Last night I headed to Chaya in Squirrel Hill (2104 Murray Ave) to quench a sushi craving that had been building all week. I grabbed an old sushi-luvin’ friend and we were off. (Edit: Chaya has since moved to 2032 Murray Ave. I have not yet been to the new location but word is the place is bigger and still serving good stuff).
The place is small. We arrived about 7:00PM on a Friday and waited maybe 10 minutes for a table. Those arriving behind us were not so lucky. The teeny tiny waiting space quickly filled and people were likely waiting a half hour or more by the time we left. In addition, I had no idea the place was BYO! Many people had wine. The menu also encouraged bringing beer or sake. I believe they had a per stem charge of $2 or so.
The menu is extensive. The table beside us was excited to see octopus on the menu. There is a full dinner menu as well as a sushi menu (including some specialty rolls). I usually don’t order sushi boats or dinners – however, the prospect of the salad, soup, etc sounded good, so I went for it. I ordered the sushi dinner – $15 . It came with salad, soup and ‘fried chicken’. Fried chicken?
The salad was a small bowl of nice mixed greens with a glob of that glorious ginger dressing on top. No forks here people. I dug right in. Next came the ‘fried chicken’. Three fried chunks were served in a basket with a lemon wedge on the side. The chicken was definitely dark meat and the chunks kind of reminded me of chicken nuggets – I didn’t finish mine. Definitely something different – at least for me.
Next came a decent cup/bowl of miso soup. There were some nice chunks of tofu in there, which I appreciated. Shortly thereafter, the sushi arrived. My regular sushi dinner came with one crab and avocado roll and about 8 pieces of nigiri (tuna, white fish, salmon, shrimp – the standards). Plenty of food for me. My partner got the ‘deluxe sushi – $20 – he had an extra small roll of some sort as well as a few more pieces of nigiri, including eel. Everything tasted great and was served at a good temperature – not hot, not cold. Considering the place was packed, the prospect of the fish turning over quickly (and you getting something nice and fresh) is promising and comforting. This was tasty sushi.
I do not believe Chaya takes reservations. Be prepared to possibly wait on a Friday or Saturday night. Service was friendly. I will definitely return – can’t wait to show The Boy this new find when he gets back!
On another note, I had no idea Murray Ave would be so hopping on a Friday night. There were people everywhere! I spotted tons of little bakeries, pizza shops, etc, that I would love to explore.