A Second Chengdu Gourmet is in the Works
Look for executive chef/owner Wei Zhu to open a North Hills location of his celebrated restaurant early next year.
Wei Zhu recently signed a lease to open a second location of his much-lauded Chengdu Gourmet restaurant. The 6000-square-foot restaurant will be located in the former Oriental Market space on McKnight Road in Ross Township.
It’ll mark a return to the North Hills for Zhu, who worked as a chef/partner at the now-closed China Star in McCandless about a decade ago. Zhu says that he felt there aren’t many outstanding Chinese food options for diners in that part of town (Ting’s Kitchen, which now operates in the former China Star location, is a good choice). So he jumped at the opportunity to expand north.
He’s keeping the Squirrel Hill style location open and will bring in another chef from China to help him run the new kitchen; Zhu will split time between the two locations. “It won’t be a challenge to run two places. I’m bringing a top chef from China, and I’ll be able to train him further here, too,” Zhu says, via a translator.
Zhu opened Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill in late 2014 and has earned significant acclaim for his outstanding Sichuan cooking, including yearly inclusion on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants list since 2016 and four selections as a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category at the James Beard Awards.
Zhu says the menus at the two Chengdu Gourmet locations largely will overlap but, he adds, “This new location will have some special dishes that are just for here.”
There will be two significant distinctions: Zhu plans to install tanks that will allow him to sell fresh-as-can-be fish and shellfish, and he’ll offer an expanded selection of Americanized-Chinese dishes (which were dialed-back in Squirrel Hill a few years ago) to better serve North Hills diners new to Sichuan cuisine.
The ample space will offer expanded seating, including two private dining rooms, a sushi counter and, as Zhu has acquired a liquor license for the new restaurant, a bar. “It’s going to be a much bigger restaurant. Everyone will be happy when they come here,” Zhu says.
Zhu plans to open Chengdu Gourmet 2 in January.