Eat! Lansing

August 25, 2008

AI Fusion

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

AI Fusion
http://www.ai-fusion.com/
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.

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July 7, 2008

Korea House

Filed under: East Lansing, Korean, Sushi — Jack Lumanog @ 7:56 pm

Korea House
Restaurant menu via allmenus.com
978 Trowbridge Rd, East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 332-0608‎
hours: M-Fri 11:00 am 9:30 pm, Sun: 12:30 pm 9:00 pm

(This is my first review here as a co-contributor so I hope I don’t screw this up.  Though some of this might be old hat to many of you Greater Lansing foodies, I’m still relatively new to town so cut me some slack!)

In my year and a half in Lansing so far, I’ve been faithful to Korea House when I get a craving for Korean food (there was that one indiscretion at Charlie Kang’s but I swear it was a one time thing and it’s over between us).  I usually go for a quick lunch and there’s plenty to choose from.  I usually get a craving for all the wonderful side dishes like pickled radish or kimchee.  The lunch menu has got lots of great eats priced at around $5.  The sushi bar is open during limited hours around lunch and dinner.  If you have a craving for sushi, this will more than satisfy.  But nothing mindblowing here.

For my money, I stick with the basics:  Galbi dinner portion with a can of Diet Coke.  It’s an enormous amount of food for $10 and it’s great every single time.  The bulgogi runs a close second on an item not to be missed on this menu.  Classic, straightforward Korean food served efficiently and inexpensively. 

Not to be nitpicky, but the service is not the greatest in town.  There are always a lot of waitresses buzzing around and they are the most efficient bunch I’ve ever seen.  If I can get a smile out of any of them, I feel as though I’ve accomplished something pretty spectacular!

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