The What: Noodlehead in Shadyside has opened at 242 S. Highland Ave. earlier this month, by the Tongdee family and Michael Johnson of Pusadee's Garden in Lawrenceville. The family and Mr. Johnson are familiar with this space, having run Typhoon there until it closed in April 2011.
Open 12 to 10 p.m., the cash-only BYO noodle house encourages dining in, as there's no phone for call-in orders.
The Menu: Patrons can order more intense heat here than what's available at Pusadee's Garden. With a 1 to 5 index, a 4 that's "Thai hot" is an adventure.
Snack noodles ($6) are a serving for one, such as the Sukothai rice noodles with roast pork, peanuts, green beans, cilantro and chili peppers in pork broth, with pork rinds for garnish.
Other menu options include $9 noodles (no substitutions), such as street noodles No. 1 with rice noodles, Thai fried chicken, bok choy and cilantro; or street noodles No. 2 with an egg and shrimp variation.
Kee mao ($9) with rice noodles and basil or See yew with egg, soy, and broccoli allow for shrimp, chicken or tofu variety.
Pork belly steamed buns and pig wings are best sellers, the latter of which is a piece from the shank making its way on bar menus everywhere. Formerly known as pork hammers or sluggers, pig wings can be doctored to assimilate to just about any culture's cuisine.
If you'd prefer traditional wings, try the garlic nam-pla ($5) here. They are a more flavorful bet than the Thai fried chicken, boneless cutlets to dip in a variety of sauces.
The decor: Weathered letters announce the location of Noodlehead. Chalk art, a modest buddha, and wood paneling evokes a mountain lodge vibe. Grab a seat at the bar near the door for a chat with the staff and a peek into the goings-on in the kitchen. During my visit, a server wiped tears from his eyes after a bite of level five noodles. "For as long as I work here, I'm never getting sick this winter," he said. "All this spice will keep germs away."
Melissa McCart photos