East meets West
Part 2 of a roundup of selected Asian restaurants in metro Detroit
Published: January 16, 2013
Sala Thai 3400 Russell St., Detroit; 313-831-1302; 2751 E. 14 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-939-5456; salathai.us; $$: A highlight of not only the Eastern Market area, but of southeast Michigan in general, Sala Thai’s pad Thai has just the right levels of succulence in juice — not too dry, not too slimy. Their gaeng phanaeng has the perfect levels of coconut milk and green curry, so that the two flavors strengthen each other’s clarity. And they have a pad see-ew that is drenched in the sweetest of brown sauces and a pad prik king that is a flat-out spicy wonder.
Shangri-La 6407 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-626-8585; $$: Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of Sunday brunch; carts rolling from table to table, diners pointing to what they want, little dishes piling up on the table, all of which are later counted to calculate the bill. And don’t forget Shangri-La when you are looking for a great Chinese dinner. The menu is lengthy, and runs from jellyfish to almond boneless chicken. Their mid-city location is quirkier, but with attentive servers and excellent dim sum.
Shangri-La Midtown 4710 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-974-7669; $$: A great low-key Wayne State-area hangout, Shangri-La has a menu notable for the diversity of its Asian fare, ranging from sushi to dim sum to Americanized staples like Almond Boneless Chicken. There are also plenty of vegetarian options. The gracious Raymond Wong holds court as host, and the drinks menu is no less sophisticated (or crowd-pleasing) than the menu. Full bar.
Sharaku Sushidokoro 6159 Haggerty Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-960-1888; $$: Sharaku is the most authentic Japanese restaurant in metro Detroit. As in Japan, the decor consists of spare, blond wood and the meals are served with a minimum of pretension. For sushi, you may want to branch out and try rolls of dried squash, burdock, ume shiso (green tea) or natto (fermented soybeans). At the back of your menu, look for a long list of liquors (shochu) distilled from different grains: sweet potatoes, barley, rice, buckwheat or potatoes (the most popular). Takeout available except for noodle dishes; party platters also available (minimum $25 order).
Shogun Chinese & Japanese Bistro 18411 Hall Rd., Macomb Township, 586-228-9186, and 37750 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights, 586-268-4882; 23195 Marter Rd., St. Clair Shores; 586-350-0927; $$: The St. Clair Shores location adds American-friendly Chinese fare to the menu, but the other two have Japanese-only menus, including sushi and, that art of grilling-as-performance, teppanyaki.
Siam Spicy 29838 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-4305; $$: Last year, our Oakland County readers voted Siam Spicy the Best Thai Cuisine in Oakland County. It’s a friendly joint specializing in providing a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere, where entrées are stir-fried or prepared in coconut milk with plenty of pepper. Curries are red or green and very flavorful. The pad Thai should be enough for two, maybe three meals. It has won Best Thai honors on and off since 1996.
Sizzling Sticks Cafe 144 Mary Alexander Ct., Northville; 248-380-9400; $$: You select the combo of ingredients, from meat to nuts, being as conservative or as innovative as you wish, and the agile young cooks create it before your eyes. Choose from pork, chicken, beef, turkey, sausage, tilapia, shrimp, calamari or tofu. Then add veggies, sauces and spices. Salad bar and desserts are standard American.
Szechuan Empire 29215 Five Mile Rd., Livonia; 734-458-7160; szechuanempire.com; $$: Feeding its Livonia neighborhood for more than 10 years, this is a busy little place, but the staff is friendly and attentive. Fiery Szechuan specialties are interspersed with milder Cantonese entrées.
Thang Long 27641 John R Rd., Madison Heights; 248-547-6763; $$: Thang Long makes a great pho. And what’s not to like about a massive bowl of rich, slow-developed meat broth flavored with spices and filled with rice vermicelli noodles and beef? But we are truly into their combo vermicelli. It’s a bowl of those same rice noodles with the addition of cucumber, fresh cabbage, daikon, pickle, carrot, fried garlic and mint. Instead of broth, you’ll get a small bowl of garlic fish sauce dressing to pour over the works. There are several toppings to choose from. Our favorite is the shrimp crabmeat crispy roll. An uncomplicated dish is seldom so deeply satisfying.
Tuptim Thai Cuisine 4896 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-528-5588; tuptim.com; $$: Since 2002, Tup Tim has built a reputation for using fresh ingredients to create authentic Thai food, including hard-to-find dishes for advanced diners. The kitchen is happy to dial down the hotness, and every other facet of the experience — atmosphere, service, prices — is designed to leave you hungry for more.
Wasabi Korean & Japanese Cuisine 15 E. Kirby St., Suite E, Detroit; 313-638-1272; wasabidetroit.com; $$: Wasabi’s bibimbab is best served in a dolsot, a heated stone bowl. Your chef tops a big pile of white rice with little piles of julienned beef and vegetables, mostly cold, and a fried egg. Squeeze on the gochujang, a chili-based hot sauce, and mix it all together. It’s huge and infinitely satisfying on a cold night. The other famous-to-Americans Korean dish is bulgogi, which here is marinated rib eye. The marinade includes not only sake, ginger and various fruits but Sprite! Sushi in all the usual varieties is offered, artfully done and of excellent quality. For dessert, Japanese ice cream is the best bet, especially green tea flavor.
See any mistakes? This is not supposed to be a comprehensive list by any means, but let us know what you think should have been included!
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