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good new inexpensive choices in Ann Arbor area

  • j

Japanese: Have been delighted by Nagomi, on Plymouth in the space where Bagel Fragel used to be (it is still there but has moved several spaces down). Only downside: as in heaven, there is no beer. But the sushi dishes are all very elegantly presented, even the basic specials. Homemade soy sauce that isn't too salty and really tastes like soy. Simple, hearty noodle dishes are about $6.50 or $7.50; you can pay a lot more than that for noodles in this town.

Mexican: There are places like Pacific Beach Burrito (on Washtenaw, between Golfside and Hewitt) on every block in SoCal, but around here it's unique. Very cheap (tortas: $3.99 or $4.25, which is less than in Detroit), tasty Mexican standards. This place is catching on, and they're understaffed, so the fast food aspect isn't so fast if you go at peak hours. However, they hang in there, and eventually you get the food.

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  1. > as in heaven, there is no beer ...

    WHAT? No beer? What are gonna tell me next, no dogs allowed? If there are no dogs
    in heaven, then I want to go wherever dogs go.

    1 Reply
    1. If there's no beer, it can't be heaven.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Davwud

        Sorry, folks. The Polka Poet has spoken. But if you want beer, you can go across Plymouth to Saica, which is also decent (although more expensive) and serves sukiyaki-type dishes as well as sushi and other Japanese standards.

        Saica Restaurant
        1733 Plymouth Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

      2. Come on Jim M. You don't say, "Homemade soy sauce," and then follow it up only by saying "plus hearty noodles; end of story." There's got to be some more REALLY interesting angles to this story. You wouldn't introduce a pizzeria just by saying, "the pizza oven is nuclear powered, and there also are complimentary breadsticks." True? :-) Anybody who tries to brew their own soy sauce has got to have some wild stuff going on. Do they have miso fermenting in back, or perhaps some stinky fish thing going on?
        In any event, thank you for tip!

        3 Replies
        1. re: vtombrown

          I don't know, it's pretty basic, but there are several things that are beyond the norm, including the soy sauce. They've got an appetizer called an avocado bowl that's sort of an orb of avocado filled with spicy tuna, as I recall. Some people like the dumplings, but I haven't tried them. The waiter said the sushi chefs were trained in New York. Dinner menu is larger than the lunch menu.

          This place has been quite crowded at peak hours, drawing U-M undergrads, Asian families, townies, and a mix of others.

          1. re: Jim M

            Nice rec, ate dinner there yesterday, great service, small dining room. Had the sushi combo and 3 rolls. Spicy tuna was excellent. Nigiri tasted fresh, nice yellowtail and super white tuna. Also thought the cold soba with tempura was good. Thanks.

          2. In heaven, there is no beer...that's why we drink it here. Also, in heaven there is no snow. That's why I want to go...

            1 Reply
            1. re: momskitchen

              Is there beer in Hell? You know there probably is....light domestic canned beer.

              If there is no beer or only bad beer in hell or heaven, I am going atheist because I don't wanna go!

              You can just bury me in Belgium with a few bottles of aged Westvleteren 12.

            2. Yes, Nagomi is proving to be very good--and more economical than Saica (which I still love) across the street.
              Right up the road . . . Great Plains Burgers. Fabulous burgers (incl turkey and veggie options). They have the best, fresh cut french fries! Then there are the shakes, made w/ Guernsey ice cream--ask about the shakes with mint syrup too.
              I'm also enjoying Haifa Falafel (on Washtenaw). Good tabbouleh, mjadarrah; my son loves the falafel. Charming staff.

              Saica Restaurant
              1733 Plymouth Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

              Haifa Falafel
              4585 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

              1. I'm happy to hear about Nagomi, and I give an enthusiastic thumbs up to Pacific Beach Burrito. It's exactly like a SoCal taqueria, except the menu is much more extensive. I've been alternating between fish tacos and the rolled beef or chicken tacos, which come with guac and a generous helping of salad. They have also offered dishes made with cactus, but you have to ask for it since it's not always available. The prices are cheap and as a bonus, try the Mexican carrots -- carrots in a vinaigrette with bits of cilantro. I have eaten there about once a week since they opened.

                Can't go with the poster who recommended Great Plains Burgers. The menu is only burgers (cooked medium unless you ask otherwise) fries and shakes. In a town where so many places now make their burgers with meat from Knights, I was not impressed with the burger, which is of unknown origin, and I wouldn't send you there just for fries and a shake.

                3 Replies
                1. re: CulinaryWoman

                  I love that Great Plains has such a focused menu--what they do, they do very well.
                  Great Plains has three kinds of burgers now: turkey, in-house made black bean, and beef. The buns come from Zingermans and the toppings are all very fresh and top-qualiity.
                  And me, I would send my best friends there "just for fries and a shake." These are the only fries I eat in AA now.

                  1. re: CulinaryWoman

                    Eh, I can't really cosign on the Pacific Beach love. It's admirable that they're making an attempt at more authentic fare in a "fast food" setting, but with Taqueria La Fiesta not too far away and La Casita literally right across the street you really can get a better preparation of more authentic mexican cuisine. Just try Al Pastor from Pacific Beach against it from La Casita. No contest really.

                    Taqueria La Fiesta
                    4060 Packard St, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

                    1. re: CulinaryWoman

                      I have to agree, wanted to like the place, used to live out west where In and Out is a big deal. Burger asked medium, but came out well done, bun was tasteless, got a mint insetead of malk shake I ordered. The toppings were almost tasteless (did like the jalepenos). In this style of burger join I prefer Bagger Dave's, but will stick with sidetrack. I did like the fries.

                      Bagger Dave's
                      859 W Eisenhower Pkwy, Ann Arbor, MI 48103