$=$5-$10; $$=$10-$25; $$$=$25-$50; $$$$=$50+
Café Sushi 1933 W. Maple Rd., Troy; 248-280-1831; cafesushitroy.com; $$$: 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 is above average, and there is something for every kind of diner, timid or adventurous.
Cherry Blossom 43588 W. Oaks Dr., Novi; 248-380-9160; cherryblossom.biz; $$: An element of beauty is part of everything from the marble-topped sushi and yakitori bars to the tatami rooms and conventional tables with settings in shades of blue, green and brown. The full range of Japanese fare offers diners an extensive choice, and service by the courteous, well-dressed staff adds to the stylish feeling of the place. Even beef teriyaki, so often a routine dish, is superb here. This is much more than a typical strip mall eatery.
Chung's of Waterford 4187 Highland Rd., Waterford; 248-681-3200; chungrestaurant.com; $$: 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; eurasiangrillonline.com; $$: The idea is Asian-based, new-American cooking. It's traditional American cooking with Asian spices to give it a new flavor. Spotlight dishes include the duck Macao (marinated in spices, deep-fried, then coated with a spicy Asian sauce) and tomato soup (a thick broth with crispy sizzling rice, Chinese veggies and big chunks of chicken and shrimp). A full bar and large wine list augment the dining experience.
Gim Ling Restaurant 31402 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-296-0070; $: Gim Ling has served dine-in and carryout at the same St. Clair Shores strip mall location for decades. Only relatively recently has it been transformed into a "Modern Asian restaurant." In this case, the term "modern" mostly serves as a stand-in for "better." New diners, as well as those with memories of a Gim Ling past, are in for quite a revelation when they dig into a dish. The locals have been spreading the word. On a typical Saturday night, you'll find a substantial line of folks waiting on carryout. Gim Ling has as robust a takeout business as we've witnessed at a Chinese restaurant. The dining room is usually at least half-capacity, and we can't help wonder how big a crowd might be drawn if they served adult libations along with the quality fare. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sundays and holidays, closed on Mondays.
Golden Chopsticks 24301 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7711; goldenchopsticks.biz; $$: 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; $$: Golden Harvest is quiet, and the decor is mainly soothing blue, in a former catering hall in an unlikely spot on 12 Mile Road across from the GM Tech Center. They boast a purportedly non-Americanized, "authentic" Chinese menu, which is certainly more offbeat than most diners will be used to. Golden Harvest specializes in seafood. The Hong Kong-born chef keeps live crabs, lobsters and tilapia — and, depending on the season, eel, sea bass, clams, oysters and scallops. "Assorted seafood with spicy salt (hot)" and soft-shell crabs both sport thin, pepper-flecked crusts and a satisfying crunch. Clams can be cooked in XO sauce (made from dried seafood, garlic and chilies), invented in Hong Kong. A hot pot, kept warm at your table, is a good way to enjoy an assortment of sea critters.
Golden Wall 421 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-482-7600; $: New chef and owner Bao Hua Yang offers a menu combining Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine in an ambitious list of entrées, adapted to Midwestern tastes. Generous offers of $4-$5 lunches and $6-$10 dinners elevate Golden Wall's appeal.
Gourmet Garden 2255 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8389; gourmetgardenmi.com; $$: 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; honghuafinedining.com; $$: This Zagat-honored restaurant's decor has more of a fine-dining than a Chinese feel, elegant to look at, with its curving lines of cherry wood and tasteful paintings of flowers. For a starter, the mushroom soup comes highly recommended. The Szechuan hot and sour soup is another winner, more complex and flavorful than hot, it actually seems a bit sweet. An excellent entrée is eggplant in chili sauce. The moo-shu pork is tasty if not overly interesting, slightly sweet and crisped-up by the shredded cabbage that's used. Dessert can be ice cream or mango pudding.
Inyo Restaurant & Lounge 22871 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-543-9500; inyorestaurant.com; $$$: 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; $$: Kabuki serves a variety of Japanese and Korean specialties, including and bibimbap (a Korean dish served in a stone bowl, with rice, meat, vegetables and egg). A wide assortment of sushi and sashimi is also offered — many of the sushi rolls are the inventions of chef and owner K.J. Lee.
Kai Garden 116 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-995-1785; kaigarden.com: Kai Garden features a menu of more than 180 items. They include the standards — pork fried rice, sweet and sour chicken — as well as more interesting dishes such as catfish hot pot, rose scallops, and spicy pig ears. The steamed sole, a large flat fish, is worth the half-hour wait just to watch the show: Your waitress removes the flesh from the bones with a butter knife. It's steamed first, then sprinkled with matchsticks of ginger and scallions, and served with a rich brown special soy sauce.
Katana Nu-Asian Steakhouse 111 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-591-9900; $$$: 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; $$: This is the type of place where Japanese salarymen go out after work — and there's a large enough clientele to keep this izakaya (pub) thriving. It serves five Japanese beers, sake and hot sochu. Expect small plates of seafood, noodles, sashimi and more. Most of Hanzo's food follows the Japanese model of graceful arrangements, complementary tastes and colors, and light but satisfying food.
Kona Grill 30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-619-9060; konagrill.com; $$: 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.
Korea Palace 34744 Dequindre Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-978-0500; $$: Situated in a modest strip mall, Korea Palace's wood-trimmed, simple, warm decor is similar to plenty of Asian restaurants around town. The staff promptly greets all of the customers, most of whom are Korean, and presents them with the exhaustive, four-page menus. Once they've ordered, guests are given banchan, an assortment of small plates of vegetable-based bites. Most of the appetizers are actually commonly found as street food in South Korea, all generally prepared as one would find them across the Pacific. There are about 50 main dishes from which to choose, each generous with regard to portion size. Broths and noodles encompass a significant portion of the menu at Korea Palace. Other entrées focus on fish and protein: breaded chicken or beef, roasted mackerel, steamed pork belly, braised fish head and daikon radish. The combinations are seemingly endless. Korea Palace also offers barbecue options for the grill-loving carnivore, all around $15. They also have hot pots for two or more people, available for $30-$35 each.
Lotus Pond 28747 Hoover Rd., Warren; 586-751-4020; $$: When it comes to Chinese for our Metro Times readers in Macomb County, they chose Lotus Pond, naming it as an exceptional choice for classic American-friendly fare. What's more, given the restaurant's generous portions, you'll have plenty of leftovers to warm up the next day — or perhaps an hour later.
Mene Sushi 6239 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-538-7081; $$: At first look, one of the most intriguing things on the menu looks like it's a $60 choice. But look again. The multi-course "Bento Box for Two" is an unbelievable bargain. The $30 tab is for both dinners. The menu is long and complex, and it includes Korean specialties, such as bimbimbap and bulgogi.
Middle Kingdom 332 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-6638; annarbormiddlekingdom.net; $$: Middle Kingdom serves up quite a lot of the classic, Americanized fare that's like a national comfort food to diners of a certain generation. It tied in our readers' poll with Kai Garden, suggesting that Ann Arborites are sophisticated enough for the real thing, but not snooty about digging in when it comes to Cantonese-American food.
Mon Jin Lau 1515 E. Maple Rd., Troy; 248-689-2332; monjinlau.com; $$: One only needs to visit Mon Jin Lau on a Saturday night — when it is invariably bustling with vitality — to catch a glimpse of the widespread love it has garnered. This is no doubt due in part to the exhaustive "Nu Asian" menu. Try the ginger garlic eggplant (eggplant rolled with wood ear mushrooms, pesto, pine nuts, red pepper and rice noodles) or the Thai lemongrass chicken (cooked with peapods, asparagus, straw and shitake mushrooms, onion, red pepper and baby corn) or the Mongolian beef or the Maine lobster or ... you get the idea.
New Lutong Pinoy 31101 Dequindre Rd., Ste. A, Madison Heights; 248-565-8360; $$: Aiming for authentic Filipino cuisine in a full-service restaurant, much of the food at New Lutong Pinoy does not taste like generic pan-Asian. Many Filipino dishes are earthy, slow-cooked stews. This is best illustrated in the popular dish adobong — meat simmered in a tangy vinegar sauce and called the quintessential Philippine stew. Dive into the tasty deep-fried goodies from the appetizer menu, then explore the pork dishes, including pata, a mound of crispy fried pork shank with skin included, or beef cooked all different ways, including caldareta na baka, a hearty dish of tender beef chunks and vegetables in a tomato sauce and not too far off from a simple chili con carne. To wash it all down, you can't go wrong with a simple sweetened coconut juice with bits of pulp.
New Peking 29105 Ford Rd., Garden City; 734-425-2230; newpeking.us; $: 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 $9.25 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 Mo Shu pork to Peking duck.
Noble Fish 45 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-585-2314; noblefish.com; $$: The insular Japanese keep things intensely focused, whether it be decor or food customs or table manners, which is what makes Noble Fish an experience. Out front are isles of packaged foodstuffs. But in back is a magnificently serene sushi bar, staffed by iron chefs of the first order: a no-nonsense, inexpensive, delicious alternative to too-Westernized sushi madness.
Pho Viet 3854 E. 13 Mile Rd., Warren;586-558-8115: There are nearly 20 ways to order pho at Pho Viet. Most are some combination of proteins — rare beef, well-done flank, brisket, tendon, tripe, beef meatballs, or all of the above. The Bun cha gio thit nuong is wholly satisfying — a combination of rice vermicelli and vegetables under grilled pork and a crispy roll. With tall ceilings and a wide, open floor plan, the dining area feels enormous. It's quiet on weekday nights, but the lunch hour on a Sunday was busy. The service was superior.
Ronin 326 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-546-0888; roninsushi.com; $$$: 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; 248-588-2300; $: 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.
Sakana Sushi Lounge 22914 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-336-2555; sakanasushilounge.com; $$: As a "sushi lounge," Sakana aims to smooth the erratic pace of living through stylish drinks, lush electro-acoustic lounge beats and raw fish artfully prepared. Expect an assortment of cocktails, a half-dozen salads, and several lunch and dinner specials consisting of varied mixtures of nigiri sushi, sashimi and hand rolls
Sala Thai 3400 Russell St., Detroit; 313-831-1302; 2751 E. 14 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-939-5456; salathai.us; $$: 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.
Special thanks to editorial interns Rachelle Damico and Jackie Rollin for their assistance compiling this column.
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! Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 313-202-8043.