W.ei Zhu recently signed a lease to open a second location in its acclaimed Chengdu gourmet restaurant. The 6,000-square-foot restaurant will be located in the former Oriental Market on McKnight Road in Ross Township.
It will mean a return to the North Hills for Zhu, who worked as a cook / partner at the now-closed China Star in McCandless about a decade ago. Zhu says that this part of town doesn’t have a lot of great Chinese food for diners (Ting’s Kitchen, which now operates in the former China Star location, is a good choice). So he took the opportunity to expand north.
He is keeping the location open in the style of Squirrel Hill and will bring in another chef from China to help him run the new kitchen. Zhu will split the time between the two locations. “It won’t be a challenge to drive two places. I bring a top chef from China with me and can train him here, ”says Zhu about a translator.
Zhu opened Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill in late 2014 and has become known for its outstanding Sichuan cuisine, including being included in Pittsburgh Magazine’s annual list of Best Restaurants since 2016 and four semi-finalist selections in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic im category James Beard Awards.
Zhu says the menus at the two Chengdu gourmet locations will largely overlap, but adds, “This new location will have some special dishes that are just for here.”
There will be two major differences: Zhu plans to install tanks that will allow him to sell fish and shellfish as fresh as possible, and he will offer an expanded selection of American-Chinese dishes (which were recalled in Squirrel.). Hill a few years ago) to better serve North Hills diners who are new to Sichuan cuisine.
The spacious room offers expanded seating, including two private dining rooms, a sushi counter and, since Zhu has acquired a liquor license for the new restaurant, a bar. “It will be a much larger restaurant. Everyone will be happy when they come here, ”says Zhu.
Zhu plans to open Chengdu Gourmet 2 in January.