There are pros and cons to living on the margins of the Pittsburgh city limits. I pay about a third the rent that I would for a comparable apartment in Shadyside, while living in just as convenient proximity to all East End and North bank attractions. City of Pittsburgh proper is so close it occupies most of the view outside my front window, and yet there remains that one little river in between us, a simple geographical phenomenon that strikes so much consternation into the hearts of city dwellers. Why is it so daunting to cross a river in this city?
The river provides the biggest obstacle, it seems, to food delivery services. Sure, there are pizza delivery places everywhere, but that would entail wanting to order a pizza. My tastes have matured beyond delivery pizza in all but the rarest circumstances (i.e. those where the pizza is free and alternate food options are limited). The City of Pittsburgh is special case in the diversity of food delivery options, as it boasts the (as far as I know) unique service of Wheel Deliver and its more recent competitor/clone Meals Delivered which coordinate the delivery of food from multiple restaurants through a centralized dispatch/driver service. A fabulous service… for people who live within the delivery range. You have to draw the line somewhere, and the Allegheny river is the most convenient place to draw that line. Highland Park? Sure! Across the bridge? Sorry.
The other common delivery option available most places outside the city is hole-in-wall Chinese restaurant food, which has a somewhat dubious appeal. I’m rarely if ever desperate enough for delivery that I would resort to Chinese food (give me almost any other cuisine in Eurasia before Americanized Chinese restaurant food), and so I almost didn’t take a second look when a postcard flier for Hong Kong Taste showed up amidst my junk mail a few months back… but then I caught sight of its glossy photos of sushi.
Sushi… free delivery… in Etna?! Could it be true? While Chinese restaurants that serve sushi are just as dubiously Americanized as anything else, the fact remained, with the advent of Hong Kong Taste, I was now officially a resident within a sushi delivery zone!
It just so happened over the weekend that a sushi craving coincided with a lazy Sunday. I debated whether I would be better served taking a quick trip to Whole Foods, my usual go to place for eat-at-home sushi, but the temptation of making an easy delivery call on a chilly winter day coupled with the appeal of supporting a local business tipped the scales and I decided to place an order with Hong Kong Taste.
I checked out their menu online and decided on three rolls, the Spicy Tuna roll, the Alaska roll and the Spicy Yellowtail roll. I probably should have opted for some nigri pieces in lieu of one roll, as the different types of rolls ended up being barely distinguishable, but I wanted to make sure I got a fairly filling meal for what I estimated would be about twenty bucks all told. The sushi prices at Hong Kong Taste are comparatively cheap (average of $4.99 for an eight piece roll), but it’s still sushi—you’re not going to get a burgeoning belly for pocket change.
So, I called up Hong Kong Taste at six o’clock to order my rolls and was promised a wait of thirty minutes to an hour. My rolls came on time at quarter to seven along with plenty of wasabi and ginger and several fortune cookies. Soy sauce, too, but I used my own low sodium soy sauce instead.
Finally, the moment of truth… the sushi was good. It’s not the world’s most phenomenal or revolutionary sushi. Nothing especially unique or creative, just good, basic, fresh sushi. As I said above, the rolls proved to be very similar, save for the dusting of roe on the Alaska roll, but that was partly my fault for ordering three such similar dishes. If I had ordered some nigri pieces, I would have had more to comment on, but as it was, I had a tasty and filling sushi dinner that came to $20, inclusive of tip.
Would I order from Hong Kong Taste again? Sure. Will it be my new go to place for take home sushi? Probably not, simply from a price standpoint. If I’m out and about in the city or ambitious enough to drive out to Whole Foods, I would probably opt to get sushi there, simply because I can get just as many pieces of sushi inclusive of nigri and rolls for about the same price and maybe a little less. The clear advantage of Hong Kong Taste is the delivery option, since when you consider tip and tax, you end up paying $20 for $15 worth of sushi, but that’s the nature of delivery, after all. You pay extra for the convenience of delivery, and if sushi’s what your craving, then Hong Kong Taste is a great place to do it.