Roll, sushi, roll!

By Alex Avakian

Sushi Boat 412-681-1818 Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. 128… Sushi Boat 412-681-1818 Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. 128 Oakland Ave. Panther Funds: Yes $ At this eatery in the heart of Oakland’s unofficial Asian food district (Oakland Avenue between Fifth and Forbes avenues), ordering is simple: Choose a base ingredient (vegetables, chicken, beef or shrimp), choose a kind of noodle or rice, choose a sauce. Pay at the counter, and in minutes you’ll have a Styrofoam container carrying your hot, steamy dish, a large enough portion to carry over for your next meal. Either take it to go or climb the stairs to sit in Sushi Boat’s second-floor dining area. Sushi Boat also offers a variety of sushi rolls and platters, a specialty, at a relatively reasonable price for the amount of filling and rice in an order.’ And for a dollar, pick up Pocky sticks, which are delicious little Japanese biscuit sticks dipped in chocolate or strawberry cream. Szechwan Express 412-687-8000 Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.- 12 a.m. Sunday 12 p.m.- 11 p.m. 125 Oakland Ave. Panther Funds: Yes $ ‘ ‘ ‘ The front of Szechwan Express’ menu proudly proclaims, ‘Good news for students ‘mdash; small price you pay, large portion you get,’ and they mean it. Portions at Szechwan Express practically overflow from their containers. Plus, almost every dish rings in at less than $5. The most expensive dishes on the menu are $5.48, which include the General Tso’s and many combination (chicken, shrimp and pork) dishes. If variety is the spice of life, then Szechwan Express uses it liberally. Offering about 150 different menu items, any sort of Oriental dish you can imagine is found here, plus delicious fried bar food. ‘ ‘ ‘ Inside the restaurant there’s a surprising amount of dining space. After placing your order with the man at the front, he will shout your order into a microphone for the kitchen to hear. Taiwan Cafe 412-687-6288 Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m. to 8:30 3725 Forbes Ave. Panther Funds: Yes $ ‘ ‘ ‘ Despite having a Forbes Avenue address, Taiwan Cafe is one of the four Asian restaurants on Oakland Avenue. An almost secret-looking flight of stairs under the yellow awning on Oakland leads down into a large basement dining area. And for those older than 21, the restaurant boasts a large selection of six packs and 40s to go. Along with the typical American domestic beers, Taiwan Cafe also has imports, like Tsing Tsao. ‘ ‘ ‘ The menu is very basic, and it doesn’t have nearly as much choice as, say, Szechwan Express. Don’t worry, though, you can still find traditional Asian dishes like lo mein, as well as some curry dishes and Taiwan rice noodles. They also serve tasty milk and green teas with tapioca pearls, as well as smoothies and specialty milkshake smoothies. ‘ ‘ ‘ Oishii Bento 412-687-3335 Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. Saturday 11:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. 119 Oakland Ave. Panther Funds: Yes $ ‘ ‘ ‘ Another of Oakland’s Asian food district spots, Oishii Bento serves up authentic Japanese and Korean dishes. Pick from rice bowls, sushi or bento boxes, small Japanese trays divided into sections of rice, meat, pickled radish, gyoza and other tasty nibbles. ‘ ‘ ‘ The first floor consists of a bar looking onto the street, two tables (more upstairs) and a small sushi bar. The upstairs is similar to Sushi Boat’s eat-in section. Oishii Bento literally translates to ‘yummy lunchbox’ in Japanese, a name that accurately reflects the fare. LuLu’s Noodle Shop and Yum Wok 412-687-7777 Daily 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. 400 S. Craig St. Panther Funds: No $$ On the walls of this Pittsburgh hotspot, black-and-white photographs show a man professing his love to a woman by offering her a bouquet of noodles and a woman wearing noodles on her face like a veil. You might not be possessed to play with your meal as those people were, but your stomach will appreciate a night out for noodles. Despite the name and the decorations, LuLu’s has much more than simple lo mein. While you can certainly order the building blocks of Asian cuisine, the restaurant has a fair share of unique creations. LuLu’s signature dish, pan fried noodles, is a nest of thin rice noodles fried crispy and hard, then covered with shitake mushrooms, Asian greens, bean sprouts, onions and LuLu’s special sauce. LuLu’s has a spectacular bubble tea and smoothie bar, too. Offering all kinds of fruits and flavors from honeydew to taro bean, LuLu’s loads up the bottom of your glass with tapioca pearls. With two names, this one’s well worth the trip to Craig Street for a relaxing sit-down meal. Spice Island Tea House 412-687-8821 Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m. 253 Atwood St. Panther Funds: No $$ If you’re looking for a nice place to take a date or maybe even your parents, try Spice Island Tea House. Located on Atwood Street next door to residential housing, it’s easy to miss the front door. Once inside, a dim, rustic atmosphere makes Spice Island a classier choice for dinner. On the menu, Spice Island reaches well beyond typical Asian food. Some of the items that stand out include Indonesian festival fried rice, a blend of onions, bean sprouts, peas and carrots stir-fried with coconut milk, shrimp, pasta and turmeric, garnished with sliced boiled egg, cucumber, tomato and fried onion, or the gutgyi gut, Burmese rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, beef, bean sprouts and yellow vatana peas with chili hot sauce and vinegar. The list goes on, and the restaurant also offers several vegetarian specialty dishes, as well as more basic dishes such as their ‘ever famous pad thai.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Spice Island Tea House has, of course, tea, too. Offering 22 distinct choices, this ain’t your grandma’s Earl Grey. A casual place with a little more luxury than your average on-campus dining, Spice Island is one of Oakland’s most unique eateries. ‘ ‘ ‘ Asia Tea House 412-621-1619 Sunday-Saturday: 10:30 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. Schenley Park Plaza Panther Funds: No $’ ‘ ‘ Located between the Hillman and Carnegie libraries on the Schenley Plaza lawn, this Tea House is more of a tea kiosk. Because of its small size, the menu is somewhat limited, but what they do make, they make well. Choose between General Tso’s chicken, bourbon chicken, chicken with mushrooms, pepper steak or tofu, and then add two sides. Try the green beans ‘mdash; they’re always fresh and deliciously crispy. On top of that they offer bubble drinks, five different sushi rolls and, of course, funnel cake. ‘ ‘ ‘ The allure of the Tea House is the ability to get your food quickly and eat outdoors while enjoying the atmosphere Schenley Plaza provides. Golden Palace 412-687-2288 Monday-Sunday 11a.m.-‘ 9:30 p.m. 3607 Forbes Ave. Panther Funds: No $ ‘ ‘ ‘ The Golden Palace is Oakland’s one and only Chinese buffet. The setup is about as simple as it gets: Walk in, pay about seven bucks (15 percent off for students with ID), then pig out. A giant buffet table sits in the center of the G.P. like a glorious offering to the poor and hungry college students of America. ‘ ‘ ‘ Offering some 15 dishes, there’s something for everyone. Beyond your basic noodles and fried rices, the palace offers breaded fish, squid, dumplings, wontons, little sugar doughnut nuggets and much more. You’ll never leave Golden Palace unsatisfied. Plus, Golden Palace always offers the added possibility of competitive eating competitions.