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Asia City Restaurant -- Ypsilanti

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This is supposed to open this weekend. Looking forward to trying it out.

http://www.annarbor.com/business-revi...

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  1. The construction was pretty impressive (at least size-wise). Houndgirl, thanks for letting me know it is finally done. I probably won't be able to try it out until very late Feb., but I hope to first see some reviews here, so I know in advance what are the don't-miss dishes. The sister building, Hua Xing Asia Market, is my favorite Asian grocery in SE Mich., so if the restaurant even comes close to living up to the grocery, it will be worth the (long) drive.

    1. After years of yearning for real Chinese food, I heard that Asia city was going to be coming to town and my hopes were high that my desires would finally be taken care of. To steal a quote from the above article....

      "Chinese Buffet 2 was not authentic Chinese food, Wang said. It catered more to American tastes. “Now, everything will be authentic,” he said."

      Well I took the drive today and took my two rug-rats with me. It is a pretty easy place to find just because of the outside. When you enter you run smack into a nice waterfall. The foyer has a familiar smell to me. If anyone had ever spend anytime in one of the Great Lakes Marina's...you will recognize it. I could not figure out what was making it smell like that. it was somewhat nostalgic to me, so I did not mind.

      Anyways when you get inside you get a choice of buffet or sit down and be waited on. I had the kids so I went with the buffet. I had no service issues like the people at Yelp have been going on about, but I do not think service should be graded in the first week or two of a restaurant. They simply have not found their sea legs yet...

      Food on the other hand...you can get a much better idea of in the first few weeks. You can figure out of it will be authentic, if attention to detail will be a priority or if they have a idea of what balance in a dish is. These are things I feel as if Asia City fails at. I saw all of the usual dishes that are staples at buffets all across SE Michigan. The General sitting next to Sesame Chicken next to Chicken and Broccoli....

      So I loaded up on dishes that I knew I could grade against past dishes, most were fair representations of the dish. One very low point was beef teriyaki...while the flavor was average...the meat was how should I say (this is where I now have stood up from my computer, walked away from my keyboard and paced in my house looking for a proper analogy) like chewing on a set of Goodyears. It could have used about 2 more weeks of braising.

      I took a cup of Hot and sour soup to my table and have finally found out that is possible to be made with absolutely no character. Snooze.

      I also took at two pieces of each Sushi...5 different types at once on my visit but they had area for more. One had some tuna and that was not that bad...the other four were forgettable at best. One had a massive piece of Diakon in it that totally ruined any sense of balance. Another was dry as popcorn farts.

      Sure I loaded up three of us for about $15, the service was adequate and the bathrooms were very clean....I just don't know if I would risk playing good money eating at the service side of the restaurant based on what I know about the buffet side.

      13 Replies
      1. re: JanPrimus

        I find it funny that the owner said "Chinese Buffet 2 was not authentic Chinese food. It catered more to American tastes. Now, everything will be authentic". Yet, from what JanPrimus experienced with the buffet, it sounds as unauthentic as can be! Since when are General Tso's chicken, sushi, and beef teriyaki considered *authentic* Chinese food??? WTF???

        1. re: jjspw

          Exactly....

          1. re: JanPrimus

            Yeah but, if you wanted to get a taste of the good stuff , why do the buffet side ? I understand about having kids with you , but did you really think the buffet side was going to be authentic Chinese ? I've never heard of a buffet that specialized in authentic Chinese food. Try the dine in side and take a gander at that menu. I just dined there tonight and the Braised Pork with Preserved Vegetables and Beef Brisket Wonton Noodle Soup were quite good.

            1. re: moose734

              It was not so much that they didn't have authentic Chinese that would keep me away....it was the utter lack of quality on the buffet side. I grabbed the menu on the way out and there are a few things that sound interesting but I am afraid of dropping money on a kitchen that served that bad of food on one side.

              Maybe after sometime I will drop back in...

              As for a buffet that gets a bit closer to Authentic Chinese...not nearly all the way...but has some non-westernized items available...

              There is a buffet at I think 12 Mile and Ryan (I think that is Madison Height's). I would have to drive around there again...but it was decent. Sticky buns, chicken feet and such. It has been awhile since I was there...so I can't say it is the same....but it may be worth a visit to that neck of the woods again.

              Think this is the one....
              http://www.yelp.com/biz/mongolian-chi...

              1. re: JanPrimus

                It wouldn't shock me at all if the two sides actually had different chefs doing the cooking. That buffet does sound interesting though. I almost forgot about oen I've been to in Livonia. Amongst the typical fare, they have a whole area dedicated to cold dishes with stuff like beef tendon, pickled cabbage, and jellyfish. Middlebelt and Five Mile I believe.

                1. re: moose734

                  Will have to check out that Livonia one....that is much closer to my neck of the woods any way.

                  1. re: moose734

                    JanPrimus, skip that "Mongolian Chinese Buffet" on 12 and Ryan. It's absolutely horrid. The "dim sum" is nothing but mush. The one on 5 and Middlebelt, suggested by moose734, sounds much more promising--although I've never been.

                    1. re: jjspw

                      That is half way what I was afraid of...a lot of the buffets I have visited in the past always seem to change in one way or another (Usually for the worse).

                    2. re: moose734

                      Well guess where I had lunch? :)

                      I did not see too much of the tendon, jelly fish or other traditional cold Szechuan dishes like the the 12 and Ryan buffet, but I did like the place. I did see a few of the Szechuan items like cold braised pork skin and they were not that bad.

                      The Sushi was above average for buffet sushi but well below dedicated sushi restaurant fare and to be honest when the guy is pumping out the sushi like this guy was...that is gonna happen. Much better than Asia City on this front.

                      As for the buffet items...all the usual suspects were present, but also some more rare Americanized dishes like Peanut butter chicken. Over all the quality was "buffet standard". Nothing I had out shined or under delivered. I obviously did not have everything so there could be some hidden gems or real stinkers. Who knows? I do know I will give this place another go soon when I get that "I need to fill up for under $10" urge again. My bill with "Sam" my dining partner was $10.00 or so. Sam being only 2 years old cost about $2.50 of that $10.00!

                      I saw that they had a Mongolian grill in the back of which I am never a fan. It's like giving the chef a load of ingredients and telling him to plop it into a saute pan. I screwed up the ratio's...you cook it all at once at a set temp...and be quick about it damn it.

                      Next to the Mongolian grill though was a Noodle Station. This I will go back and play around with. It may be stupid as a Mongolian Grill, but I have not screwed up a bowl of noodles yet. So the dream is not quite yet dead.

                      As for Asian Buffets...this would be in my top 3 pretty easily. Now I know this is like comparing Hospital cafeterias but...someone has to do it. Every now and then I just love to cram bad Chinese food into my face. This last week especially. :)

                      1. re: JanPrimus

                        This reminds me I might need to pay a return visit soon. As I recall , at the noodle bar, you have the options of a Pho like soup with rice noodles or a more Cantonese type with egg noodles. Nothing spectacular, but it's pretty good for what it is.

                    3. re: JanPrimus

                      Thank you for the detailed writeup, JP. But, are you saying you went there for lunch... 3 "adults" at $5/person, or dinner at $15/person, or dinner at 1 adult + 2kids for a total of $15? Just curious.

                      The only defense I can give is that more than a few Chinese Americans can be cheap son of a guns, happily stomaching crap food in mass quantities....even though their parents had, in contrast, skillfully cooked for them during their formative years. Thus, a junk Chinese restaurant can legitimately claim praise from authentic Chinese diners.

                      Maybe I'll wait until you and/or more people report out from the menu side. I'm hoping for a night-and-day difference between the two sections, but I share your skepticism...
                      PS---How did your Coq Au Vin turn out?

                      1. re: vtombrown

                        The $15 was me at full price and the kids at some odd tiered price point.

                        The Coq Au Vin was mainly good...the chicken could have been braised for a bit longer though. It was a massive sized bird (Stewing Chicken) but it was getting late...so we dove in ahead of the ideal completion time.

                        1. re: vtombrown

                          (i wish I knew how to delete or edit my above message, since my comments might offend...let me just say that my perspective came thru first hand experiences where in-laws and friends made purposeful choices to invest their disposable income in real estate or back into the family business, or whatever, rather than in consuming expensive food. I shouldn't have used the word "cheap," or suggested that any group has a corner on junky food! Besides, when a buffet is built near a college, it is expected that things will get gnarly, I suppose.)