Brunch Buddies: Bangkok Balcony

Full disclosure: tThe majority of The Tartan staff is under 21, so bars, unfortunately, aren't an option for us to continue with Bar Buddies. For the first edition of the new year and semester, we decided to start exploring other cool restaurants and places in Pittsburgh that offer not just drinks but also some pretty good food. For our first newly regular Brunch Buddies, we decided to break away from some traditional brunch conventions and head down to Bangkok Balcony, a solid Squirrel Hill favorite.

The location: As previously mentioned, Bangkok Balcony is located in Squirrel Hill, right in the middle of the upper Forbes Avenue addresses. There are a lot of Asian restaurants in Squirrel Hill, but Bangkok Balcony stands out because of its setup; as befitting its name, Bangkok Balcony's front door opens to a flight of stairs that lead you to the restaurant, located above an Asian supermarket. Its neon lights and signs make the restaurant look cool and trendy, yet approachable and easy to walk into if you're simply strolling down Forbes Avenue looking for a place to eat.

The food: We both ordered some of Bangkok Balcony's lunch specials, and I (Izzy) also ordered an appetizer: steamed pork and shrimp dumplings. The dumplings were hot, fresh, and had a bit of a homey flavor to them that was surprisingly comforting. It stayed even after the dumplings had dried out after a few minutes as we were talking during brunch. The Pad See Ew lunch special looked kind of small when I first got it, but its flavor made up for its size. Additionally, you could also adjust the spice level of the food: while we both ordered our food at the lowest spice level possible, it did not seem to change the flavor that much at all for the Pad See Ew, and when I was nearly finished I was tempted to order another small portion to take home.

I (Michelle) ordered the green curry with rice, and to be honest, it's one of my favorite things on the menu. I went to Bangkok Balcony for the first time this summer, and my friend had me try the curry when she ordered that time. The flavor of the curry was just so unique, where you can taste the sweetness of the coconut milk with a little bit of spice. The chicken was very tender, and that helped contrast with the crunchiness of the snow peas, broccoli, and green beans. Although both our main dishes took a while to come, I think the wait was definitely worth it.

The lunch specials each come with a soup, salad, and a spring roll.

The vibe: The restaurant was surprisingly not very crowded when we went, which was around 1 p.m. on a Saturday. The waiters basically seated all the customers by the huge window, so half of the restaurant had people sitting and eating and the other half was pretty much empty. Overall, the vibe of the place was very relaxed because there weren't many people, which was great for brunch/lunch time.

Lit or nah: I don't think you'll find a very upbeat and lively environment by going to Bangkok Balcony for lunch on a weekend. Even though there's a nice bar, most of the customers around this time were having very casual conversations over lunch, with a nice glass of wine on the side for some. Maybe around dinnertime there's more of a night life, but for the most part, Bangkok Balcony gave off more classy vibes than anything else.