A rich history of Chinese-American cuisine
Published: December 15, 2010
Chin's Chop Suey 28205 Plymouth Rd., Livonia; 734-421-1627: Owned by the same folks who owned the Chin Tiki in downtown Detroit, you'll find this spot overflowing with tiki tchotchkes thanks to owner Marvin Chin, who designed both interiors. Expect plenty of bamboo, blowfish lamps, and of course, tikis. Expect the usual Chinese fare, all served in a sumptuous, faux-tropical setting.
Chung's of Waterford 4187 Highland Rd., Waterford; 248-681-3200: The suburban branch of the now-shuttered Cass Avenue restaurant has a much larger and more glamorous setting and an expanded menu accompanies the dimensions. There's even sushi, for instance. But many will probably be there for memories of the food they grew up on. The famous Chung egg roll filled with cabbage, shrimp, pork and bean sprouts is here, along with the Cantonese, Szechuan and Hunan dishes including stir-fried shrimp and broccoli, a vegetarian array called Buddhist Delight, Hunan scallops and, naturally, General Tso's chicken.
Golden Chopsticks 24301 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7711: Food quality varies widely, with sizzling rice soup and non-greasy potstickers a definite yes. Familiar Chinese menu includes moo-shu pork, Hunan chicken, kung pao everything, chop suey and egg foo yung. Low sodium or low oil on request and a selection of vegetarian dinners.
Hong Hua Fine Chinese Dining 27925 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-489-2280: The restaurant's decor has more of a fine-dining than a Chinese feel, elegant to look at, with its curving lines of cherry wood and tasteful paintings of flowers. The shredded duck and mushroom soup comes highly recommended. The Szechuan hot and sour soup is another winner, more complex and flavorful than hot, it actually seems a bit sweet. An excellent entrée is eggplant in chili sauce. The moo-shu pork is tasty if not overly interesting, slightly sweet and crisped-up by the shredded cabbage that's used. Dessert can be peppermint or ginger ice cream, or translucent lychees served on ice.
Kowloon Restaurant 22905 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, 313-565-4521: Though it once occupied a cozy railroad car-sized spot on Michigan Avenue, it's now in an updated-looking park-in-front eatery between Outer Drive and Military Street. The Chinese fare is dependable, but, to those who would know the pleasures of boneless almond chicken — deep-fried in batter, drizzled with brown sauce and set on iceberg lettuce until it wilts — this is your perfect introduction.
Lucky Dragon 430 Eureka Rd., Wyandotte; 734-282-3333: Once, when we did a roundup of Chinese restaurants for this section, one of our readers piped up and sent us an e-mail: "We love Chinese food and enjoyed your recent collection of places to try. You might not know about Lucky Dragon. We have a busy schedule but enjoy Lucky Dragon at least once a week. We are fortunate to have such a healthy and tasty restaurant right here in downtown Wyandotte." Sounds like an honest recommendation to us!
New Hong Kong 8695 Telegraph Rd., Taylor; 313-292-3050: Downriver is blessed with more than a dozen Chinese restaurants, but our friends seem to favor this joint, for its affordable prices and consistent quality.
New Peking 29105 Ford Rd., Garden City; 734-425-2230: It's a classic little Chinese joint with a loyal local following that has kept it going for more than 20 years. We canvassed their opinions, and they all agree on dishes with plenty of garlic. One person said he loves their garlic sauce. Another fan praised the $8.95 garlic chicken, which comes with boneless chicken chunks, green peppers, onion, diced bamboo shoots and mushrooms in a house brown sauce, calling it "more addictive than crack!" Hear that, garlic lovers? For those who shy away from the "stinking rose," there is a full line of Chinese-American classics, from moo-shu pork to Peking duck.
Red Star Dearborn 13944 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-581-1451: This unassuming restaurant serves your typical Americanized Chinese fare, with one remarkable twist: Almost everything can be made vegan, which means vegetarians can have a taste of the food they grew up on without having to eat chicken or beef. Not only will the kitchen whip up mock meat using wheat gluten, they also accommodate Muslim diets by having Halal meat available on request. Solid soups and large portions.
Shangri-La 4710-12 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-974-7667: Yes, the location in West Bloomfield (6407 Orchard Lake Rd.; 248-626-8585) is probably better-known, but this spot, located in the former Twingo's, is managed by legendary restaurateur Raymond Wong. The restaurant's strong suit is dim sum and other traditional Chinese cuisine, and they serve quality sushi as well, but they maintain a solid menu of Americanized classics, and the kitchen churns out a quality rendition of Almond Boneless Chicken, and a wonton soup that's large enough for two.
Szechuan Empire 29215 Five Mile Rd., Livonia; 734-458-7160: Feeding its Livonia neighborhood for more than 10 years, this is a busy little place, but the staff is friendly and attentive. Even though "authenticity" has been subjugated to American tastes — fiery Szechuan specialties are toned down and interspersed with milder Cantonese entrées, for instance — the dishes have an attention to detail that is admirable. Even the wonton soup has a tasty broth and mellow little chunks of meat at the bottom, ensuring you'll drink down the last drops.
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