Here are a dozen places to visit in Downtown/Strip District, East End, South Side and South Hills for the best tacos in Pittsburgh.
Earlier this summer, Munch began to receive a frenzied series of communiques from Little Sister of Munch.
They started in early summer -- texts and emails informing Munch that a new restaurant would soon open in Irwin, where LSOM resides with Fiance of Little Sister of Munch.
"Yummy Palace is open for real! We are here for lunch. We need to Munch!!!!" she texted on Aug. 5.
LSOM, who serves as Munch's restaurant scout in the eastern suburbs, reported that Yummy Palace, which serves Chinese and Thai dishes as well as sushi, was worth a visit from Munch.
The texts continued throughout August -- LSOM would report on each meal at Yummy Palace and plead with Munch to make a visit.
One Saturday early this month, Munch and Dear One of Munch headed east to finally have dinner with LSOM and FOLSOM at Yummy Palace.
We stopped at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine -- Yummy Palace is BYOB -- and then headed across Route 30 for dinner.
Yummy Palace is tucked in a shopping plaza behind McDonald's along Route 30. Low lighting and warm colors in the restaurant are a stark contrast to the concrete and traffic just outside the doors.
The waitress opened our wines and nestled the white wine into an ice bucket while we looked over the menu. Yummy Palace's menu is a bit overwhelming because it's essentially three restaurants in one. The waitress came back twice, asking if we were ready to order, but it took us awhile to coordinate appetizers and entrees -- Munch wanted to ensure we'd get a sampling of each cuisine.
FOLSOM said the crab rangoon ($3.95) was a must, so we started there. They were tasty, but the orange sauce that accompanied them was a bit sweet for Munch's taste.
We decided we needed to sample a few sushi rolls for appetizers and decided on a Philadelphia roll ($5.90), a spicy tuna roll ($5.95) and a yellowtail jalapeno roll ($11.95).
The Philadelphia and spicy tuna rolls -- American sushi-joint standards -- were good. The yellowtail jalapeno rolls were tasty (though Munch and DOOM thought they were a bit light on the jalapeno), but the presentation was spectacular. The rolls surrounded an intricately cut cucumber flower flecked with orange roe. DOOM noted the "impressive knife skills" of the sushi chef and snapped an iPhone photo.
DOOM decided to continue with sushi as an entree, ordering tuna sashimi ($4.50), the "Irwin roll" -- when in Rome, right? -- ($12.95) and a yellowtail scallion roll ($4.95).
When the sushi arrived, DOOM was overwhelmed by the Irwin roll, which involved tempura shrimp rolled in rice and topped with spicy tuna and "crunch" -- a panko-ish substance. Visually, it was a long, over-thick roll bracketed by two tempura shrimp tails resembling football uprights
"Oh my god," DOOM mused. "What to do. What to do?"
DOOM was able to attack the Irwin roll but enjoyed the small, manageable tuna sashimi and yellowtail scallion roll more than the unwieldy Irwin roll.
DOOM added that the wasabi was weak.
"A bottle cap's worth of wasabi cannot win out over the Irwin roll," DOOM mused.
Munch and LSOM went for Thai, ordering the penang curry with tofu ($8.95) and red curry chicken ($9.95), respectively.
Munch asked for the penang curry to be extra spicy, but when it arrived it was fairly bland. LSOM fared better with the red curry, which was truly spicy and flavorful.
FOLSOM opted for Chinese, ordering the crispy honey shrimp ($12.50). He polished off the whole plate.
Munch approves of the warm decor, culinary diversity and friendly service of Yummy Palace and will return in the future, but next time, Munch will be more emphatic about Munch's desire for spice.