Dobra Tea Restaurant Review: Absolutely Delightful!

A few weeks ago, one of our interns stopped by Dobra Tea and couldn’t wait to share her experience with our readers. Dobra Tea describes itself  as a “Bohemian-style” tea house where friends may take time to unwind and bond over tea and light fare.  Each months features several musical and dance performances by local and international artists, as well as belly dancing and tarot-reading lessons. So, what should you know about Dobra Tea?

The Atmosphere: Dobra Tea describes itself as a “Bohemian-style” tea house, though one might say that its interior is more reminiscent of a Turkish tea house. Patrons have the option of either dining in the public dining area or small, raised alcoves partitioned with beaded draperies. The walls are adorned with photographs and painted in shades of coral, cool turquoise, and sunflower yellow.

Patrons have the choice of either reclining on cloud-soft benches that wrap around the length of the alcove; intimately-positioned sofas; or small cushions on the floor that encircle the table.  Traditional patterns are featured as mosaics on both tables and beneath some of the windows.

The dining area is not particularly large, but it does offer patrons the dual experience of creating a quiet, relaxing environment in which one may chat with old friends, yet further the sense of community amongst patrons. The way in which the seating is positioned allows one intimate and private conversations with friends, yet allows a broad view of the restaurant and other patrons. Outside seating has recently been made available.  Rating: 10/10

The Service: The staff at Dobra Tea are exceptionally knowledgeable about their product – quite an impressive considering their selection of over 100 teas! Our server made us feel very welcome and treated us as if we were old friends who had come for a visit. He also was able to expound at length about the history, make, and quality of each tea, and his suggestions were perfectly tailored to both my preferences and those of my friend.  Rating: 10/10

The Tea: I drank the plum tea, which featured small pieces of dried plum mixed throughout. I enjoyed its subtle fusion of sweet and sour, but the pieces of plum distracted me slightly from fully enjoying the flavor. However, I tend to not prefer any fruits  in my beverages (i.e not pieces of fruit in smoothies, no pulp, etc), so this should not pose a problem to most patrons.  

My friend drank the Rooibos Masala tea, which couples cinnamon, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, and orange peel to offer the tongue an initial sweet taste that turns into a kick that challenges even the most heat-resistant palate. The taste was subtle enough that it do not conflict with her hummus and vegetable plate, but distinct enough to leave your mouth both delighted and surprised. I returned several times later with other friends, each of whom could only say good things about their tea of choice. Rating: 10/10

The Food: Dobra Tea offers individual-sized portions of international treats like pita bread and hummus, chocolate medicine balls, fresh fruit, baklava and more. On my first visit, I tried pita Jerusalem, which are thin slices of pita coated in cinnamon – a perfect accompaniment to sweet or spicy teas and a great choice for those who prefer sweet-and-salty treats.  My friend ate a rich, lightly-seasoned hummus with air-light pita and sliced vegetables. The portions are on the smaller side, so it is best to order a plate for each member in your group. 9/10

Affordability: Since it caters to specialty tastes, Dobra Tea’s beverages are somewhat more expensive than at your local coffee shop (anywhere from $4-$8 depending on the ingredients, and then more if you order a kettle of tea versus a single cup). Tea and appetizers for two people should cost only around $25 dollars, which is quite reasonable considering the cozy atmosphere, excellent service, and wide selection of quality teas and appetizers. Rating: 9/10

In short, my experience with Dobra Tea was quite good – the teas were delicious and affordable, the service was excellent, and the atmosphere makes one feel as if one is in a Turkish tea house from hundreds of years ago. I have gone back several times with friends, and their quality of service and fare never fails to delight.

 

Contact:

http://dobrateapgh.com/menu/

 

1937 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

412-449-9833

Monday-Saturday: 10AM – 10 PM

Sunday: 11AM – 7 PM

 

Check out These 10 Superstitions From Asia!

In current times, many people avoid tradition and folklore in lieu of scientific evidence. While some superstitions may seem far-fetched or are rarely practiced, such as avoiding black cats or not rinsing your hair on exam day, these beliefs do offer insight into the history and traditions of different cultures. Check out these 10 cool superstitions from Asia, and please post any other superstitions (with country of origin) in the comment section below!

1.      The word “four” (si) in Chinese is considered unlucky, because if it is pronounced with a different tone, it means “death”  (Source: personal knowledge). The number 8 is considered a very lucky number, because its pronunciation is similar to the word for “lucky” or “fortunate”. In 2003, Sichuan airlines paid 2.3 million yuan in order to reserve the auspicious telephone number 8888-8888 (Source: Economic Times)

 

2.      In some parts of Bhutan, it is considered ill-fortune to sell needles or other sharp, pointy objects after sunset  because it will either shorten your life or cause a dispute (Bhutan Majestic Travel)

3.      If they awake from a bad dream, some Georgians will not speak to anyone until they have brushed their teeth. This is so that the badness from the dream can be cleaned away and the dream will not come true (Falkor ICY)

 

4.      Among the Sinhalese (an ethnic group that compromise about ¾ of Sri Lanka’s population) tt was once popular practice for the new born to be feed golden milk. Here, one would gently grind part of a golden object (such as jewelry) and then mix it with a mother’s breast milk. At a predetermined auspicious time, this is put on the baby’s tongue so that it will prevent disease and ensure a long life ( Folklore and Folkloristics)

5.      The name of the popular Kit Kat chocolate bar is similar to the Japanese phrase for “you will definitely succeed” ( “kitto katsu”). As such, many students will take a Kit Kat bar to a major exam for good luck, or eat one right before the exam starts. Due to its high popularity in Japan, there are over 80 flavors of Kit Kat available (source: Modern Tokyo Times)

6.      In Singapore, individuals may knock on the door of an unoccupied room before entering, so that they will not disturb any spirits that entered the room while they were gone ( Inquirer Lifestyles)

 

7.      It was once in poor taste to compliment babies in Thailand. It was believed that if you said a baby was adorable or lovable, evil spirits would harm the baby or take him away from his parents. Instead, you should remark on the baby’s poor looks and demeanor, so that the parents could keep the child and evil spirits would look elsewhere. To further ensure the baby’s safety, family members wold give children unsavory nicknames, such as “Pig” or “Fat”(Source: Chiang Mai City News)

 

8.      Some believe that if you meet a girl carrying a bucket of water or firewood on her back while you are on a journey of some kind, your mission will be successful. Some Bhutanese consider this to be a bad omen, and will immediately turn back if they encounter the girl (Bhutan: Ways of Knowing)

 

9.      For some Laotians, putting a sharp knife underneath your bed will keep away bad dreams and malevolent spirits (Southeast Asia Resource Action Center)

 

10.  Some Koreans refuse to wash their hair on the day of an important exam or presentation, as they fear it may rinse out important information and memories for the test (TOPICS Online Magazine)

Liangban Huanggua is a Summer Treat That Alawys Delights!

 Summer months mean vacation, sun-kissed glows and a change to unwind from work or school, but summer also means one thing: inescapable heat. Luckily, there are lots of awesome snacks and side dishes that will cool you down, are easy to make, and will even keep your waistline trim! Today we want to share this super simple Chinese recipe for liang ban huang gua, or cold-tossed cucumber salad. There are several ways of preparing, such as spicy, sweet, or sweet and sour, depending on the region and person preferences. Below is the version that one of our summer interns, Taylor tried out with friends – she couldn’t say enough good things about it!

Ingredients

– 2 large cucumbers

– 3 tsp. soy sauce or rice vinegar

– 1 tsp. chili powder

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp. garlic powder or four minced garlic cloves

– 1 tsp. sugar (optional)

– makes about 4 servings

 

1.      Keep cucumbers refrigerated over night. In the morning, peel them an put them into 1-inch cubes.

2.      In a large mixing bowl, mix soy sauce/rice vinegar until each of the cubes is finely coated and sticking.

3.      In a separate bowl, mix together garlic, salt, and chili powder. Then mix with cucumber until evenly coated.

4.      Served chilled

5.      Enjoy!

Below are websites that offer other variations on liang ban huang gua, each more delicious than the last!

ChiChiHeHe: http://chichihehe.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/%E6%B6%BC%E6%8B%8C%E9%BB%83%E7%93%9C-cold-cucumber-salad/

Vegetarian China: http://vegetarian-china.info/

CD Kitchen: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/133/Basil_Cucumber_Salad13258.shtml

SBS Food (originally published in Feast Magazine, June 2012): http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/15356/Spicy_cucumber_salad_%28sichuan_liang_ban_huanggua%29

Balance an Egg Tomorrow at Noon If You Want a Year of Good Fortune!

Tomorrow is the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival! Along with commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, many Chinese and Taiwanese citizens like to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival in order to promote a sense of community, entertainment, bring good luck for the new year and snack on tasty zong zi. Along with wearing an herbal sachet to ward of bad spirits and hanging calamus leaves and pictures of Zhong Kui in their homes, Chinese citizens have another popular Dragon Boat Festival tradition: balancing eggs. If you balance a raw egg upright at precisely 12:00 PM on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, you will have good fortunate for a whole year. Tomorrow morning, shortly before 12:00 PM, we’ll be posting a reminder about egg balancing – please feel free to not only balance eggs with us at 12:00, but also send us pictures of your eggs! Good luck and may you receive good fortune!

If you want like to read Silk Screen’s article about the Dragon Boat Festival or read accounts about egg-balancing, the following sites are a good start:

 

Silk Screen: https://silkscreenfestivalblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/are-you-celebrating-this-years-chinese-dragon-boat-festival/

Want China Time: http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20110606000138&cid=1803

Taipei Times:  http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2012/06/24/2003536134

Recipe for the Dragon Festival Favorite, ZongZi

This year’s Dragon Boat Festival is still a little far away (June 12), but we to give you enough time to find all of the ingredients for today’s recipe, zongzi. Zongzi are relatively easy to make, and are a common dish at the Dragon Boat Festival, for many believe that townspeople threw zongzi into the river to keep fish from eating the body of Qu Yuan. In essence, zongzi are composed of sticky rice and a combination of other fillings, from red beans to corn and pork, all wrapped in a bamboo leaf.  Today’s recipe from Eating China will surely make your mouth water!

Ingredients

          40 large bamboo leaves, dried

          2 lb. long grain sticky rice (must be glutinous rice)

          4 lb. pork belly, sliced and cubed

          10 salted duck egg yolks

          40 dried shiitake black mushrooms

          20 chestnuts, dried and shelled

          10 spring onions, chopped

          2  ¼ cup dried radish

          ½ cup small dried shrimp

          7/8 cup of shelled peanuts with skin

          5 cloves garlic, crushed

          1 tsp. black pepper

          2 star anise

          1 ½ tsp. sugar

          1 tsp. five spice powder

          ½ cup soy sauce

          ¼ cup rice wine

          Vegetable oil

 

1.      Soak rice for three hours. Drain

2.      Let mushrooms soak in a separate bowl until tender. Remove salt and chop into halves or thirds.

3.      In a separate pan, stir fry the pork until it is lightly browned, and then add in chestnuts, rice wine, soy sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, the star anise the the five spice powder. Let this boil and then simmer for 1 hour. Afterwards, remove the pork and chestnuts and set them aside.

4.      In a separate pan, boil the peanuts for 30 -60 minutes, or until they are tender.

5.      Cut the duck yolks in half and then set them aside.

6.      Finely chopy the dried radish, stir fry with the sugar and garlic. Stir fry shrimp and onions until tender

7.      In a large mixing bowl, add in rice, peanuts, radishes, onions, 2 tsbp. Oil, shrimp and some liquid from the stew. Mix thoroughly

8.      Allow the bamboo to soak for five minutes in warm water, then rinse with cold water.

9.      Wet the string so that they are easier to tie and bend.

10.  Position the leaves on a plate or counter top so that their tips are pointing in the same direction, with the tip of one leaf overlapping the curved end of the other leaf.

11.  Use both hands to bend the leaves approximately 2/3rds along the length of their spines, so that they form a

12.  Mix in rice, pork, mushrooms, egg yolk, and chestnuts. Firmly press with a spoon, and fold the leaves over the top of the zongzi. Once the leaves are secured, tie them as you would a shoelace. They should have a pyramid shape.

13.  Steam the zongzi for one hour, unwrap from the bamboo leaves and serve.


If you want to see other zongzi recipes or learn more about the Chinese Dragon Festival, the following sites are a great start:

 

Eating China ( where today’s recipe came from): http://eatingchina.com/recipes/zongzi.htm

The Hong Kong Cookery: http://www.thehongkongcookery.com/2012/07/zong-zi-rice-dumpling.html

Serious Eats: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/05/how-to-make-joong-zong-zi-chinese-pork-stuffed-glutinous-rice-bundles.html

Travel China Guide: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/dragon-boat.htm