When it comes to Chinese food, and I'm talking real Chinese food (not the Americanized versions most of us enjoy), I am a pretty big critic. My travels around China left me disappointed in the country's cuisine as a whole, and only one region, Sichuan province, had any redeeming factors thanks to its strong flavors and intense heat.
So when we heard about Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill gaining in popularity thanks to its authentic Sichuan food, we knew we had to visit.
A Meal Straight Out of Sichuan at Chengdu Gourmet
Our experience at Chengdu Gourmet gave me considerable flashbacks to my travels, as this restaurant could have been easily relocated to central Chengdu and fit right in (minus the English menus, perhaps).
With a large menu that consists of everything from small plates to the iconic hot pot, it was pretty hard to figure out what we wanted to order.
In the end we opted to skip the hot pot on our first visit (as it is quite the large meal) and instead ordered Mao's Braised Pork Belly, a spicy pork dish, as well as Kung Pao Chicken in Chengdu style. You may think this is an odd choice thanks to its popularity in most imitation Chinese restaurants; however, it is one of the few Americanized dishes that is actually authentic in China- making it a perfect dish to try and see whether or not Chengdu Gourmet is sticking to their culinary roots.
Luckily, I am very pleased to say that both of these dishes were very reminiscent of the food from Sichuan province in China, all the way down to the intense heat that was slow to build up and stuck with us for several hours after we left.
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The Kung Pao Chicken was quite true to its style prepared in Asia, which will likely disappoint many familiar with the Americanized version thanks to its lack of sweetness and minimal heat (but if you love the Sichuan style of the dish, spice and all, you can't go wrong here).
Unfortunately, the food also reminded me that I am still not a fan of authentic Chinese food as the flavors can be, at times, a bit one-sided. I will thoroughly admit that those who like the flavors of real Chinese food will adore this one, but sadly, it just isn't for me.
I suppose I cannot blame the restaurant for that one at all.
Chengdu Gourmet is located at 5840 Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill.
Looking for more restaurants in Squirrel Hill? Check out Everyday Noodles, Smallman Street Deli, Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33 or Nu Bistro for more tasty options! Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!