Thursday, October 22, 2015

"How Pittsburgh is Growing America's Next Great Chinatown".

Sign from Pittsburgh's Chinatown bus station. The remnants of Pittsburgh's former Chinatown are downtown.

Food critic Melissa McCart of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes for Saveur that Pittsburgh's Chinese student population is leading to an improve Chinese restaurant scene. Today's article borrows from McCart's July 9 Post-Gazette piece and profiles the people behind Everyday Noodles, Sakura, and Chengdu Gourmet, three restaurants in Squirrel Hill.
Pittsburgh sits at the gateway to the Midwest and the crux of the Appalachian mountains, with more bridges than Venice, a vibrant arts community, and a growing restaurant scene. But the city has not been known for its national diversity, with a 2010 census showing that only 4 percent of residents were born abroad.

That's changing now as schools like University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne University, and Point Park University are attracting more international students from Asia—especially China. Five years ago, Pittsburgh universities counted under 1,000 Chinese students in their undergraduate and graduate programs combined; today more than 5,000 Chinese students, and several thousand more residents, call Pittsburgh home—a number that's expected to keep growing.

The surge in diversity has sparked changes in restaurant kitchens around the city, with Chinese-American and pan-Asian restaurants recruiting Chinese chefs with the help of overseas government agencies, cooking schools, and placement services in New York in order to get cooks with the cultural literacy and specialized skills to serve more regional Chinese cuisine.


  1. I really want this to be true. But there are at least 3 problems with this article:

    1. No addressing the lack of dim sum options
    2. The fact that the student population is fairly transient - the vast majority will move to NYC/ Silicon Valley. Chinatowns need a mix of people from different classes setting down roots and establishing themselves.
    3. The H1-B country error.

  2. Those are good points. I think some good options have shown up around town (at least around Squirrel Hill) in the last few years. But as I emailed Melissa when she contacted me for comment in July, I think it's Asian-American and Asian entrepreneurs---and not necessarily Asian students---who have contributed to the success of Asian restaurants. Look at most "Chinese" places, and you'll find hundreds of menu items to appeal to picky American pallets.

    The "Chinatown" comparison is hyperbole as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if an out-of-towner wrote it. Authentic, organic Chinatowns aren't springing up around a few restaurants.

    The article profiles a few good restaurants, but things like "next Chinatown" are just clickbaity.


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