Shu Restaurant owners open Sichuan takeout restaurant in Avon – Hartford Courant


Xinyu Huang is chef and co-owner, with his wife Sally Zhu, of Shu Express in Avon. (Susan Dunne)
Shu Restaurant, with locations in West Hartford and Fairfield, has opened a primarily takeout site, Shu Express in Avon. Shu joins a trend of sit-down restaurants launching locations catering to the eat-at-home crowds that includes The Russell grab-and-go in Hartford, Toro Mexican Street Food in West Hartford and, soon, Tapas to Go in Glastonbury.
Shu owners Sally Zhu and Xinyu Huang brought several dozen of the most popular dishes from their Shu restaurants to their new site, in Walmart Plaza on Route 44.
“We have accumulated a lot of customers. Some of them live in this area. They wanted us to open a location here,” Zhu said.
Zhu and Huang are married and live in Farmington. Zhu is a native of Chengdu, China, the capital of Sichuan. That province is noted for its spicy cuisine. Shu Express reflects that, serving foods pungent with garlic and peppercorns and spiced with chili peppers that are dried, ground, paste, oil, marinated.
Chong Qing Chicken with dried chili peppers is on the menu at Shu Express in Avon. (Courtesy Shu Express)
“Sichuan is more about the seasoning. [Xinyu] calls Chinese restaurants here ‘American Chinese food.’ We want to bring authentic Chinese food to the customer,” Zhu said.
The ubiquitous Gen. Tso chicken, sweet and sour pork, chow mein, barbecued ribs and egg rolls are not on the menu. Instead, it features dishes such as fish filet in hot and spicy bowl; salt and pepper shrimp; pork or chicken in spicy garlic sauce; lamb or beef in spicy cumin; eggplant in spicy sauce; lo meins and fried rice; braised tomato claypot with beef, fish or lamb; tomato-fried egg soup; and dumplings in a sauce so wondrously garlicky that diners will want to save the rest and pour it over just about anything.
Huang is a graduate of, and former teacher at, a culinary university in Sichuan. He emigrated to the United States in 2000. In addition to the Shu restaurants, Zhu and Huang own Song in West Hartford and Han in Hartford. Another restaurant, Tang in Storrs, closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The couple also makes and bottles sauces in the Tasty Shu brand — dumpling sauce, chili oil and hot savory sauce — that is sold in Chinese groceries stores regionwide, including A Dong in West Hartford. The line of sauces reflect Zhu’s former career, in the import-export business.
“Sichuan food is popular all over the country. People want to challenge their tastes,” Zhu said.
Shu Express, at 255 West Main St., is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9:30 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Susan Dunne can be reached at
Copyright © 2022, Hartford Courant
Copyright © 2022, Hartford Courant


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