Asian ‘hot pot’ restaurant to open in Oakland, fill Pizza Sola vacancy

More than six months after Pizza Sola closed its doors, a new Asian restaurant will fill its vacancy. 

A new restaurant, called Top Shabu-Shabu and Lounge, will open where Pizza Sola previously operated on Atwood Street. According to owner Res Jianz, Top Shabu, a casual dining establishment with table service, will serve traditional Chinese “hot pot” cuisine and will feature a bar when it opens in three to four weeks. Jianz acquired the building permit for 114 Atwood St. on Oct. 22 and has been planning and renovating the restaurant since. According to a report published in the Pittsburgh Business Times in May, Pizza Sola closed after owner Jim Aiello Jr. began to sell the properties in the spring. 

“We’re doing the final touches, so there is no set day to open yet,” Jianz said. 

Andrew Khoo, the restaurant’s manager, said although they named the new restaurant after Shabu-shabu, a Japanese style of dining, yet Top Shabu’s hot pot style is traditionally more Chinese. 

Customers will order a “hot pot” and whatever meats and vegetables they would like to eat, which servers will bring to the table. Customers will then cook the food using the hot pot, a metal container filled with broth and heated by an electric coil, and eat their food at their table. In hot pots, the food is cooked while the pot simmers. Thinly sliced beef is the traditional choice, Khoo said, but Top Shabu will offer a variety of meat and vegetable options. 

“All food is cooked at the table,” Khoo said. 

According to Khoo, Top Shabu’s bar will offer Asian-inspired drinks.

“We have a 10 tap system from the previous owner,” Khoo said. “We’ll also have a variety of wine and a large variety of liquor for unique mixed drinks. The mixed drinks will have an Asian influence. For example, melon liqueur is used a lot in China.”

Though Pizza Sola also had a liquor license, Top Shabu had to apply for their license separately, Khoo said, in accordance with Pennsylvania law.

After construction is finished, Khoo said they will focus on hiring and training employees and are aiming to open the first or second week of February.

“We completely rebuilt the interior,” he said.

Jianz, who has been living in Pittsburgh for the last 14 years, said he wanted to open a hot pot restaurant in Oakland because he wanted to introduce students to a new style of dining.

“Hot pot is very popular with young people in China. I wanted to communicate a new culture of food,” he said. 

After he opens the restaurant in Oakland, Jianz said he hopes to open another hot pot restaurant in Squirrel Hill depending on the success of the forthcoming Top Shabu. He said he is looking for a location now, but nothing is certain.

Though Oakland already has several other Asian restaurants like Szechuan Express and Asia Tea House, Jianz is confident Top Shabu will stand out. 

“It’s different, not like a regular Chinese restaurant,” Jianz said. “Everyone in China knows about [hot pot], and I wanted to bring the new food here.”