Around Ann Arbor, Lucky Kitchen has that reputation of being just another cheap, greasy Chinese take-out for the college set. No one talks about Lucky Kitchen without using the word "Americanized". During my undergraduate years, I knew Lucky Kitchen as the place where American kids went for orange chicken and an egg roll.
But the Plymouth Road location is different.
Perhaps in an attempt to lure the massive Chinese student population living on or near UM's North Campus, this Lucky Kitchen has a "house specials" menu posted on the wall, full of pretty true-to-form Cantonese-ish dishes.
pork and string bean
pork and rice cake
tilapia in black bean sauce
zha jiang mein
malaysian chicken & malaysian chicken curry
beef noodle soup
beef wide noodle
pork with extra firm tofu
salt and pepper shrimp
stir-fry bok choy in oyster sauce
...and a number of others, about 25-30 dishes total
These dishes are very good--some of the best Cantonese food I've had in Michigan. They're a bit greasy, but they're quick and very full-flavored. I don't think any of the dishes tops $9.
The pork and rice cake is one of my perpetual favorites. The oyster-based sauce is flavorful without being exceedingly heavy. They manage cooking times perfectly--long enough to cook the pork through without toughening/overcooking, just long enough to soften the rice cake into its chewy perfection, and a quick turn of the greens to keep them crisp.
Tonight I tried the Malaysian chicken, which is sort of a Cantonese interpretation of Malaysian-style flavors. This was really fantastic. Like, craveable fantastic. They use little morsels of chicken in a very light cornstarch-type batter. They're crisp-fried, then covered in a soy-based sauce that's gingery, sweet, a bit vinegary, salty, spicy, and just so lively. Includes zucchini, onion, green pepper. Served with rice.
I also tried the beef wide noodle, which was sort of mediocre compared to the aforementioned dishes. Not bad at all--and the sauce was actually very good, typical Cantonese oyster and soy sauce. But the noodles were standard wide rice noodles, pre-dried variety. Would've loved to see fresh noodles, but I know that's expecting far too much, and asking so would be gluttonously greedy. A good dish, though, and I'd definitely order again if I were in the mood for a Chinese noodle dish.
...But until then, I have way more of this "house specials" menu to work through!
Does anyone know if the other Lucky Kitchen location on Central Campus has a similar menu?
1753 Plymouth Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105