02 June 2012

Ann Arbor: Chia Shiang

Seva looked like a good restaurant.  Lots of vegan choices.  Mac and cheese, banh mi, stir fry, salads...  But alas.  I'm not the only one with dietary restrictions. The place just didn't blow one of our skirts up.  Since I'm NOT the most important person in the world (shocking, I know), I swallowed my excitement and found a suitable back-up.

Well, Chia Shiang turned out to be more than suitable.  Let me tell you, I've never been so happy while listening to elevator music.

Chia Shiang
2016 Packard St
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734) 741-0778

The menu read like a novel.  Several of its 850,000 pages were devoted to vegan dishes.  The place didn't get this Certified Veg-Friendly Veg Michigan sticker on the door for nothing.  We had oodles of choices, so the decision-making process took a while.  Luckily we had the smooth jazz version of Let It Be to help us along.

I chose Sue Gi with Black Bean Sauce for $13.  Sue gi, we learned from the menu, is soy-based chicken.  It's hard to spot in the picture.  In fact, it was hard for me to spot when the plate arrived in front of me.  I said, "Where's the sue gi?  Is there sue gi in here?"  Since I have no volume control, our server overheard and responded politely, "Yes, that's the sue gi."  Next time I opened my mouth, I was shoveling food into it.

There's a circular bit in the bottom left corner of the picture - that's the sue gi.  It blended well with the bamboo shoots, pea pods, and mushrooms.  The quality of that stuff was great; chewy, realistic, but without that nagging sense of horror I'd feel at consuming a fellow animal.  The sauce turned the whole plate into good Chinese-style comfort food.  Overall, the dish wasn't too impressive, but I enjoyed it.

Matt, who like me is a sucker for eggplant, got Sauteed Eggplant with Garlic Sauce for 12 bucks.  You know when eggplant is so perfect and tender it melts in your mouth?  Score.  Not only did it fulfill all our eggplant expectations, but it also had a fantastic spicy, smoky, creamy quality.  If I could learn to make eggplant like that, I'd be set for life.  Becca's gonna teach me.

Last but not least, we sampled Becca's Sauteed Fried Tofu with Orange Sauce for $10.  WOW, you guys.  Most favorite.  A lot of Chinese restaurants will open a brick of tofu, chop it up, throw it in the stir fry like it's a vegetable and call it cooked.  Not Chia Shiang!  This stuff was heavenly.  It had a super satisfying depth of flavor that penetrated all the way into the middle of each bite of tofu.  It had a slightly spicy, toothsome bite.  Man, that was good.

Thus ends our trip to Ann Arbor.  The following day we had some airport food in Lansing.  I won't be blogging about that because I'm sure we've all had Gardenburgers at those restaurants that serve only variations of burgers, fries, and cheese.  Interestingly, now that I look at the menu of the two cafes at LAN, the Gardenburger I had doesn't seem to appear on them.  But you CAN order a "Bucket of Popcorn" with free refills for four bucks.  So I don't know why you wouldn't fly through the Lansing Airport.

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