Just prior to Christmas, I stopped by a half-abandoned strip mall spot on Adams, just south of M59 Hall Rd, to get my kid some Chinese takeout food. It’s named Asian Express and is between Meijer and Walmart, adjacent to Panera and Burn Fitness. By Rochester/Rochester Hills standards it was decent (sorry, I can’t deny having an obnoxious attitude about affluent towns where a Mr B’s and a Hamlin Pub are considered “good”). But, while I was packing up my stuff, I noticed that they had a rather guarded copy of a Chinese language menu behind the counter.
Because I’m old, I’m not really in to the “secret menu items” thing. Nevertheless, in this type of case, I was drawn to return. It was worth it, and I’ll soon be back a third time. I’m thinking IndyGirl and Grouper, at least, may want to check this place out, due to proximity. Granted, others may not want to drive super far.
I had a hotpot made from HOUSE fermented napa cabbage, with baby back ribs braised inside along with the addition of clear noodles made from sweet potato starch. I thought it was very nice. $13.99 and very big (photo attached). It’s also available as vegan, upon request—with tofu (I’d probably request mushrooms or something instead of tofu; but, whatever).
We also had the ma po tofu. This was a Sichuanese dish. The co-owner/chef is from northeastern China (think Shenyang near Korean peninsula), so while good, it wasn’t exactly home cooking. Big and rich, and less than $10.00, but it will be a while before I circle back to that one. I also got fried noodles with beef, but I think that more came out of the American recipe book.
The nice owner came out and spoke with my wife (in Mandarin) and urged us to next time order the Spicy Cumin Beef, and the Sichuan Spicy Seafood Hotpot (big and expensive) next time. I’ll have to wait until I have a larger group before taking on that $26 seafood hotpot. So, the owner secondarily suggested that I order “Hot Chicken (say Chinese style…and, don’t say the word spicy).” This must be carefully specified as it is not on any menu, and it is different from the “Hot and Spicy Chicken” off the American menu. And, yes, there is a rather tough language barrier, making things even more hazardous. BTW, if you want to go really rogue, you can even order off-menu spicy fried chicken stomachs.
This place can get very crowded with college kids looking for a chop suey pig-out, and I don’t say that disparagingly. So, you may want to be selective with the hour of your visit, or call ahead. FYI—brown rice is available, and the tea is more Korean style, with roasted rice augmenting the tea leaves. Since the owner couple is Chinese but ethnic Korean, and from a province in China near Korea, there are a couple Korean dishes on offer, too. Maybe for my fourth visit.
One last little anecdote: I was grousing about this eve’s nasty ice storm that I braved in order to get to the food. But, the owner replied that her son recently enlisted in the US Army and has just been stationed in Alaska for the winter. I gathered that it wasn’t the first choice destination of those recruits.