Asia Meets Squirrel Hill: Chengdu Gourmet.

Squirrel Hill is known for a couple things – the Jewish culture and the Asian cuisine. Among the sea of options, continue onto Murray and turn onto Forward Avenue and you’ll find Chengdu Gourmet.IMG_1569

It’s funny, I’ve lived in Squirrel Hill for years and have walked the streets a hundred times, but somehow this place flew under my radar until a friend recommended it – and I’m really glad she did.

Home of James Beard nominee, Chef Wei Zhu, Chengdu Gourmet is a Chinese restaurant known for their modern style on classic dishes with fresh ingredients. Owner/Chef Wei Zhu moved to Pittsburgh from Chengdu, China and started his culinary journey at Szechuan Gourmet on Murray Avenue. Years later he opened Chengdu Gourmet.

At age 16 he started cooking and baking. His father was a baker, but Zhu always preferred cooking and decided to peruse his passion. He specializes in Sichuan cuisine which involves an abundance of spices and menu items that have an extra kick of temperature.IMG_1566

We took our seats and our waitress handed each of us two different menus. I was warned about the initial confusion of the two menus. One is the American menu and the other the Sichuan menu that also includes the daily specials. If you’re feeling daring or enjoy food with sharp flavor and texture, choose the Sichuan menu.

I came to dinner prepared. I inquired with a seasoned veteran’s favorite picks and took them for a whirl. I chatted with a couple of my dinner guests and we agreed to split an entree and an appetizer.

Considering the high accreditation I had heard about the chef, I thought a chef special was a good way to go. We ordered a dish called the Happy Family. A dish made to feed two or three people, composed of jumbo shrimp, chicken breast, beef, pork and scallops stir-fried with vegetables in a special brown sauce. A huge dish of everything arrived. Each forkful I scooped up a little bit of everything for maximum flavor. The shrimp was jumbo as promised and the sauce added a balanced taste.IMG_1568 (2)

In addition to the entree, we ordered the highly recommended double cooked sliced pork belly appetizer. I have to say – this was some of the best pork I’ve ever had. It was bursting with flavor and I’ve never had pork sliced in such a fashion. I couldn’t get enough. I know we said we would share the appetizer, but there wasn’t a lot of sharing on my end.

Across the table, another friend ordered an entertaining dish – the spicy chicken in a literal flaming pan. Served in a bowl with flames below the chicken was hot and spiced up with peppers, onions and seasonings.

If you’re feeling lazy or short on time, you also have the luxury to order the Sichuan cuisine online and have it delivered to your doorstep.

The food was authentic and I enjoyed having so many options. Don’t let a new type of food stop you from trying Chengdu Gourmet because there’s something for everyone.

Experience Pittsburgh, One Bite at a Time.

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