Sesame Inn, Popular Pittsburgh

Since Pittsburgh welcomed the Sesame Inn into its dining scene, it has garnered many accolades both from diners and restaurant critics. I first visited the Sesame Inn several years ago, and after that initial experience, I left feeling sure that all those awards were well deserved. Since then, I’ve returned to the Sesame Inn so often, that I am on a first-name basis with much of the staff.

I frequent the Sesame Inn located at 711 Browns Lane, just off McKnight Road in Ross Township. My dining partner and I are always greeted warmly upon our arrival at the hostess station.

The restaurant features four dining areas. Closest to the entrance is the bar and sushi bar section, which showcases the colorful and intricately crafted sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls. The cozy bar has a television and friendly bartenders.

Ornate umbrellas suspended from the ceiling decorate the main dining section. I like the upbeat rhythm of this section, watching the servers weaving their way back and forth from the kitchen.

Past the main dining area, next to the windows, is an elevated section that overlooks the rest of the restaurant. I love to alternate between watching the activity of the dining area and gazing at a beautiful evening sky through the floor to ceiling windows.

During this particular visit, we were seated in a separate room off the main floor. This area is more serene. Beautiful paintings and bamboo shoots placed on the tables add to the room’s charm and peaceful vibe.

A few minutes after being seated we are served tea and water by the friendly staff. Our server welcomed us back, and then continued a conversation we had started a month earlier. My companion and I ordered a strawberry daiquiri and scotch and water, respectively. We chose Crab Rangoon for our appetizer.

Deciding what to order for an entrée at the Sesame Inn can be difficult. Everything I’ve ordered in the past has been delicious. I studied the large and varied menu. Should I stick with the tried and true or venture into new territory? The Bride and Groom, with its strips of fried beef and chicken, corn, snow pea pods, and green bell peppers in a brown sauce is tremendous. The Mu Shi chicken is made with cabbage, mushrooms, eggs, scallions, and bamboo shoots, and comes with pancakes. It’s a fun dish. Always a favorite, the Amazing Chicken consists of lightly breaded chicken with a sauce that, as it boasts, is nothing short of amazing.

After listening to recommendations from our waiter, we decided on the Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and the Lemon Chicken. When you’re at a restaurant you trust, it’s always exciting to order entrees and appetizers you’ve never had before.

I had never attempted to use chopsticks before this visit, but this time I challenged myself and took on the challenge. My membership in the chopstick club didn’t last long. After a few uncoordinated attempts, I abandoned them, crossing them from my bucket list of things to try, but I consoled myself by taking fork in hand and diving into the tantalizing dish sitting before me.

Both the Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and Lemon Chicken were delectable, as was our appetizer. The shrimp was undoubtedly fresh and the lobster sauce expertly prepared. Similarly, the Lemon Chicken was delicious, and it came with an additional small bowl of the mouth-watering lemon sauce for the diner who can’t get enough of the lemony flavor.

From the friendly, knowledgeable staff to the inviting ambiance of the restaurant to the food (especially the food) I have come to regard myself as a fan of the Sesame Inn. To date, I’ve sampled only a small portion of their menu. I’ve yet to try the sushi or anything from the Thai section of the menu, but I’ll be back. And I look forward to working my way through the menu.

As a repeat diner at the Sesame Inn, I’ve learned a few things along the way that you may find helpful if you’ve never been there.

  • When I visit the Sesame Inn, I plan to take half of my entree home. Portions are generous.
  • During my first few visits, I asked about spice levels regardless of what the menu said until I was comfortable with what their level of spiciness meant.
  • Never visit the Sesame Inn when you don’t have the time to sit back and enjoy your meal. The meal is served in courses and is meant to be savored.
  • Don’t dither on where you want to be seated. I know that no matter where I am seated in the restaurant, I’m going to have a fine and memorable dining experience.