One of Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill is a student hotspot for great food. It has a wide variety of choices in Asian cuisine, boasting Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian restaurants, among others. Chengdu Gourmet, a Chinese restaurant, sits on Forward Avenue off Forbes Avenue. From campus, the 61C and 61D buses will take you all the way down to Forward. If you’re up for a walk, the 61A and 61B lines to Forbes and Murray Avenue work as well.
Outside, Chengdu Gourmet is bright yellow with a red trim, decorated with Chinese paper lanterns and multi-colored garlands. Inside, there is an open space that feeds into a larger room for diners. There are several booths running along one side of the room, small square tables, and larger circular tables arranged around the room.
Chengdu Gourmet has an extensive menu that caters to different customers. It has the classic Chinese-American dishes, General Tso’s Chicken and Triple Delight, as well as a few Thai choices, such as Pad Thai. If you’re in the mood to try something a little different — and more authentic — jump to the traditional Chinese menu, which offers several different kinds of pork, casseroles, and noodle soups.
Eating family style, my friend and I decided to order an appetizer, a vegetable entrée, and a meat entrée. Both entrées came with bowls of rice. The service was fast and efficient. The food was out not too long after we ordered, and the waiter walked past to check on us but didn’t intrude.
For the appetizer, we chose scallion pancakes, a staple in Chinese cuisine and something from our moms’ cooking that both of us craved. The scallion pancakes were wonderfully flaky, cooked with just enough oil, and went very well with the sweet soy sauce they came with. We could’ve ordered three more of them for our entire meal and would’ve been full and content.
The vegetable entrée we chose was dry sautéed green beans with minced pork. The green beans were very flavorful, the minced pork making a nice compliment. The green beans were slightly salty and soggy, but overall, they were a nice contrast to what we ended up choosing as out meal entrée.
The meat entrée of our choice was diced chicken with dried peppers Chongqing style. Food from Chongqing, a city in southwest China, is part of the broader Sichuan cuisine, which is known for bold flavors and spiciness. The chicken lived up to its name. The dried peppers gave the chicken a particularly numbing spiciness commonly found in Sichuan cuisine. However, the numbing spiciness overwhelmed all the other flavors from the chicken itself. I’m not the most tolerant of spicy foods, so I was constantly drinking water (which the waiter promptly refilled) and eating bites of green beans and rice after.
The appetizer and two dishes were more than enough for the two of us — we were absolutely stuffed after the meal. We chose Chengdu Gourmet because we wanted to try a new place in the area that served authentic Chinese food. For the most part, we weren’t disappointed. I’m excited to go again and try different dishes on the menu.