Well, I know that after the excitement that was Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, I said we were going to take a break from restaurants for a little bit. But as it turns out, we had our first GroupOn of the year to use, before it expired next week. And so, on a lovely Wednesday night, we braved rush hour traffic to head into the suburbs for Chinese food.
House of Lee has been around for decades now, located right on Ohio River Boulevard at the intersection with Camp Horne Road. Back in the day (before some road closures that have eternally rerouted bits of the North Hills), this place was about five minutes’ drive from my parents’ house, so I remember going here a handful of times as a kid.
I didn’t remember these yummy crispy noodles being delivered to our table as soon as we sat down, but I sure was pleased to have them. They were light and crunchy and came with duck sauce in those big squeezy bottles like the ones where Primantis keeps their ketchup. Yay sauce!
House of Lee is also one of those Chinese restaurants that sets your place with a Chinese Zodiac placemat. Since the Chinese New Year was just celebrated this week, we were super interested to read about all of the different signs. I was born in the year of the dog (is anyone really surprised to hear that??), and Michael was born in the year of the boar. Apparently, we are not the best of love matches according to the Chinese zodiac, but we could have also done worse it seems. I’m supposed to watch out for dragons (sorry, Steve Urkel), but tigers are fair game (so Evgeni Malkin, you can call me any time ::wink::).
I, on the other hand, began my miso soup tour unexpectedly. House of Lee not only has a massive menu of Chinese dishes (and some American favorites, if you’d prefer), but also a full page of sushi options. And since I just can’t pass up an opportunity to try miso soup, I checked it out. It was bursting with chunks of tofu, which I loved, but the flavor of the broth was actually somewhere between a true miso and a wonton soup, which was odd. It was good, but it wasn’t the traditional miso taste that I adore so much. I think the wonton soup that Michael got was the better of the two.
After the soup, we got a round of egg rolls and an order of the puffed shrimp. We were really intrigued by the shrimp (it came down to a decision between those and the crab rangoons), and decided to try them over the rangoons since they were something different. They were good, but they were way too greasy for me to eat more than one. We’re talking greasier-than-a-funnel-cake greasy. Tasty, but more than one or two would have sat in my stomach all night. Michael was pleased with his pork egg roll, but I thought there was a little too much carrot in the shrimp roll. The shrimp pieces were very juicy and large though.
Then it was on to the main course. I think this was the best part of the meal. Michael got the General Tso chicken, which was different from any General Tso we’ve had before. The pieces of chicken were gargantuan. The flavor and breading were spot-on though. I got the moo goo gai pan, which was delicious. The meat was perfectly cooked, the sauce was the ideal thickness, and there were plenty of peas, baby corns, and water chestnuts throughout. It was almost a little too salty, but in that way where it tastes wonderful, and you just pay for it later by being thirsty for hours. I think I’d definitely get either one of these dishes again.
Finally, I had to get an order of the Chinese noodles. This is because waaaaaay back in the 80s, there was this classic Sesame Street clip about making Chinese noodles. This video, in my little mind, was as epic as the crayon factory videos (one from Sesame Street AND one from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, can you imagine the joy we kids of the ’80s had???). So, when my parents took me to House of Lee as a child, all I wanted to do was look at their giant fish tank and eat Chinese noodles. Twenty-some years later, I did the same thing. Except this time, I drank a Singapore sling with my Chinese noodles. (That’s the part they didn’t show on Sesame Street.)
House of Lee was a pretty decent place to have dinner. The interior is super cute and welcoming, and our server was very nice. Unfortunately, I hold all Chinese restaurants in Pittsburgh to the incredibly high, nearly-unreachable standard set by the Great Wall on Perry Highway (we’ll have to visit it for the blog at some point), so I can’t say that I would necessarily return here if we were having suburban Chinese food. However, if you live in Bellevue, Emsworth, or Ben Avon, House of Lee is quite close and a good choice for dinner. They also now have delivery. For me, it was a nice blast from the past, and I have some delicious moo goo gai pan leftovers for lunch!