Obsessed & Addicted: Shangri-La

Christmas and New Years is coming up….looking for a place that’s open for some grub during the holidays that isn’t a fast food chain?  Look no further….I give you: Shangri-La Chinese Restaurant in West Bloomfield.

It should be of no shock or awe to anyone that I am obsessed with Asian food.

The place I chose to blog about in this entry should also be of no surprise to anyone. My few go to’s are well known in the area, and I’ve been going to them for 10-15 years…this included.

To some, my regular restaurants of choice are overrated, dirty, and have shit food.  To me, they satiate my hankerings.

Within the suburbs of Metro Detroit, it is rather difficult to find amazing places for traditional snacks and dishes that compare to China Towns in larger cities.  The places around here obviously don’t come close…but they’re as close as you’re going to get without having to travel to Toronto, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, etc.

As a premise, I want to elaborate on Chinese food I’ve had previously.  I have experienced Chinese food in many countries…Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand (which has a lot of Chinese influence), China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, even China Towns in Australia.

Every place does their own version and has their own spin relative to the audience they are catering to, but overall, Chinese food is Chinese food, and should always remind of you of such.

I don’t eat Chinese very often, but when I do, it is typically Dim Sum.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, think of Chinese style tapas (small plates).  Steamed, fried, flavorful delicacies brought to you in rolling carts for you to choose.  [FYI: Best dim sum I’ve had has been in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Canada]

One reason why I love it is because the portions are so small that you can order a wide variety of items without committing to large quantities, so if you end up hating it, it’s not a large or expensive enough dish for you to regret ordering it.

I often post photos from my Dim Sum excursions with my non dim sum familiar friends confused and questioning how I could consume such odd looking food.  How, you ask?  Because it’s fucking deliciousDUH.  Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Which leads me to the point of this entry.  Shangri-La has my FAVORITE Dim Sum in Metro Detroit.  They do have a location in Midtown as well, near the Wayne State campus, but the original is and always will be, in my opinion, the best.

I’ve been eating Dim Sum there for as long as I can remember.  They have late night dim sum there as well that goes until 2 AM, but I’ve noticed that their selection is quite limited at that time because they run out of the good stuff at lunch.

When you’re there on the weekend, these metal canisters are flying off the carts left and right…freshness guaranteed; but if you’re in a rush, waiting for a table may be unappealing.  I totally understand not wanting to wait because I know I get extremely hangry (hungry+angry) and pissy, but trust me…it is worth the wait.
On the weekdays when it’s not as busy, these small dishes sit in the carts sweating away their goodness for a good amount of time, waiting to be eaten.  Unfortunately, though the flavors are generally always consistently good, the texture may be lacking or subpar if they’ve been sitting out for too long.

Here are some of my favorites…

Pan fried noodles (add a little soy sauce and they are PERFECT), bean curd roll, shrimp and scallop roll, and chicken feet.

The brownish thing in the top middle is the bean curd AKA tofu skin.  Inside has juicy steamed meats and veggies.  Next to it is a rice flour wrapped dumpling with some herbs (chive or scallion maybe?) and seafood.  Lastly, my favorite: chicken feet.

Ok, I know a lot of people are turned off by chicken feet, even Chinese people…but I swear, they are delicious! They are soaked and steamed with this amazing salty sweet spicy marinade..yum.  I even got my husband into them and now when we go, we each get our own order!  You simply suck the skin off.  It sounds disgusting and dirty, but the texture is soft and chewy…but not impossibly chewy or rubbery like gizzards or tendons.

Salty spicy Quail on the left, and shrimp in rice roll on the right.
The quail is, I believe, deep fried.  Crispy on the outside, and so intensely juicy and succulent on the inside.  This bird is always cooked perfectly….and WAAAAY better than chicken or turkey or duck. It isn’t gamey like you’d imagine it to be.  The flavor of the meat is rather mild, but the salty spicy mix of herbs and spices really finishes this dish beautifully.
The shrimp in rice roll is another favorite of mine.  Steamed shrimp wrapped in a giant rice noodle, with sweet soy sauce on top.  I always ask for extra sauce because I like it to be completely drenched when I devour it.

On the right, you can see more chicken feet…we’ve got that covered already. [I am seriously obsessed]

On the top left we have steamed pork buns.  The steamed bread is super soft and fluffy, and the meat inside is red Chinese barbequed pork.  If you’re a beginner with dim sum, I highly highly suggest the steamed pork buns.  They are the most traditionally iconic, and least threatening dish.  Steamed pork buns have been around for many generations, and can be found on the streets in any China town or Chinese influenced region….think of it as the Chinese version of a hamburger…..fast, delicious, filling, bready and meaty.  There are obviously many variations, but this steamed “cha shao bao” or “char xiu bao” keeps the meat nice and juicy!
**TIP: make sure you take the little paper thing off the bottom, otherwise you may end up with some paper lodged in your throat or stuck in your molars!

Bottom left is a Taiwanese favorite: soup dumplings!  Ok these are definitely no where near the level of execution I have had the privilege to experience.  Traditionally, they are dumplings stuffed with pork with a soupy center.  When you take a bite, the soup should start to run out into your spoon (or mouth).  The experience should be one of a kind, and there are not many places that can make them exceptionally well.  Shangrila is certainly not the place to have a full blown experience, so no need to be hopeful.

Above, the picture shows shrimp/corn cakes, salty spicy squid (calamari), and pineapple buns.

The corn cakes don’t taste a whole lot like what you would think.  They are more like a lightly fried shrimp cake patty with some corn and other herbs mashed into it.  Pretty good when dipped in some hot sauce and soy sauce.

The calamari?  THE BEST.  Forget what you know about Italian or American calamari.  This beats every other type of calamari out there.  Crispy, chewy, salty, spicy….with that same herb concoction (peppers, garlic, onions, etc) they put on the quail.  So freaking delicious, I could eat several plates on my own.

The pineapple bun is probably my husband’s favorite.  It is unique in comparison to typical American pastries: pies, donuts, cakes, brownies.  This is special. It has a sweet crunchy flakey top, with a fluffy bread filled with a “pineapple” custard.  Frankly, it tastes nothing like pineapple…..at all….but still spectacular in its own right.

That’s all for now…have a safe and wonderful holiday season, everyone! 

 

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