justice. These steamed dumplings were filled with a mixture of chive and shrimp in a creamy tartar-sort-of thing. It was kind of a crab rangoon texture, but without cheese. I thought they were totally delicious. I love the squishyness of the outside of the dumplings – yom yommers. Suddenly, I remembered I had more food to eat.
As I was so kindly informed so as to not make an ass of myself, you are not supposed to eat the leaf! Don’t do it! Instead, peel back the layers of lotus leaf to uncover the steamy mass of food locked within – sticky rice, with chicken, shrimp, shittake mushrooms, I think some kind of pork?, and other miscellaneous goodies. The lotus leaf gave the whole dish a very earthy taste. Different from anything I’ve ever had, and definitely not your everyday American-Asian food. Everything was cooked very well and the sticky rice was sweet and delectable. Sadly, I could not finish it. But never fear!
I got to take my leftovers home in this handsome bag with a little umbrella poked in the side! It doesn’t get much cuter than tiny umbrellas, folks.
Seeing as how I am still without a good rating system, I’ll divvy out a nice 7.5/10 for Sun Penang. It’ll leave you feeling full, worldly, and totally Kawaii!