New Downtown Korean restaurant serves bulgogi and fried chicken with Chipotle-style ordering

Get ready for Korean fried chicken and kimbap: Fast-casual Bae Bae’s Kitchen has opened Downtown at 951 Liberty Ave., serving Korean breakfast and lunch fare.

A chalkboard menu behind the counter displays kimbap options, what looks like a sushi roll packed with kimchi, seaweed, vegetables and sometimes beef. Another board reads “create your own plate,” which starts with rice, stir-fried glass noodles or salad, followed by choose-your-protein among Korean fried chicken breast ($12), pork cutlet, bulgogi ($13) and tofu. Pick a banchan, or side dish for the third option. Vietnamese coffee also makes an appearance, along with a variety of tea and other drinks.

Bae Bae’s Kitchen is the first restaurant from Seoul native Ashley Bae and her husband, Eddie Lai, who moved here from Los Angeles three months ago — around the same time Ms. Bae had a baby boy.

“We serve food made with ingredients we’d be happy to serve our newborn,” says Mr. Lai.

Inside the restaurant, look for two-and four-tops and a counter along the front window in a room with reclaimed wood accents awash with natural light.

The couple chose Pittsburgh for its up-and-coming, affordable reputation and this stretch of Liberty to bring a stylish little international restaurant, next to the Toonseum and across from the August Wilson Center.

The couple met when Ms. Bae was a student in New York, then at Pace University, and Mr. Lai was in New York for acting and theater; he was supporting himself by working in restaurants like Blue Ribbon and Morimoto. They eventually moved to LA and lived there for four years before heading east to Pennsylvania. Mr. Lai, who’s Taiwanese, grew up in State College.

The couple scouted out the city on a road trip from out west and embraced Pittsburgh, where they now live in Regent Square.

“We want to make an impact,” says Mr. Lai, “and to be a part of Pittsburgh’s culture.”

Melissa McCart:


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