Tamari is a pretty special place for me, not only was it the destination for my first ever review, but it was one of the first restaurants that got me interested in Pittsburgh’s casual upscale restaruant scene. A few weeks ago Chef Roger Li switched over from the fantastic summer menu, to the fall/winter menu. I felt this was definitely an appropriate time for a revisit, so I made reservations for the night after the initial switch.
Browsing the new menu I was happy to see many of my (and my date’s) favorite dishes were still being offered. I don’t know if I could forgive Roger Li, or Allen Chen if they decided to get rid of the robata platter, particularly the bacon and soft boiled quail egg.
My date and I decided to start with the signature a new selection from both the cold and hot tapas. She also chose to sample a new entree; though tempted to follow suit, I couldn’t neglect one of my all time favorites that remained from the previous menu. We of course started the meal the only way any meal should begin when visiting Tamari.
|Bacon and Soft-Boiled Quail Egg|
Tamari’s signature Robata skewers. A great selection of grilled offerings served with 3 sauces: ponzu butter, chimichurri, ginger. Do not go to Tamari without trying a bacon wrapped quail egg dipped in ponzu butter; it’s worth the visit alone.
|Bibb Lettuce Wrap – sesame ginger chicken, butternut squash|
This was one of the new cold tapas on offer. I would liken this to an upscale version of chicken salad. The sweet mayonaise based sauce which covered the diced chicken and squash was complimented well by the light spice of the pickled ginger.
|Butternut Squash Bisque – chipotle crème fraiche, persimmon, truffle oil|
From the hot tapas selection. The bisque was a creamy and thick squash puree with an occasional diced piece for texture. More sweet than savory, which I enjoyed, but others may find a bit saccharine. The truffle oil was a nice savory element, and the fried onions on top further varied the texture.
|Mole Roasted Chicken – soba noodles, ra-yu marinated cucumbers|
A new entree. The Mole sauce was crusted over the generous serving of chicken breast. The outer sear of which led way to a perfectly moist interior. The ra-yu marinated cucumbers could be likened to a kim chi or sorts; tasty on their own but I’m not sure they really meshed with the mole sauce. It felt a bit like two individual dishes, but two tasty ones at that.
Sushi & Sashimi - california roll, assorted nigiri & sashimi
Another one of my favorites from Tamari. I believe this platter has gotten even larger since the last time I ordered. I’ve never had a bad piece of fish at the restaurant and tonight was no exception. The california roll was neatly formed, the sashimi cuts generous, and the nigiri pieces had a near perfect ratio of fish to fantastically prepared rice. I rarely talk about price when reviewing restaurants, but at a mere $28 dollars, this is an exceptional value.
This was one of the few nights I didn’t spot owner Allen Chen on the floor checking in on the guests, but the staff was not lax in his absence. Service was friendly and efficient as always, which rounded out another successful experience at Tamari.