An experienced Chinese chef who’s amassed a following over the years through operating two well-received local restaurants just opened his third spot in Torrey Highlands, the North County community between Pacific Highland Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos off State Route 56.
Replacing a barbecue joint in the Highlands Village Place complex, Chef Zhu is the newest endeavor for Shi-Liang Zhu, who graduated from a famous culinary school in Shanghai and opened Shanghai City on Convoy Street in 1999.
With its pleasingly retro interior, Shanghai City became popular for its lunch buffet and was virtually the only restaurant in San Diego to serve regional Shanghainese cuisine up until its closure in 2010.
In 2013, Zhu took over Double Happiness, a longstanding fixture in Del Mar Village. Renaming it Chef Zhu, he retained the Chinese-American menu of the previous restaurant while adding his Shanghainese specials. During the height of the pandemic in 2021, Zhu sold the space to Chin’s Szechwan, a local Chinese chain.
With the new iteration of Chef Zhu in Torrey Highlands, the chef hopes his regulars from Kearny Mesa and Del Mar will seek him out.
Decorated with photos of old Shanghai, the spacious restaurant and bar is now serving lunch and dinner. There are lunch specials like kung pao chicken and beef and broccoli but also an extensive array of classic Shanghai dishes, from breakfast staples like soy milk and you tiao to lion’s head meatballs, braised pork knuckle, bean curd with malantou, and pan-fried glutinous rice cakes.
Chef Zhu, 7845 Highlands Village Place Suite C101-C102, Torrey Highlands. Wednesday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.