When the Sun Penang Thai and Chinese restaurant closed its doors, the Squirrel Hill community was pleased to see the vacant spot filled with something “magical.” The Magic Noodle has recently opened on the copious Forbes Avenue and brings family homemade dishes from Shanghai and Chengdu to Pittsburgh.
The recipes found at the Magic Noddle trace back to JieJie Chen and his family’s creations while operating a noodle house in his hometown of Shanghai. Chen would then bring his dishes to Pittsburgh, where he met his wife, Michelle, to pursue his dream of opening a signature noodle house in America. While he focuses on the cooking, Michelle is the brains behind the operation by providing new ideas to enhance their shared passion for food and culture. According to waitress and cousin of JieJie, Gina Chen-Bao, “At its core, The Magic Noodle is here to bring people authentic, good-tasting food. Working as a family means we are happy to come to every day and serve our customers as well as engage with them as a part of the community.”
While the Magic Noodle is a new business in the Squirrel Hill area, it has a well-polished menu and a tremendous overhaul compared its predecessor and other Chinese restaurants that have opened locally the past few years. The open and welcoming atmosphere offers seating for over 50 including an outside front patio and a bar. The menu offers a variety of Chinese appetizers, soups, stews, stir fry, and desserts.
The overall environment, food choices, and family ran business separates the Magic Noodle from other traditional noodle houses across the local scene. “The Magic Noodle wants to explore authentic Chinese flavors creatively. For example, our signature noodles come with YangChun noodles (a thin noodle from Shanghai) but also, we are testing how we can incorporate the texture of the Western fettuccine noodles with Eastern flavors. Our appetizers are unique in this way as well, showcasing more complex and developed flavors of some Shanghai and Chengdu street food,” said Chen-Bao about what makes the Magic Noodle unique.
Local was fortunate enough to sit down and try some of the signature dishes of the Magic Noodle. The Fried Rice Dumpling Bowl is the perfect way to start off the meal as an appetizer. They are beautifully displayed like a tasty rose bush and are covered with a spicy mayo for additional flavor. For the main course, the Magic Noodle offered a homemade Stir-Fry, which perfectly combines a sweet and spicy soy based sauce mixed together with their signature noodles, bok choy, and the option to choose from chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, or mixed vegetables. Lastly, for dessert the Red Jade Crispy Rice Bun as well as the Taro Balls Jelly Bowl is an excellent choice for sweets after the meal. The rice bun has a warm and crunchy outside with a soft inside that is topped with a brown sugar seasoning for good measure. This compliments the jelly bowl well, as its fruity and chewy flavors are served in a chilled cream based drink.
In a highly crowded area such as Squirrel Hill, which is flooded with numerous restaurants, Local highly recommends the Magic Noodle. The Chinese influenced dishes and generous hospitality of the family ran staff has the perfect recipe to make your experience magical. Chen-Bao has plenty of positive things to say about the selected neighborhood which they decided to start their family legacy in America. “Squirrel Hill has great cultural diversity— this is one of the places where people come to eat foods from all over the world without leaving Pittsburgh. We want to be a part of and contribute to the Squirrel Hill community as well, which is full of people from all walks of life.”