Serving plenty of variety

Parx recently celebrated the opening of Xlounge, a small-plate tapas-style restaurant and bar.

Chef Joe Zhou’s extensive career spans 35 years and two continents.

The head chef at Parx Casino’s Bambu Noodle House has strong roots in traditional Chinese cooking. Born and raised in Shanghai, China, he spent the first nine years of his culinary career honing his skills in his hometown. It wasn’t until Zhou was 27 years old that he relocated to America and began training in authentic American cuisine.

“When I came into America, I started cooking American food and French food. I really like French food,” said Zhou, now 53. “For me, I enjoyed the fusion — a mix of the Eastern and Western foods. I put some Chinese flavors in the food and use American techniques in making it. So there’s a mix. That’s my style.”

Zhou has done all of the consulting at Bambu since it opened in August. He designed the extensive menu. He also created a new lunch menu that includes oolong tea and a hot-and-sour soup, also a choice of appetizer and entree.

“In the kitchen, we’re always consistent with the recipe,” Zhou said. “If you like the food, you can come back anytime and it’ll taste the same. It’s a fusion flavor.”

In addition to the authentic Asian fusion restaurant, Parx Casino recently opened Xlounge, a small-plate tapas-style restaurant and bar that offers beer and wine flights, live music and additional gaming. It’s the latest unveiling in a multi-phase expansion that has incorporated new slot machines, live table games, new restrooms and a gift shop.

Future phases of the master expansion plan will continue into next year. Parxgrill, the casino’s award-winning eatery, will undergo renovations to extend the bar area and incorporate more seating. The high-scale restaurant offers wine-pairing dinners with celebrity chefs such as Mark Murphy, from Food Network’s Chopped, and John Pierre, of Newtown, best known for his work at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia and his culinary school in Bucks County. There are also plans for a Gastro Pub and possibly an Italian-style restaurant.

“Things have been going really well. We offer quality services and products,” said Mike Jaffe, director of food and beverage at Parx Casino. “People asked for more options, more variety, so that’s what we’re doing.” ••

Fusion flavor: Chef Joe Zhou designed the menu at Parx Casino’s Bambu Noodle House.