Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chao Zhou, Madison Heights, Michigan

I've walked or driven past Chou Zhou a dozen times, meaning to stop in when I had a chance, but I never managed to be near there around lunchtime until today. I'd glad I did.

This is a very typical kind of soup/noodles/dim sum place that's common in cities with large Chinese neighborhoods but much less so around here. You won't find an Cantonese-American dishes- no General Tso's chicken, no egg rolls, no sweet-and-sour anything. You will find things like congee with squid and peanuts, Chinese Sausage and Rice, and Side Pork (pork belly) with Preserved Mustard Greens.

The menu consists of several sections, each of which features a particular kind of dish. Congee is a bland rice porridge that can be had with various additions- pork and preserved egg, squid, pork liver, frog, and more. Rice dishes are things like duck or pork served on a bed of rice.  There are also "Special" dishes, like brisket hot pot and kung pao chicken, noodle dishes, and soups, which are typically served in a very large bowl for one or more people.

For my first visit I ordered a bowl of congee with pork and preserved egg, pork sio mai, and beef chow fun noodles. All were good, if not great. The congee was a bit blander than the congee I used to get at the late and lamented Mandarin Dining in the same shopping center, but the two dim sum dishes were very flavorful. On the next visit Janet and I shared a bowl of Beef Brisket Noodle and a plate of Gai Lan with Chinese Sausage, both of which were excellent.

On my third visit I tried the Taiwanese Beef Noodle:

Probably the best Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup I've yet had. This one had a lot of ingredients you don't find in most versions, like pickled mustard green. It was pretty spicy, and delicious.

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