By Annie Z. at 2016-11-26
I'm becoming one of those asians that only eat asian food when I travel. :X
Asian options are definitely limited in Pittsburgh, and the the few they have are generally pretty not-authentic. Luckily, there was Chaya! Chaya is a very authentic Japanese restaurant that serves a combination of traditional japanese dishes, interesting experimental things that you may not find at an average japanese joint, and americanized japanese food like a philadelphia roll (I mean c'mon, who puts cream cheese in sushi? D:) They're pretty pricey for pittsburgh standards I hear, but still much cheaper than SF.
I really enjoyed my dinner here. It's definitely my favorite restaurant meal here. We ordered the
- amaebi $4.50/each (sweet shrimp) - this is amazing :) they serve the shrimp body in nigiri form & the head fried with lime
- toro $5/each - really well priced toro. Not as fatty as you'd assume, but still delicious and a huge piece!
- raw squid in a sauce - this one's super unique, i've never had anything like it in the US, but I have had similar things in Asia.
- Kanpachi Kama - This is my least favorite item. I wanted the hamachi kama, but they didn't have in stock =( I would not recommend kanpachi over hamachi.
- chirashi - for sushi in a city with no near-by oceans. I was surprised by the quality of the sashimi. It's not as fresh as something expensive you'd get in Sf or nyc, but it's very very good for the price and considering the location.
By Warren I. at 2016-09-08
The rice tasted as though it was scrapped off the side of a pan that had been sitting over-night on the stove. I suppose that because people are the 'last call' they do not get anything fresh? Should I have cooked and brought my own rice? This was unfortunate, and my date and I both looked at each other thinking the same thing as we took our first piece from the roll(s). And I wouldn't of given a rating had she not asked me disappointed if my sushi tasted a 'little different'.
Also, not sure how I feel about sitting in the waiting area while there are fifteen (15) tables available at 8:00 at night. The only reason this restaurant received one (1) star was because my date looked beautiful and was a pleasure to be with. Otherwise it would have received a -0-.
Do not do me wrong, the restaurant was in fact clean, with polite servants and was well air-conditioned. Looking at this fairly,... this might have been a one time occurrence, non-recurring obviously, but because I will not be giving it another chance I do not see the chance for an improvement.
I cannot stand giving these types of ratings. I think it is well justified. Especially because I love and know my sushi.
By Tony D. at 2016-01-18
This is definitely one of the pricier Japanese places around, but you pay for the experience (and the food). From the more traditional and intimate space to the nostalgic dress of the waitstaff, you almost forget you're still in Pittsburgh. Their menu is large, and depending on what you order it can easily come out to $30 or $70 per person. I personally found the fish to be tasty and fresh, and I did end up feeling pretty full from the Salmon Lovers combo. I do wonder if the Regular sushi or sashimi combos would have been enough, which are also not cheap but still a bit more affordable.
They have a ton of other things besides sushi, although most are still probably 50% more than I would like to pay for them. The hot pot, tempura, some of the noodles, and traditional combination dinners are probably good to get and better than your typical hibachi place. The salmon teriyaki was done nicely and was very flavorful. Finally, most entrees come with a small but very tasty and tender chicken karaage that's totally worth getting on its own.
By James E. at 2016-09-25
I travel to Pittsburgh every week for work from NYC, and have put Chaya into my regular weekly rotation (along with Cure, Dish and Morcilla) because it is a great old-school Japanese restaurant. I am an extremely jaded eater, and this place is good by New York standards, and at an extremely reasonably price point. Don't expect anything trendy or showy - expect excellent Nigiri. They serve fresh wasabi - for those of you that don't know the difference between fresh wasabi and dried, or between Nigiri and spicy crunchy tuna rolls, this probably isn't the place for you. For those of you who appreciate good traditional Japanese food, ask the chef to make you 10 or 12 pieces of Nigiri - his choice. You will certainly have a delicious night.
By Charlie C. at 2016-10-30
From my point of view, the food is not authentic Japanese. Japanese restaurant is famous for polite and good customer service and great well-made food. In Chaya, the price does not match the food quality, nor the customer service. Comparing to other non-fast food sushi restaurants, Chaya has no advantage but higher price.
About their customer service, my friends told me one time when they just finished eating, and just chatted a little while, the staff came to ask them to leave in order to save seats for other guests. I thought perhaps this was tolerable. When I was waiting with my friend during busy hours, I saw at least 3 tables were empty in about 25 minutes, but the waitress completely ignored us. After waiting for a while more, I had to ask the staff if we could seat and they told us they need to clean the table, but I saw the tables had all been cleaned up already.
By Nicole B. at 2016-02-17
Such great food. I'll certainly be back. They are one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in town to be sure. If this is important to you in a restaurant, then I strongly recommend getting over here. We started with their green tea, which I was happy to discover, is a "bottomless" green tea (i.e. you can get your cup refilled). Perfect on the chilly night we went.
The server was helpful in guiding us towards and away from items that are authentic but perhaps not to Western palates. However, my dinner partner and I were up for a challenge, so we tried the natto (fermented soybeans, a specialty in Japan that is not typically beloved by westerners). It was certainly an experience! My dinner buddy LOVED it, and I found it very interesting and pretty good.
Next, we had some salmon sushi, which was buttery, fresh and perfect. We tried the shrimp and egg pudding for two, which was a favorite of mine. The warm pudding mixed with the perfectly-tender shrimp was great.
We had a yellowtail cheek, roasted, which is a favorite of my dinner partner's. Even I was impressed by the melt-in-your-mouth roasted fish. For those who are not used to this particular dish, there is not a huge quantity of meat, but the meat you do get is known to be the best morsel of fish you will ever have! It was very good!
Prices were a little higher than some other places, but the quality and service were relatively commensurate with the higher price. I'll be back - and I certainly recommend this place.
By Mike K. at 2016-10-15
This is a small very authentic Japanese restaurant. The food is excellent and the service is very attentive. The menu has many food choices both classic "American style fair" as well as items that are more suited towards the Japanese palate. Items are marked with an "*" or two to signify authentic dishes. The restaurant will allow you to bring your own wine or beer, (for a small fee), and there are a few stores within walking distance that sell these items. If you are a sushi lover and not too ambitious I would suggest you just have the sushi which is a great value for the price. choices come a la carte or as a dinner. The dinner includes a nice salad, miso soup and some pieces of dark meat chicken that have been breaded and deep fried. If you are a lover of Japanese cuisine you will enjoy the value, service and most of all the food.
By Jessica L. at 2015-12-21
Homey but very traditional sushi place that makes me feel I walked into a family restaurant in Japan.
BYOB. The best sushi in Pittsburgh but take that with a grain of salt :). Polite and lovely waitstaff usually dressed in traditional Japanese robes.
I enjoyed their vegetarian sushi rolls as well as the fried tofu dinner. I enjoy the edamame that comes with the dinner as a side dish.
My husband always gets the sushi sampler dinner and says it tastes very fresh and is very filling.
Service is efficient and wait is rarely very long. We have been back here once since going 3 months ago. Look forward to coming again for my sushi fix. Good overall just not wow-worthy.
By Mandi P. at 2016-03-17
This is by far the best sushi I've had in Pittsburgh. The fish was of higher quality than other restaurants I've been to, and is about the same price. The sushi dinners are excellent as they come with a salad, miso soup and these lovely little fried chicken bites.
The wait staff was attentive and considerate. The restaurant is clearly well managed. The food was brought out in a timely manner - we had each piece of the meal separately and didn't wait more than a few minutes for the next one. The restaurant is beautifully decorated (we were surprised by how different it looks from the outside!) and clean. I'm impressed and will definitely be coming back.
By Kristy A. at 2015-08-28
I gotta say - I just don't get it. This place has a lot of good reviews, many of which claim that the food is the highlight of the place. Maybe they were having an off day, but I just don't see it.
We ordered a roll combo and a deluxe sushi combo with the dinner set-ups. The total was $49 before tip with just water to drink. We started with the ginger salad - a small handful of spring mix with a glop of ginger dressing. The dressing was bland and I really sort of missed the crunch of the traditional iceberg. The soup had a weird aftertaste that I just couldn't place. The fried chicken bites with lime were pretty good, though I didn't really understand that whole course as part of a sushi dinner.
The roll combo was pretty basic - a California roll, tuna roll, and salmon roll plus a eel hand roll. Nothing fancy and nothing special. They were actually a little skimpy on the fish if you ask me - it might have been high quality, but I couldn't taste it because it was overwhelmed by the rice, etc. The eel roll was the best of the bunch, but again, not a lot of fish in it. The deluxe sushi platter came with two roe offerings, a tuna roll, and some basic nigiri. Again, nothing really to rave about. My roll combo also suffered from a strange temperature issue. It almost seemed like they rolled it up and then placed it under a heat lamp for a few minutes.
The décor and service were also nothing special, so again, I just don't get all the four and five star reviews. I didn't hate it, but I have definitely had better sushi around town.
By Nisarga M. at 2015-03-21
Best sushi in the area! We came here on a Saturday night, and we had a good 30 minute wait before we were seated. Apparently they take reservations only for special course meals. Anyways, once we were seated the service was a bit slow owing to the fact that it was a weekend, but that was understandable.
We ordered the fried chicken to start with, and it had a nice taste to it, and seemed to be freshly made. Adding a few drops of lemon juice on it made it seem more flavorful. Then the sushi came out and it was delicious! We tried the Avocado roll, Salmon roll and the tempura roll. It seemed to be very freshly made, and even the rice had a nice texture to it. The wasabi was just right, strong and fresh. The place is also BYOB so it works out cheaper and the fact that there are many liquor stores nearby, helps! We enjoyed the meal and we would be back again soon.
By Sarah C. at 2016-11-04
Might be the only Japanese restaurant in Pittsburgh owned by a Japanese person who is the sushi chef there. Chaya is definitely comparable to sushi in Japan, and better than some of the places I tried in Japan actually! They have the best california rolls! The best toro (fatty tuna). It is authentic and delicious. My favorite sushi place, my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh! Small space, very underrated.
By Phornphirun M. at 2016-08-05
One of authentic Japanese restaurant in town!!! The price is a bit high but you'll never regret it. The food is so good fresh and delicious. I've ordered the fried oysters, it's really yummy.
By Steve K. at 2015-12-17
Chaya does good sushi, probably the best quality in the city. You're going to pay for that quality though--it's hard to walk out without spending at least $20 per person, and you can spend much, much more. They also have an assortment of otherwise-hard-to-find appetizers, which are solid, but I would recommend the sushi above anything else. I you get the seared tuna, you're in for quite a treat.
By Chris P. at 2015-05-31
I was a bit underwhelmed by this sushi experience, especially for the price. We ordered the salmon lover combo, tempura, and cold green tea soba noodles. That came out to $75 for two people.
Now, let me tell you what you can get for $74 before tax, including tip, in Los Angeles. You can get the "Trust Me" tasting menu at Sugarfish, one of the country's best sushi restaurants. The preset menu includes an assortment of the BEST cuts of sushi fish direct from the market that very morning. Here, however, I felt like I had picked up some sushi at the grocery store and brought it home.
You can definitely find better sushi and also cheaper sushi, which, in this case, I would recommend.
By James L. at 2015-03-04
Probably the most authentic Japanese as you can get in Pittsburgh. From the get-go, I noticed the flower arrangements, the wooden tables and furniture, and the Japanese music lightly playing in the background. Chaya was beautiful and the establishment made quite the impression. The traditional decor and warm atmosphere was exactly what I needed to help me relax and enjoy some Japanese comfort food.
We shared the Regular Sushi & Sashimi Combination. The course starts with a miso soup and small salad, then a small karaage (japanese fried chicken). Finally the platter comes out, an assortment of sashimi (tuna, salmon, shrimp, etc) and california rolls.
Miso soup and salad were pretty standard, as they should be. I love chicken karaage, so I was a bit disappointed that it was a bit small (four bite-sized pieces). That being said, they do a great job with creating a tender and juicy appetizer. The Sushi and Sashimi combo definitely featured fresh and good quality sashimi and sushi. Overall, it's not exactly filling if you're sharing between two hungry people, but is is a perfectly light dinner.
Kind and professional staff. They are very attentive and come by when every dish is served to ask how we like it and if we need more water. I believe all the waitresses and the sushi chef are Japanese as well, and they were very gentle and created a wonderful dining experience for us.
As much as my hungry stomach may disagree, particularly when it hijacks my mind's sound decision-making, I'm always about quality over quantity. Chaya is quality. Not just the food, but from top to bottom. The atmosphere, the staff, and of course, their dishes all create a remarkable casual dining experience.
By Cynthia H. at 2015-12-19
I don't get the hype, this is not good sushi. The decor is nice and the staff pleasant, but their sushi sucks. We went on a Friday night so the place should have been on their A-game.
Gyoza: these were the highlight of the meal. Fried on one side steamed on the other, and the dumpling sauce was great.
Tuna Poke: where's the sesame oil? And the pieces were mush, like they were left over cuts. I dipped it in the leftover dumpling sauce for flavor.
Sushi & Rolls: tuna belly is normally the highlight of a sushi dinner out and we got excited when the waitress came with the plate and a blow torch in hand. Unfortunately she proceeded to over cook the belly. Further, it did not have the melty quality that it should, and the rice below fell apart in our fingers. That was actually a theme of the dishes we had: crap sushi rice. I mean, seriously, Whole Foods makes better sushi rice than this place. Tastier rolls too. We got a double salmon roll that actually had a fishy taste. And the yellowtail was chewy and stringy. Tuna avocado was surrounded by an overly thick layer of flavorless and crumbly rice. Ick.
We left extremely disappointed.
By Julia M. at 2015-04-15
I came here after reading the reviews. The decor is authentic and impressive. I also liked the size of the restaurant- it was cozy, relaxing without being too packed, even on a busy night.
THE FOOD- I've had sushi in NY and other major metro areas. This is among the top of my list as far as variety and quality. They have a huge nigiri menu,
so definitely check it out if you're in the mood for fresh fish as I was.
The green tea - not the $.50 tea bags that other restaurants try to pass off. Good, authentic matcha powder in a delicate cup. Definitely recommended.
Areas of improvement:
Service could've been better. My cup of tea was refilled once, and the restaurant wasn't super packed.
However, they made a minor error for one of my orders and fixed it immediately- I didn't even have to have that awkward conversation. So- definitely check this place out. Plus, the bus literally stops right in front of it.
By Jen S. at 2016-04-17
I don't understand the hype. The fish texture of my salmon was unpleasant. The service was average. No one at the table finished their meals, and no take-away boxes either. Although I've had worse food.
By Gordon C. at 2015-10-09
Best sushi I had in the States so far.
- Sea Urchin Appetizers - if you like urchin, go for it. Best I had for a while.
- Sake Aburi and Toro Aburi - seared salmond and tuna.
- Super Deluxe Sushi Dinner set (x2) - there was more food that i expected. We end up packing some home. Some of the super deluxe highlights are Uni, Scallop, Fish egg and Sweet shrimp. These 4 are about ~$20 if you get them separately, but with the Super Deluxe Sushi (A La Carte), you also have a roll, 3 tuna sushi, eel, 1 other fish, and shrimp sushi. With dinner set, you also get fried chicken (x3) , salad (it was good), and soup.
It is a bit pricey. It comes to ~$100 for 2. So i think it should be $$$ instead of $$. But i will be back.
(I was here before for a Deluxe Sushi Dinner. It wasn't quite enough for me that time. (Male, 28). The $9 upgrade to Super Deluxe is certainly worth it.)