Don't be fooled by nondescript exterior of Subba Asian Restaurant
Situated on the second floor of a nondescript building on the corner of Cedar Avenue and East Ohio Street in the Pittsburgh's North Side, Subba Asian Restaurant boasts a menu filled with Chinese, Indian and Nepalese dishes, as well as sushi.
The quiet and dark but surprisingly large dining room opens up after a walk down an equally dark hallway past the restaurant's kitchen. Tables and booths dot the room, which is sparsley decorated with vases of flowers, photos and other tchotchke. Soft music serves as ambient background noise.
No sushi was spotted, though the two-page menu did feature an array of well-known Americanized favorites as well as lesser known dishes from the regions of Nepal. We opted to avoid our familiarities and instead try what Subba Asian Restaurant is known for.
First we had to get our hands on the much-talked about momo. Subba offers both steamed and pan fried versions of the famous Nepalese dumpling. We got both. That meant we had an abundance of the spicy tomato achar sauce for dipping. The pan fry momo were stuffed with chicken and had an excellent flavor, though I preferred the steamed vegetable momo because they had an almost soup dumpling quality about them without being filled with broth.
We then dug into the Nepali-style Chicken Biryani. The mixed rice dish was so flavorful and was one of our favorite dishes of the night. Generous pieces of potato and carrot mixed with peas and large cuts of sweet and savory chicken were tossed with seasoned and almost carmelized rice. Our bellies were so satisified at this point we could have called it quits but instead we continued exploring the menu.
Next up came the Chicken Dal Bhat and the Vegetable Dal Bhat. Platters soon started to take over our table. The combination dinners that were the Dal Bhats were outstanding. Servings of white rice were paired alongside small bowls of mixed curried vegetables, spinach (saag), lentils (daal) and pickles. Served on top, a piece of crisp flatbread (papadum), was perfect for taste testing all the sides.
A hearty serving of Vegetable Datsi with a bowl of white rice was also served. It was a supremely spicy yet delightfully cheesy dish made with potatoes and green chilies.
We enjoyed exploring the different flavor pairings and mixing our different sauces and vegetables with the rice to see what we liked the best. Taking breathers, of course, to keep working through our plates of momos.
Since the Dal Bhats featured small servings of kheer, we didn't order dessert separately. The chilled rice pudding, flavored with cardamom, was the perfect bite of sweetness to end such a spicy and savory meal.
For such a nondescript setting, Subba certainly left a lasting impression on us. Between the delicious food, the laid-back staff and the incredibly fair prices, we will be back. If you're feeling adventurous definitely stop by to dine in or take your food to go!
Amanda McFadden is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.