You can now send your taste buds on a Hawaiian vacation at Federal Galley.
Shaka, an island-inspired eatery offering poke bowls, pho noodle soups, salads and snacks, is the latest concept to pop up at the North Side restaurant incubator.
Fresh off her stint at Smallman Galley, where she ran the popular Vietnamese sandwich spot Banhmilicious, chef Summer Le is making a splash with a new menu that’s a fusion of Asian and Polynesian cuisines. The dishes are flavorful and beautiful, filled with fresh, colorful ingredients. Each bite is like a luau at the end of a fork.
Start your tropical lunch break at the pop-up with Hawaiian egg rolls filled with pulled pork, onions, pineapple, cabbage and teriyaki sauce.
The spicy salmon or tuna poke bowls come with your choice of steamed rice, mixed greens or both. Then Le adds edamame, roe, seaweed salad, nori, shallot chips and much more.
“I wanted to have a good balance of acidity, textures and that wow-flavor from the wasabi and fermented Korean pepper,” she says of the dish.
Brunch is served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes spicy smoked salmon toast, breakfast Spam musubi and a Hawaiian brunch sandwich (with Kalua pulled pork, fried egg and avocado on sourdough).
Le named her concept Shaka, which is a surf culture hand gesture meaning “hang loose,” because she feels the food creates a laid-back, friendly vibe.
“It’s very casual and that’s what Galley Group is all about,” she says. “It’s a relaxed environment and it’s very upbeat.”
The chef was born and spent part of her childhood in South Vietnam.
Through various careers, including work as a microbiologist, a chemist and a quality inspector for Del Monte Foods, she traveled around the U.S., trying different restaurants along the way. She eventually decided to take a leap of faith and follow her culinary passion.
She opened Banhmilicious to give Pittsburghers an authentic taste of her homeland. The concept was a hit with Smallman Galley patrons. When the eatery ended its run at the Strip District food hall, she took a trip to Hawaii to unwind, learn from local chefs and perfect her take on the poke bowl.
Shaka will remain at Federal Galley for at least one year. After that, Le hopes to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant that’ll feature a rotating menu of Asian cuisines.
“We always want to improve upon our menu,” she says. “Maybe I’ll kick up the flavor a bit and work from there.”