Rose Tea Cafe

April 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

I love traveling to a new city with someone who has already lived there. All the bad restaurants and stores have been filtered out. I like visiting Pittsburgh because I get to eat at all Wayne’s favorite places and become equally as obsessed with the food as he was during his time there, but without putting in the sweat equity. I have a distorted, positive view of Pittsburgh because my rose-colored glasses aren’t smudged by the fingerprints of Pittsburgh’s harsh, cold winters nor are the lenses cracked by Carnegie Melon’s grueling engineering programs that demands blood, sweat, and human sacrifices in the form of all-night studying sessions and living in computer labs. One of the places I was looking forward to eating the entire car ride up to Pittsburgh was Rose Tea Cafe, a Taiwanese restaurant in Squirrel Hill. It was the last place where I ate before leaving Pittsburgh last spring, and I remember wishing we had eaten there earlier so I could have visited the restaurant multiple times since there were so many dishes offered and everything I tasted was so delicious.

Rose Tea Cafe is crowded around the normal meal times but Wayne and I didn’t arrive in Pittsburgh until 3 PM on Friday so the restaurant was completely empty of patrons. It was a little bizarre and reminded me of the one time we ate crepes at 4 PM on a Saturday at Cafe Bonaparte during the rare moment it was devoid of patrons. I thought I should savor the moment.

I ordered the pork chop over rice with marinated egg on the side and the taro milk tea with bubbles because I wanted something comforting and well-seasoned and something creamy and chewy. I have this weird obsession with taro that pops up in concentrated spurts; I’m convinced that the artificial taro flavor tastes like cookies and cream. The size of the bubbles at Rose Tea Cafe are smaller than the average bubble, at least a quarter of the size. It was the first time I’ve ever had such tiny bubbles; my tongue thought they were adorable! The drink was frothy on top and had lots of the artificial taro flavor that reminds me of cookies and cream– perfect(!). The bubbles were soft and chewy; two characteristics I will never take for granted again after the trying to find one place out of the five places I tried in Philadelphia’s Chinatown that would serve me decent bubble tea– most of the time, the bubbles were rock hard on the inside, the milk tea was incredibly diluted with ice so that there was barely any flavor, and contained granular sugar that made for a rocky, confusing slurp before I tossed the entire thing into the nearest trashcan.

The portions are large, and I should have just stopped ordering after asking for the porkchop over rice and the taro bubble tea. But I was craving Chinese water spinach since it is so hard to find a place in Northern Virginia that even offers it and it is my favorite vegetable, so I had to order a plate. It was actually one of the main reasons I was so looking forward to eating at Rose Tea Cafe. I love that the large leaves and the hollow stems are not even the slightest bit bitter when cooked and that they soak up the flavors of the broth when cooking.  The Chinese water spinach are cooked just until the leaves are tender and the stems still have a little bite to them.

I loved the porkchop! It was well-seasoned and so full of flavor. The edges were so crispy and just a little bit crunchy. Best part? I got TWO porkchops! So I could hog my own pork chop and share the other one with Wayne. It wasn’t until I had been eating for a while that I realized that the “mmm…MMmmmm…mmmMMMmmm” sound wasn’t part of the song playing in the background, especially since the songs switched, and it was actually coming from me. I was pretty much imitating this kitty without knowing it:


Rose Tea Cafe
5880 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 421-2238


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