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How Pittsburgh Is Growing America’s Next Great Chinatown


Wei Zhu made sure he delivered the duck to the table himself because it’s such a special dish.
The 49-year-old chef-owner of Chengdu Gourmet in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood placed the platter in the center of a lazy Susan already crowded with dishes, from glossy stir-fried cabbage, matchstick-cut vinegared potatoes, Sichuan cucumbers, and sad jello noodles—so named because they’re hot enough to make you cry.
Leaning toward the table’s center, Zhu used scissors to cut through the crispy skin, revealing the eight treasures inside that lend the dish the name Eight Treasure Duck. Sticky rice mingles with shrimp and scallops, several types of mushrooms, and vegetables diced like confetti.
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