Pijiu Belly brings spice for a nice price

Photo by Tyler Meuter

Across from Tenside Apartments and not too far from West Campus, the bar-and-restaurant Pijiu Belly brings a fusion of American and Asian cuisines to 10th Street. Pijiu Belly opened its doors in December of 2014 and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Parking is available in the restaurant’s lot, though it fills quickly.

A friendly college atmosphere permeates the restaurant with its stylish decor. Old doors are re-purposed as dinner tables, posters line the walls, and drinks are served in tall mason jars. Classic rock plays while patrons have fun playing games in the restaurant. Featuring darts, foosball, tabletop shuffleboard and even an arcade machine loaded with multiple games, the restaurant entertains while the food cooks behind the frosted glass of the kitchen.

To start off the meal, appetizers include Thai tater tots and fried pimento cheese sticks, both topped with srira-mayo, and pork dumplings dunked in ginger-soy sauce.

In addition to the classic All-American burger, the menu also includes burgers and sandwiches with an Asian twist. The Pijiu Burger has kimchi and sriracha, and the Roast Pork Belly uses a sweet peach-hoisin sauce.

“My mouth is loving every bite of this burger,” fifth-year CS Alex O’Connor says, describing the Pijiu Burger. “It’s a unique flavor: barbecue, sriracha, and kimchi with a fried egg. I’m going home and collapsing in a food coma.”

Their featured dish is the Famous Rotisserie Chicken, which is roasted for several hours, has a dry rub and crispy skin and is in limited supply each day. The restaurant also serves chicken and pork yakitori skewers, bulgogi bowls and ramen. Regardless of meat choice, patrons can expect a spicy meal, from sriracha and hot sauce to the burning, flavorful blends of spices that top each dish.

Side dishes come with some of the meals and include spicy kimchi, Brussels sprouts and cilantro-lime rice. Arugala, kale and garden salads with optional grilled chicken round off the dinner menu.

For those with a craving for sweets and room in their stomachs, Pijiu Belly features three dessert cakes: Yuzu-Lime Cheesecake, Salted Caramel Crunch Cake, and the aptly named “Big A** Chocolate Cake,” which is a slice of a seven-layered monster. These are best split between two people.

For the 21 and over crowd, the front-and-center bar offers a wide variety of cocktails and, of course, pijiu — Mandarin for “beer.” There are imported Asian-style beers, pijiu on tap and bottled as well as canned brews.

The general crowd grows as the evening waxes, with families playing darts and competition arising at the foosball table. Everything is priced reasonably: $10–13 large meals, $6 skewers, $5–7 beers, and $10–12 mixed drinks. The wait staff is friendly, making SpongeBob jokes and chatting as they stop by.

Anyone looking for good, affordable, spicy food and fun with friends should come to Pijiu Belly.

Our Take: 4.5/5 stars