Billions can't be wrong

Places serving Asian (or Asian-influenced) fare

Feb 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

Akasaka 37152 6 Mile Rd., Livonia; 734-462-2630; $$$: The sushi bar is the heart of Tomiko DeMeere's serene restaurant. The full array of Japanese dishes includes teriyakis, tempuras, noodles in broth and yakitori, with a gourmet dinner for two ($46) offering a chance to sample many dishes economically.

B.D.'s Mongolian Barbeque 200 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-913-0999; 3325 University Drive, Auburn Hills; 248-364-4200; 42089 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-844-5800; 22115 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-792-9660; 43155 Main St., Suite 200, Novi; 248-735-1900; 29004 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-552-1200; 310 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-398-7755; 13150 Hall Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-726-6655; $: This place gives new meaning to the term "open kitchen." In the center of the dining room is a massive grill, staffed by "Natural Born Grillers," whipping up an endless array of meat, vegetables and spices. Don't complain about the food, or the size of the portion. Not because the chef is wielding a large oak stick, but because you are responsible for choosing raw meat and accompaniments from the buffet. If you're unsure of good combos, the staff has some suggestions. Very high energy on the weekends.

Café Sushi 1933 W. Maple Rd., Troy; 248-280-1831; $$$: When you walk into Café Sushi you are greeted by a sleek sushi bar topped with black tile. The focus is for those who want to try Japanese food but are scared away by raw fish — no daring is required here. The food is delicious and incorporates non-Eastern influences like French and Italian cuisine. The service above average, and there is something for every kind of diner, timid or adventurous.

Cherry Blossom 43588 W. Oaks Dr., Novi; 248-380-9160; $$: An element of beauty is part of everything from the marble-topped sushi and yakitori bars to the tatami rooms and conventional tables with settings in shades of blue, green and brown. The full range of Japanese fare offers diners an extensive choice, and service by the courteous, well-dressed staff adds to the stylish feeling of the place. Even beef teriyaki, so often a routine dish, is superb here. This is much more than a typical strip mall eatery.

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. 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 General Tso's chicken.

Eurasian Grill 4771 Haggerty Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-624-6109; $$: Head chef Michael Lum says it best: "The idea is Asian-based, new-American cooking. It's traditional American cooking with Asian spices to give it a new flavor." Spotlight dishes include the duck Macao (marinated in spices, deep-fried, then coated with a spicy Asian sauce) and tomato soup (a thick broth with crispy sizzling rice, Chinese veggies and big chunks of chicken and shrimp). A full bar and large wine list augment the dining experience.

Gim Ling Restaurant 31402 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-296-0070; $: New diners, as well as those with memories of a Gim Ling past, are in for quite a revelation when they dig into a dish. The locals have been spreading the word. On a typical Saturday night, you'll find a substantial line of folks waiting on carryout. Gim Ling has as robust a takeout business as we've witnessed at a Chinese restaurant. The dining room is usually at least half-capacity, and we can't help wonder how big a crowd might be drawn if they served adult libations along with the quality fare. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sundays and holidays.

Golden Chopsticks 24301 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7711; $$: Food quality varies widely on Golden Chopsticks' seemingly endless menu, 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 young. Low sodium or low oil on request and a selection of vegetarian dinners.

Golden Harvest 6880 E. 12 Mile Rd., Warren; 586-751-5288; $$: Golden Harvest is quiet, and the decor is mainly soothing blue, in a former catering hall in an unlikely spot on 12 Mile Road across from the GM Tech Center. They boast a purportedly non-Americanized, "authentic" Chinese menu, which is certainly more offbeat than most diners will be used to. Recommended for its specialty, its seafood and its daily dim sum, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m, Golden Harvest also keeps live fish and lobsters. The soft-shell crabs and "assorted seafood with spicy salt (hot)" are excellent, and one of the most popular dishes is walnut shrimp. Eggplant lovers should not miss deep-fried stuffed eggplant with black bean sauce.

Golden Wall 421 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-482-7600; $: The menu combines Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine — with a few additions such as crab Rangoon and chicken curry — in an ambitious list of entrées, adapted to Midwestern tastes. Chef Nguyen's version of pho dac biet, a meal-in-a-bowl soup of beef and noodles, was good, with lots of brisket, meatballs and tripe. Generous offers of $4-$5 lunches and $6-$10 dinners elevate Golden Wall's appeal.

Gourmet Garden 2255 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8389; $$: Start with a steamed vegetable dumpling, move on to the cold smoked duck plate, then try the Chinese eggplant stuffed with minced shrimp. This food isn't overly Americanized, and adventurous (and stubbornly persistent) American customers can demand a taste of genuine Chinese fare, including a few health food choices.

Hong Hua Fine Chinese Dining 27925 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-489-2280; $$: This Zagat-honored 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. For a starter, the 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.

Inyo Restaurant & Lounge 22871 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-543-9500; $$$: With a wide-ranging menu, striking presentations and quality cocktails, Inyo has sparked a buzz in Ferndale's dining scene. The dishes have not just flavor, but pleasing texture contrasts within a dish. The sushi menu is the standard makimono (rolls), sashimi and nigiri ranges from ordinary maki to specialties, such as the Inyo roll, which is a marriage of king crab, strawberry, Japanese cucumber and mango sauce all topped with caviar. The space sports oversized, wraparound booths and a granite horseshoe bar, with a soundtrack of easygoing nu-disco and downbeat lounge tunes. Excellent specialty cocktails.

Kabuki 28972 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-538-0664; $$: Kabuki serves a variety of Japanese and Korean specialties, including shabu-shabu (a classic Japanese fondue-type dish with meat and vegetables self-cooked in boiling water, served with dipping sauces) and bibimbap (a Korean dish served in a stone bowl, with rice, meat, vegetables and egg). A wide assortment of sushi and sashimi is also offered — many of the sushi rolls are the inventions of chef and owner K.J. Lee.

Katana Nu-Asian Steakhouse 111 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-591-9900; $$$: Though its menu is Japanese — or perhaps "Japanese-inspired" — there's nothing subtle about Katana Steakhouse. For teppanyaki — "hibachi table cooking" — diners are seated around big cooking surfaces, each manned by an aproned and toqued Chinese chef. Each diner's selection is quickly sautéed, arranged on a plate with the vegetables and presented with three dipping sauces. In addition to the main-attraction grills, diners can also sit at regular tables and order from the small plates menu, which has more of a fusion bent.

Kitchen Hanzo 6073 Haggerty Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-624-8666; $$: This is the type of place where Japanese salarymen go out after work — and there's a large enough clientele to keep this izakaya (pub) thriving. It serves five Japanese beers, sake and hot sochu. Expect small plates of seafood, noodles, sashimi and more. Most of Hanzo's food follows the Japanese model of graceful arrangements, complementary tastes and colors, and light but satisfying food.

Kona Grill 30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-619-9060; $$: For a taste of Hawaiian cuisine, which, as on the Big Island itself, is more accurately described as pan-Asian, Kona offers moderately priced fare in an attractive dining environment. Choices range from sushi, noodles and pizza to beef and seafood, featuring ahi, Maui onions, and macadamia nuts as a genuflection to the islands' culinary culture. Most of their mains cost less than $20. The small and versatile wine list has some decent buys in the 20s and 30s.

Mene Sushi 6239 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-538-7081; $$: At first look, one of the most intriguing things on the menu looks like it's a $60 choice. But look again. The multi-course "Bento Box for Two" is an unbelievable bargain. The $30 tab is for both dinners. The menu is long and complex, and it includes Korean specialties, such as bimbimbap and bulgogi.

Mi Loc 23043 Beech Rd., Southfield; 248-356-2155; $$: Like many Korean restaurants in the area, Mi Loc also serves Japanese food, including sushi, sashimi, tempura and teriyaki. It's hard to figure the connection between the robust cooking of Korea and the artful, ethereal cuisine of Japan, but the two don't make as odd a couple as one might think. One of Mi Loc's specialties is Korean barbecue, where thin-sliced marinated beef is prepared on gas grills built into the tables, then eaten with sticky rice, lettuce and a variety of sauces. It's labor-intensive dining, but convivial.

New Peking 29105 Ford Rd., Garden City; 734-425-2230; $: Throwback little Chinese joint with a loyal local following that has kept it going for more than 20 years. We canvassed the New Peking fan club's opinions, and they all agree on dishes with plenty of garlic. One fan 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 on offer, from moo-shu pork to Peking duck.

Nippon Grille 2959 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-544-6247; $$: An unusually homey setting for a Japanese restaurant. And the prices are a bargain. The $13.50 combination dinner includes a bowl of miso soup, a salad (American-style), a California roll, chicken teriyaki made with breast meat, two shrimp tempura and an assortment of vegetable tempura, rice and dessert. Offers half a dozen noodle soups, including udon, rice noodles and egg noodles (ramen).

Oslo 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-962-7200; $$$: Oslo patrons can choose between sushi and a long list of superior Thai dishes; the sushi is sliced and rolled by Korean-born John Riney. Tom kha, the soup with coconut milk and chicken, is both creamy and salty, with generous chunks of chicken. Drunken noodles are peppery yet luscious, the noodles fat and slippery, with a fold-in garnish of fresh basil leaves. Equally delicious was a "signature" dish called simply "Oslo Udon Noodles."

P.F. Chang's China Bistro 17390 Hall Rd., Clinton Twp.; 586-263-0860; 18900 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-429-2030; 17905 Haggerty Rd., Northville; 248-675-0066; 2801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-816-8000; $$: P.F. Chang's is part of a chain, located in a posh mall and the menu strays from authentic. But it is a very good restaurant nonetheless. Entrées are excellent, and drinks include a variety of wine, beer and specialty drinks traversing many cultures.

Ronin 326 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-546-0888; $$$: In a stylish setting, bandana-clad sushi chefs vigorously chop and slice at the sushi bar, turning out first-rate sushi and sashimi. But for the sushi-shy, there's also an interesting array of other Japanese standards. Not surprisingly, the bar is well stocked with sake, more than 20 different beers, including Kirin Ichiban, and a diverse selection of wine.

Royal Kubo 27 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-968-7550; $: Consistently voted "Best Place for Karaoke" by Metro Times readers, Royal Kubo is metro-Detroit's top destination for kitschy glamour. Few places really meet the challenge of a fun, alternative place to hang out with friends like the Royal Kubo. This place gets four stars simply for being something really different — a Filipino karaoke bar and restaurant. As for the Filipino fare, a good place to start is with the combo dinner.

Seoul Garden 2101 15 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-264-4488; $$: The basics of Korean cooking are garlic and sesame. The bicultural selection ranges from broiled eel to tempura and sushi, spicy hot to coolly elegant. Try a raw fish dish or have marinated sirloin (bulgogi) barbecued at your table. A horizon-broadening selection of ten side dishes in wee white bowls accompanies every dinner. Alcohol is served.

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.

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), natto (fermented soybeans) or orange clams. 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 for sushi only; party platters also available (minimum $25 order).

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 lamb, pork, chicken, beef, turkey, cod, scallops, 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; $$: 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.

Wasabi Korean & Japanese Cuisine 15 E. Kirby St., Suite E, Detroit; 313-638-1272;; $$: Wasabi's bibimbab is best served in a dolsot, a heated stone bowl. Chef Seonghun Kim 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 inaccuracies in these listings? Let us know. Call 313-202-8043 or e-mail to [email protected].