...and I'll be going back here, too. That's two places in the city of Detroit area that have been very good hits with me in the past week. I almost didn't go here, as I was actually on my way to Polish Village Cafe before I remembered that I'd been wanting to try this place.
It's a weird thing, their Asian-Mexican fusion menu, on the face of it. It'd be just as weird to see, say, an Indian-Southwestern American fusion. The two cuisines just don't seem to have anything much to do with each other, but that doesn't mean they can't work together, side-by-side. Weird? Fine, I'll spot that, but very good, as well.
A quick note about the place itself, and the people: very down-home, very cordial, very clean, and knowledgable. Al, the father, and his daughter Maria, are the most prevalent faces, but Megan is also there working tables, and even Maria's mother was there, though sort of behind the scenes. Very friendly people, proud of what they do, and they made me feel very welcome.
I'm a fan of strong flavors, and they really do some solid action with the food I had here. I leaned more toward the Asian side of the menu, as I wasn't as hungry for Mexican tonight, and Donna being the rice/noodle freak that she is, she'd be more interested in their Asian stuff, anyway. I was immediately drawn to something that jumped out on the menu to me, as something that not many places have, since (I believe) it can be problematic to get "right": flank steak. Marinated in a ginger/soy, the house recommends (rightly so) that it be ordered no more than medium, which I fully agreed to. I'd say that medium-rare would be even better, but that's just me. The flank steak was accompanied by their sweet slaw, and gazpacho green beans.
This is, to be sure, a generous portion of flank steak. The marinade taste is (as is often the case) far more prevalent at the beginning of the portion than at the end, mainly because your taste buds have gotten used to it. I liked that marinade, and I liked that steak. It was pretty tender, which is the biggest problem most places have with flank steak: it's often too well done, and can be tough as a result. This wasn't, but even so, the next time I get it, I'll ask for it to be either rare or medium-rare, and I think that it'll be just that much better, with a bit more red in it. Even so, it was plenty good, and I ate every bite of it, culminating with me getting the last of all that lovely marinade-mixed-with-steak-juice at the end of it. Wonderful, even if I had to break all the "Miss Manners" rules to consume that last little bit.
There's something about the side items I've been having lately. The sweet slaw that I had on the side of the steak was, to me, the star of the plate. I ordered more, gladly paying for the privilege. This is the kind of thing that just makes me very, very happy. I probably won't do justice describing it, but if you don't enjoy cilantro, you won't enjoy it. I happen to love cilantro, and thought it smashing. The gazpacho green beans were very summery, served cool, with some light salsa atop them. I liked those, too, and ate every one. There wasn't one single thing on that entire plate that I didn't enjoy, and the sweet slaw was just terrific.
I was talking with Al during a slow moment in the dining room, and he was telling me about their house-made salsas, and he graciously offered to allow me to try a couple of them: a habanero-mango salsa, and a smoke ghost salsa, with some chips. I liked both of them, though to me, the smoke ghost was the standout between the two. Big time smokey flavor, nice bite. The habanero-mango was good, too, but my jury's still out on mango salsa. I love mango all by itself, and having it mixed with other flavors just seems like it's too busy or something. I guess I'd rather just have the mango by itself. Still, I liked them both, and see why they do a bristling business with their salsas. Apparently they sell them at about 15 or so stores in the area.
It's a pretty small place, with maybe 30 or so seats, I'd guess (I didn't actually count them up). they do have a small outdoor seating area, but I chose inside by the window. When I arrived I was one of 2-3 tables there. When I left, the place had one available table, I think. It fills up *fast*, and I can see why.
There's a lot more of the menu I'd like to explore. The ginger-cilantro rice (a side for many of the dishes) certainly sounds promising to me, as do many of the other items on their menu. They make everything in-house with the exception of the tamales, which they procure from Mexicantown Bakery. I'm very much wanting to try their tres leches cake, but I would have been waddling out the door had I done so...that extra portion of sweet slaw was *so* worth it, though.
I spent about twice as much as I would have at PVC, but it was money well spent. I was impressed with them on every front, and I'm equally impressed that they would be able to pull off a good flank steak for $12.95. It's just not something you'll see on menus very often, and it's certainly something I enjoy when it's well-executed.
This place *will* be a destination for before/after Tigers games for me and people I do with. Donna's going to like it, too...I can already tell. I'm already looking forward to a reason to go back there. B+/A- territory, you betcha.
Polish Village Cafe
2990 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212