Thursday, February 18, 2021

Mexican restaurant coming to Greenfield in the former home of Bill Ung's Tea Garden and the "best egg rolls in Pittsburgh."


Signage recently went up at 4371 Murray Ave. (map) in Greenfield for Audrina's Mexican Grille. This Mexican restaurant will be the latest in a long line of international restaurants, most recently Hamsah Mediterranian Grille, Babylon Cuisine, and Ethnic Foods. For several decades, though, it was the home of Bill Ung's Tea Garden and the self-proclaimed "best egg rolls in Pittsburgh."
June 26, 1986 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Ung name will be familiar to historians of Chinese restaurants in Pittsburgh. Bill Ung's brother, Charlie, owned operated Charles Ung's Tea Garden in East Liberty from 1967 to 2000. Before that, their father ran the Tea Garden Restaurant in Homewood.
Advertisement in the December 30, 1949 Post-Gazette for the Tea Garden's new location; it was at 7219 Kelly St. before that.

Bill Ung's Tea Garden is of no relation to the Canton Tea Garden, the area's first Chinese restaurant that opened in 1934. A 1971 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article discusses that point and the impending sale of the Greenfield restaurant:
I recently spoke to Bill Ung, owner of Bill Ung's Tea Garden restaurant in Squirrel Hill. For years the Ung family operated one of the city's first and best known Cantonese restaurants, the old Kelly Street Tea Garden in homewood. That original tea garden has been closed for a long time but two sons, Bill and Charles Ung, have kept up the business by operating separate surviving tea gardens in the Squirrel Hill-Greenfield area and East Liberty.

Ung was concerned that the public might be confusing his restaurant with one using a similar name on another part of Murray Avenue had [sic] been cited by health inspectors as unclean.

. . .

During the conversation, Ung also reported he is selling his restaurant to a chef from a Downtown Chinese restaurant, stressing the possible name problem had nothing to do with the sale.
The restaurant closed in 1997 when Jew Soon "Sam" Wong, who bought it in 1977, retired. From the 2005 obituary for Mr. Wong:
Eventually, the Tea Garden, which advertised itself as offering "the best egg rolls in Pittsburgh," enabled Mr. Wong to send his four children to the University of Pittsburgh.

"They did everything for us kids," said son Ken Wong, of Oakland. "They relied on us to make sure we behaved ourselves and take education seriously."
A Squirrel Hill hot dog shop, Frankie Bunz, sells egg rolls that it claims are inspired by the old Tea Garden recipe and sauces.