We're lucky enough to have friends across the globe, so when we visit them we get taken to all the best local places!
Conflict kitchen has a genius idea: serve food from a country that the US is currently in conflict with.
Luckily for them, the US always seems to be in conflict with someone so they are always open and their menu is able to change every few months. When we went, the menu was based around traditional food from North Korea. There was a very friendly man who was keen to open his little window to take our order despite it being -6°C outside. He informed us that they actually visit each country they do a menu from and talk to the locals to get their recipes. We don’t personally know a North Korean to vouch that the menu is an accurate representation of their homeland, but Casey has been to South Korea and he recognised (and got excited about) a few things on the menu. They also have leaflets available which fold out to become a giant infograph telling us all about North Korea. So good food and educational. How fitting that this little eatery is positioned right in front of Pittsburgh University’s Cathedral of Learning. Coincidence? I think not. Students can take a break from their studies and continue to exercise their brains as they exercise their jaws.
NB: We went in January which is probably not the best time to come. There is no indoor seating but luckily we were able to grab our food once it was ready and run into a nearby university building and eat it there.
SO… what did we have?
I had the Manduguk which is a vegetable dumpling soup. The vegetables were mashed up inside the dumpling and the rest was egg noodles and broth. The dumplings were really tasty, and I don’t think they can buy them ready-made so I’m going to go ahead and presume that they’re fresh. They certainly tasted that way. I would have liked more vegetables instead of egg noodles, but as someone who has lived in a hungry country before I am aware of how North Koreans might not be able to afford the luxury of many vegetables in their diet, so I’ll let them off.
I love the idea of this place. I had no idea what North Korean dishes were all about. Were they similar to South Korean? Kimchee? Spicy sauces? Yep. I actually recognized my favorite name of all the school lunches I had in Japan. Bibimbop. The Japanese students called it a Korean dish. I assumed it was South Korean, but I assumed wrong. So I ordered the Bibimbop, and sung the name in my head over and over again to ‘Mmm Bop’ by Hanson.
It was good as a rice dish with different veggies on top. I remember the school lunch version had strips of egg in it, and less veggies. I was hoping for that, but it is not like that at the conflict kitchen. Either North Korea does not have chickens, or Japan messed it up. I also expected everything to be authentically North Korean. Again, wrong. The to-go containers were actually great quality. So, we kept them.
I would not order this for my last meal. I enjoyed it for a quick lunch, but not for gut busting decadance. I also do not want Hanson to be my last thought before I die.