ak994's Profile

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new dumpling restaurant Ann Arbor/Ypsi area

Really anxious to try the place, though it's a hike for me. Will be a challenge to convince myself to skip Casablanca for dumplings, but life is full of tough choices.

Jun 30, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

So is it just me, or did this spring's Detroit Restaurant Week go over like a lead balloon?

We went (back) to Top of the Pontch, though with a 9pm reservation because that was all we could get. Food was great, service was wonderful and beyond.

I think part of the (relative, based on reservation non-availability) disinterest is that so many places Downtown and environs have opened lately, people were all dined (and budgeted) out. I also agree that the menus didn't promise irresistible "deals."

We also went to Bacco for the 13th Anniversary specials, expecting to be blown away though we were not. For whatever reason we were anticipating food like we'd had at Mario Batali's NYC places, and Bacco was nowhere close. Granted Italian isn't our thing-- maybe it's a different region of Italy. We found the Bacco service almost irritatingly over-the-top, but what will keep us from returning is the other diners. The world I live in just isn't that superficial, so I was uncomfortable there.

Jun 02, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Thai Food Sundays 2015: Buddhist Temple (Warren) [DTW]

Next one Sunday. I'll take Thai food for Memorial Day weekend!

May 22, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

The Root - White Lake, MI- Detroit area

And everyone's aware owner/chef is opening a place in Hazel Park, right? He's promoted a chef at White Lake, presumably to assume more responsibility when he's not around.


May 22, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Anybody have the inside scoop as to when Katoi is opening? [DTW]

That building on Michigan Ave is progressing at a snail's pace. I don't know the latest estimate for Katoi opening there. News today is that they'll be setting up shop in the old Jerusalem Garden space on 5th in Ann Arbor for the summer. I suppose driving to Ann Arbor for Katoi is beer than no Katoi at all ...

May 21, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Thai Food Sundays 2015: Buddhist Temple (Warren) [DTW]

Dates for the rest of the 2015 season, subject to verification ASAP since this list looks strange to me.

BTW, I was disappointed in the number sellers (some temporary substitutes), the variety, and in some cases quality of the dishes offered today. I've been assured more of the regular sellers will be back for next market. I'm thinking they might have assumed a lighter turnout for today than they actually got.

May 03, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Anybody have the inside scoop as to when Katoi is opening? [DTW]

Proprietor says "Ha. July...I hope."

Delay has been caused by slow progress on the building, and nothing else. In the meantime, watch for Katoi pop-ups at Pop!, revolver, Motor City Wine's Sundaylicious and whatever other options may prevent themselves.

Apr 30, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Thai Food Sundays 2015: Buddhist Temple (Warren) [DTW]

May 3, indeed! Don't know what I was thinking! Good thing their big, colorful flyer is correct.

Anyone know the rest of the dates for this season?

Apr 30, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Thai Food Sundays 2015: Buddhist Temple (Warren) [DTW]

The first one of the season is this Sunday, May 5, from about 10:30am. It's an outdoor event, cash only, a benefit for the temple. I don't yet have the rest of the schedule; usually it is more-or-less every other Sunday.

Apr 29, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Dearborn recs

I'd go to Cedarland for sure, unless you mean you do not want the kids to see females in head scarves. They do have a kids' menu (though predictably burgers and nuggets) but splitting an order of grilled kabobs (meat-on-a-stick) or one of their many chicken dishes would be easy. Of all the places I go in Dearborn, Cedarland is where I see the most families with kids-- with the possible exception of Shatila, which I would recommend for their dessert!


Mar 22, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Dinner near Cinema Detroit

Now that it's BEFORE the movie, I'd go to Mudgie's probably-- cute, affordable, good-- plus interesting and extensive beverage options. Also I'd want to split a Sweet Betty for dessert, which to me is reason to go there in and of itself.

Midtown Shangri-la is fine to quite good, depending on what you order. Best (and most fun) bet is their menu-driven dim sum. I avoid their American-Chinese "combo plates" (because, why?) and also shy away from anything deep fried. I've had some less than stellar fried food from there. No idea whether the problem was the fry cook or if that particular deep fryer just does not get hot enough. They seemed aware of the problem when pressed about it, so may have it resolved by now. I'd happily go back if it was convenient, though if I want Amer-Asian food I'll go to Ferndale/Oak Park Tai Fai and for actual Chinese you'll find me at Trizest way out in Sterling Heights. Neither of those is relevant to this conversation though.

I wonder about the Peking Duck (two course) at Midtown Shangri-la, so I may try that one day.

Mar 14, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Dinner near Cinema Detroit

On a Thursday? What time is "afterward"? I think both Slows-to-Go and (my first thought) Midtown Shangri-La close at 9pm. Actually Midtown Shangri-La website lists 10pm, but I thought I recalled the kitchen closing earlier than that.

Bucharest/Park Bar are of course open late. Be sure to have them hold the mayo if you get a shawarma-- never have figured out why they put both garlic sauce and mayo on those things.

The kitchen at the newly-opened Cornerstone Barrel House Grill stays open until 10pm, while both Foran's Grand Trunk and the newly-reinvented Checker Bar do food until midnight.

Here's one way to look at the universe of what's available in the area at all, though I'm not sure whether food from places that are primarily bars (Bronx) is included. http://goo.gl/NPxzxb

Oh and the pies (both savory and sweet) from Dangerously Delicious inside Third Street bar are incredibly good.

Mar 13, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Grand Rapids MI: you're getting a Trader Joe's!

I think it is exciting because that means they're branching out some in Michigan. If they're going into GR, can Traverse City be far behind? That's what I'm hoping for, ultimately!

Trader Joe's does have a Request a Store page, for anyone who might agree with me. :-)


Feb 12, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Oysters on the half shell, DTW

Selden Standard has them. I've seen them there. $18/half dozen. I've no idea whether they're good. I won't touch the things. Not so easy getting in there on a Friday either, unless maybe you go very early.


Feb 11, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Revolver [DTW]

VTB is correct.

Went last Monday for a make-up dinner postponed from the previous Friday. Brad Greenhill's Thai food (Katoi is his coming-for-spring brick & mortar) drew us there. We were happily surprised at how interesting and fun it turned out to be! Of course being seated with the architect and business partner for the new space was an added plus.

Feb 07, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Michigan Spanish purveyors of food

If you mean general hispanic (Mexican, etc) as opposed to Spain-Spanish, there are all of Honey Bee La Colmena, E & L Supermercado, Azteca and Prince Valley all fairly close to each other in southwest Detroit.

Jan 16, 2015
ak994 in Great Lakes

Costco in Michigan Oct to Dec

Costco metro Detroit currently has Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash pasta sauce. I don't recall if it's $7 or $8 for the two-jar pack, but it otherwise sells from $6 (when on sale at Meijer) to $8 or $9 per jar. I love the stuff so always stock up when I see it at Costco.

Sadly they do not even make it available every fall. They just offer it whenever-- sadly not even once per year.


Nov 01, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Dinner at El Asador, drinks at Sugar House (SW Detroit)

re El Barzon prices-- last I asked I was told these prices are more current than the ones on their own website-- http://www.opentable.com/restaurant/p...

re my wish that Chef Luis would amp up the flavors at El Asador-- I really meant flavor intensity, not heat. I'm not much a fan of heat at all, but give me the reduced stock, the balsamic syrup, a little extra seasoning in anything generally. (Okay not balsamic in Mexican, but you get the idea I'm sure.) One of the reasons I love Brad Greenhill's food is that he's really, really good at that-- you can definitely TASTE the flavors in anything he presents. Actually that was the draw of Chef Ed's Weekday Cafe as well-- different flavor palettes from each of those guys, but flavor intensity across the board.

So many chefs smoke, and that seems so contradictory to me since I remember (former smoker here) how smoking suppresses senses of both taste and smell. I often wonder how they can cook and produce such good results when they themselves can't really, fully taste the food. I don't know whether El Asador Chef Luis is a smoker or not. Maybe he isn't and that's why his dishes seem to be missing the flavor intensity I crave. That may be it. It may be that I've grown addicted to what amounts to over-seasoning born of some chefs' need to break through their own smoke-suppressed taste buds.

Oct 29, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Dinner at El Asador, drinks at Sugar House (SW Detroit)

I've been popping in to El Asador since its very early days, trying to figure out how well I like it. Though the other places over there vary in quality, there are all quite basic Jaliscan fare. I've been hoping for some Baja (fish tacos, slaw, crema, etc)and hoped El Asador would be the place. Sort of.

I'm very familiar with and comfortable in that neighborhood, so "sketchy" sounds strange to me. To be sure it is more so after dark. I'm hoping recent DPD round-ups of gang members in that area will help.

I wonder how many are aware Chef Luis Garza (owner/chef) was a cook at Andiamo, then founding Exec Chef at Vicari's Rojo Mexican Bistro chain. If you've ever eaten at Rojo (or just seen photos and read reviews) you'll notice similarities in the food. Rojo's cuisine was criticized for looking pretty but tasting bland (as to flavor intensity rather than heat) and that is what I'm finding with El Asador so far. Whether this is due to the chef's Andiamo clientele-pleasing roots or whether he just likes the food that way I do not know, but I definitely wish he'd amp it up. And get rid of the bean mush, please!

Another thing I find interesting about the place is that it's often mentioned as an off-hours favorite of other local chefs-- even some who own their own highly-regarded places. Because I can't believe those guys would be raving about the same food I'm finding only okay, I expect there's a bit of cheffly "how about ..." going on when they're there. I need to time my visits better!

For the moment though, I'll be heading back to Nuestra Familia when I want a sure thing. Or to El Barzon on days when I'm willing to put up with spotty service, strange attitudes and high prices just for their Chile en Hogada.


Oct 28, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Best restaurants in Traverse City area?

I second Burritts, but I go for the fish sausage rather than the whitefish spread. The sausage comes cooked, and I eat it cold though I suppose you could warm it if you really wanted to.

9 Bean Rows in Suttons Bay is my favorite place up that way-- great farm-to-table food, wonderful service, comfortable surroundings.

In Traverse City I'm a fan of Cook's House, but with the caveat of being careful where you're seated. The tables are soooo close together, two adjacent two-tops feels like a four. Last time there we had really, really superficial, pretentious, obnoxious inebriated "dining companions" which rather ruined the experience for us. No idea how to avoid that except to go when they're not so busy-- whenever that might be. Imaginative, meticulously prepared food, though.

Stella is wonderful too, though I think best experienced at dinner when you can take the time to savor it.

I love Georgina's. If you'd enjoy very intense flavors and don't mind a creative spin on some ethnic standards give it a try. I'll have the Ropa and the Vaca Frita, please! The place is small and fills up fast. Supposedly they take reservations but I can't imagine how that could quite work as there always seems to be a line. We just double-check their opening time the day before, and show up early. I enjoy the food enough that I'll eat if for Sunday brunch as well.

For quicker, more casual fare I enjoy Harvest, which is the brick & mortar cousin to the Roaming Harvest (Little Fleet) truck. They serve brunch also, though I haven't been for that. http://roamingharvest.com/harvest/menu/

The food at Patisserie Amie is a treat, but the crowds are not. It might be okay at this time of year, though. http://chezperes.files.wordpress.com/...

Amie transforms into a French restaurant, Chez Perez in the evening. I've not tried it though.

Oct 16, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Detroit in November

By November I think both Selden Street Standard and Gold Cash Gold will be open-- they're currently hiring. And maybe also La Rondinella.

Selden Street Standard, located between Downtown and Midtown, is Andy Hollyday's new place. He was exec chef at Roast from opening until about a year ago when he left to go on his own. Note other former Roast folks tagged along.


Gold Cash Gold is on Michigan Ave in Corktown-- near Nemos's if you know the local sports bars. Phil Cooley (Slow's) put it together and hired Chef Josh Stockton


La Rondinella is Dave Mancini's (Supino) new spot, going into the space right next door to his current place. Supino is pizza only, he'll be doing more extensive Italian at La Rondinella.


Almost forgot these-- Chef Kate Williams' 2 new eateries over in the GAR Building (Republic and Parks & Rec) are coming along (floor tiles the other day), and I thought Craig Lieckfelt (Guns & Butter) was planning a Fall opening at his brick & mortar on Broadway as well.



My nominee for Best New Food Item in Metro Detroit for 2014 is easily the Khao Soi from Chef Brad Greenhill's Katoi, currently selling out of Two James Distillery on Michigan Ave in Corktown. If you enjoy south asian noodle soups at all, it's well worth the short drive. Location is more-or-less kitty-corner from Slow's.


Top of the Pontch was one of our recent Detroit Restaurant Week stops. The food (I had the Japanese tasting menu) was top notch, as were the space, the service and the view. Chef is Justin Vaiciunas.


Oct 05, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Mario Batali finds in Michigan

FYI the people running Hearth & Vine when Batali first patronized and liked it are now at 9 Bean Rows in Suttons Bay. That's not to say Hearth & Vine isn't good (or good again), however 9 Bean Rows is my current overall favorite dining destination in the greater Traverse City/Leelenau area. Their food is interesting and very solid, beverages (Tandem Cider!) are what I like, service is superb+ and the place is charming (without being cutesy) and comfortable. I love their simple but serene back patio. Prices are moderate, which is of course a plus as well.

Oct 01, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Burmese & Malaysian in Lansing-- Anyone Tried It? (DTW, Lansing)

They posted their first photos to Facebook last March 17. Whether they were open before then I do not know.

I've not been happy with Satay House at all. They offer limited Malaysian items and those I've tried have lacked flavor intensity. My standard is Taste Good Malaysian Cuisine in Elmhurst, Queens NY plus a few other spots around NYC. Mostly I'm on the hunt for very vibrant Curry Laksa, though I also appreciate rojak, rendang and roti canai.

On the other hand an acquaintance who grew up in Thailand and has traveled widely in South Asia enjoys Satay House very much.

The only curry laksa (by whatever name) I've found worth eating in the midwest has been from the Katoi truck in Corktown. Certainly it's pricey at $12.50 for a disposable bowl, but the flavor is all there. I think he has plans to move to a brick & mortar space fairly soon. Hopefully his portion sizes will increase once he does that.

My interest in Naing Myanmar is primarily for their Burmese dishes, especially the tea leaf salad.

Sep 22, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Burmese & Malaysian in Lansing-- Anyone Tried It? (DTW, Lansing)

I am mostly wondering if it's worth the drive from metro Detroit to Lansing for Naing Myanmar Family Restaurant. They do have the signature (?) Burmese tea leaf salad and some soupy noodle bowls that sound promising.

Tempted as I was, I never did make the drive to the Burmese places in Ft Wayne so I was of course pleased to learn of this one so much closer.

Anyone been?






Sep 20, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Trip Report - Traverse City, Kalkaska, Leland, Fenton, Ann Arbor, Port Clinton

Apparently this



115 reviews for a place in an obscure location is impressive.

Sep 19, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

So if you were going to lunch in Birmingham, MI where would you go

A bit late, I know, but I'd go to The Stand. Because I've been wanting to try it. Chef Paul Grosz, formerly (or technically still, I guess) of Cuisine Detroit is there now.

Sep 19, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Trip Report - Traverse City, Kalkaska, Leland, Fenton, Ann Arbor, Port Clinton

Wow, no idea!

We had Curry Pineapple Chancho and Vaca Frita. Loved both so much we tried to go back the next day but the wait was so impossibly long we had to move on.

The chancho is served over white rice, but the sauce was so wonderful we'd have appreciated anything to sop it all up! Not saying the rice was bad (or good) it was just sort of there but much valued as a carrier for that sauce!

The vaca frita, too, was phenomenal. I remember the beans were flavorful. The rice again became saturated in sauce which was fine by me! I'm a major plantain fan, but recall there only being a few slices of "just fine" quality.

After quire a few standout dining experiences over a week in Traverse City area, it's the craving for more of Georgina's dishes that tempts us to drive four hours for dinner! And we *almost* did, last weekend.

For context, we're fans of very intense flavors, regulars at Thai temple Sunday Markets and adventurous eaters generally.

Sep 17, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Detroit suggestions for lunch and dinner in the Motown Museum /Institute of Arts area

I agree that the W Warren strip in Dearborn is fun just because there's so much in addition to restaurants there-- and of course there are good restaurants (Cedarland!) to be found.

Royal Kabob in Hamtramck is also really good though, and they do bake their pita on site. For wrap sandwiches they use the packaged pita (from Yasmeen in Dearborn I think), but they serve their own fresh baked, puffy pitas with entrees.

A slightly tangential but bread-related question-- has anyone tried the new Athens Souvlaki in the Penobscot Building downtown? It's a sister restaurant to their Southfield location. I've never eaten there, but have been told they've made their own pita since 1966.


Sep 13, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

So *this time*, Andiamo's is *really* going to be *GREAT*!!!!! [Detroit area]

From the comments to that Freep article--

"From the article "Vicari says he doesn’t expect much difference in prices". I compared an old menu (Sterling Heights) with the new one (West Bloomfield). Five comparisons (Old Price / New Price): Soup: ($4.95 / $6.00) Lasagna: ($17.95 / $21.00) Fetticune Alfredo ($16.95 / $19.00) Whitefish Scaliana ($21.95 / $26.00) Ribeye Steak ($36.95 / $40.00). Between 8-20% increases across the board seems a big 'difference' to me."

I had gotten dragged there several times in past years by older relatives. Why would I bother to go now? So may new places to try-- Wright & Co, Top of the Pontch, more casual ones like Johnny Noodle King and (repeat visits to) Katoi. What in the world would motivate me to go to an Andiamo?

Also really the difference in the food between (Andiamo's) Rojo and (same chef's independent) El Asador is so striking, I have to wonder what it was about the Andiamo organization that kept his hands tied while he was there. That example alone leaves a bad (or should I say bland?) taste in my mouth re Andiamo.

Sep 13, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes

Detroit suggestions for lunch and dinner in the Motown Museum /Institute of Arts area

Sorry about your Byblos disappointment. Would have sent you here but you specified DIA neighborhood. Next time! That or Cedarland in Dearborn also has the pita you like.


Sep 07, 2014
ak994 in Great Lakes