Eat! Lansing

August 25, 2008

AI Fusion

Filed under: East Lansing, Japanese, Korean — Jack Lumanog @ 3:30 pm

AI Fusion
2827 East Grand River East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 853-3700
Mon.-Thurs.: 11:30am – 10:00pm; Fri.: 11:30am – 11:00pm; Sat.: Noon – 11:00pm; Sun.: Noon – 10:00pm

First, the restaurant is called “AI” and not “A1” (like the steak sauce). It’s hard to tell from first glance at their signage.  And, it’s a beautiful restaurant on the inside.  There is a lot of intricate wood work throughout the place even with this impressive lattice work that hangs above the dining area with some tatami rooms off to the side.  There’s an impressive fish pond right off the bar area as well. 

Sadly, the decor is where the impressive part of AI ends.  If you are looking for fair, overpriced non-descript Asian food, AI is your place.  If you had higher hopes judging from the interior and the menu prices, then you’ll end up leaving disappointed and a bit gouged in the wallet as I did.

As soon as you walk inside, you are greeted with shouts of “Irashaimase!” (basically, “welcome”) from the sushi bar chefs.  Cute in a strange sort of way.  For some reason, Asian restaurants that still do this remind me of the mechanized Asian display of “It’s a Small World” from Disneyland.

Dinner for two adults and one child set us back nearly $60, tip included.  How did we get there?  We ordered one shrimp tempura appetizer ($7 for 4 shrimp tempura pieces, an onion ring and sweet potato) for my 4-year-old daughter and that served as her entree as there isn’t a children’s menu.  My wife’s first choice (Oishii Chicken) was no longer available on the menu along with a few other things pointed out by our waitress…not a good sign.  She ended up with a Teppanyaki (iron hot plate) of filet mignon and chicken for $18.  I ordered the Bulgogi for $16.  Not the best Bulgogi I’ve ever had but it hit the spot for a Sunday night dinner.  At first, I was overwhelmed with how large the portion size was.  But, as I started to pick at my pile of beef, I realized it was propped up but a lot of frozen broccoli pieces and some shredded cabbage.  Both of our entrees came with miso soup, salad in a very sweet citrusy dressing with way too much orange rind on top and our choice of steamed rice or fried rice.

I also ordered a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with dinner at $6 which was probably the best deal of the night considering that I got a healthy pour with my meal.

I’m still scratching my head at the whole AI Fusion experience.  It’s an odd mix of Japanese and Korean menu items along with a full sushi bar that is so overpriced and overrun with “specialties” featuring lots of cream cheese, imitation crab meat and lobster, even.  I was underwhelmed on just about all fronts:  taste, value and service … except for the magnificent decor.  The decor will impress every time if nothing else in the restaurant delivers.

August 13, 2008

Golden Wok

Filed under: Best of, Chinese, East Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 4:41 pm

Golden Wok
2755 E Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 333-8322
Mon. – Thurs.: 11:00AM – 12:00AM; Fri. & Sat. : 11:00AM – 2:00AM; Sun.: 11:00AM – 11:00PM

Golden Wok is probably one of my favorite restaurants in Greater Lansing.  I discovered this place when Googling “dim sum in Greater Lansing”.  On weekends over the lunch hours, Golden Wok serves dim sum (Cantonese for basically “order until your heart’s content”) in the traditional way out of wheeled steam carts tableside.  They offer all kinds of great small plates served piping hot to your table.  My favorites: siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings) and shrimp with tofu with black bean sauce.  A usual dim sum lunch on the weekends is about $20-$25 for a family and it’s quite fulfilling.  Dim sum is served every day but it’s not served from the carts Monday through Friday  —  but you order off of a menu and it’s not quite the same as the weekend service.

Their menu is very straightforward and is decently inexpensive.  One of my favorite menu items is their house special pan fried noodles  —  crispy egg noodles with “krab” (you know, imitation crabmeat which is basically pollock painted with red streaks), beef, pork and chicken in a rich brown sauce.  Golden Wok also just recently acquired a liquor license (which I’m starting to find out is a hard thing to come by in Michigan) which is rare for most of the Asian restaurants that I’ve visited in my year and a half of living here.  I rather enjoy a glass of chardonnay with my Chinese food every so often and I can finally do that here at Golden Wok!

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