I watched the man through the window stretch a length of dough arms width apart, bring the ends together, twist it, slap it on his work table, then repeat the process until the noodles were ready to be cooked. These noodles were about to be my dinner.
My husband and I had decided to get take-out from Lan City, Ypsilanti’s newest hand-pulled noodle restaurant, but no one answered the phone after three tries, so we decided to dine in instead. When we arrived, we saw why no one had answered the phone - Lan City was hopping! It was so crowded that people waited in chairs outside despite the chilly wind.
After waiting a few minutes, we were given a number and then we waited outside for about 20 more minutes. We were asked if we minded sharing a table, and we said no. The table was a large round-top, and two other couples were seated with us. We all chit-chatted a bit, one fellow patron telling us about his trip to the Great Wall of China and another a story from when he was young and his brother climbed onto one of the famous Qin Terracotta Army horses during a traveling exhibit. Both of the other groups had eaten at Lan City before and were enthusiastic fans. I noticed that about half of the restaurant patrons were speaking Chinese, and I took this as further endorsement of Lan City’s quality and authenticity.
I was not disappointed. My beef noodle bowl had a rich broth, juicy slices of beef, scallions, and mild yet flavorful noodles. My husband’s pad thai was both sweet and savory. I ordered a Thai milk tea, while he got the rose petal milk tea. Both were sweet, the latter also having a rich flavor. If you are a bubble tea fan, you will find that on the menu, as well.
For appetizers, I highly recommend the satisfyingly crispy crab rangoons. The homemade scallion pancake was also delicious. Other items that enticed were various dumplings, egg rolls, spring rolls, beef and lamb sticks, samosas, and more. The noodle bowls came with pork, beef, chicken, duck, seafood, or tomato, both spicy and non, hot and cold. The menu also included more recognizable entrees such as beef with broccoli, General Tso’s chicken, curry chicken, and more. The two dessert options were mochi ice cream and lily flower soup with papaya snow fungus, which I fully intend to return and try one day when I am less full of delicious noodles.
It was clear to all at the table that the family owned and operated Lan City could already stand to expand its location or perhaps add a second. Despite the packed dining room, our orders were promptly taken and the food arrived quickly. So don’t let the line scare you! It’s worth the wait.
Lan City is located at 2612 Washtenaw Avenue in Ypsilanti, open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more info, call 734-896-3888 or 734-896-3889, or visit lancitynoodles.com.
North Burns Park has a new, fun, and interesting place to grab a quick –and healthy—bite to eat at Poçai, located at the corner of Packard and Woodlawn. The name is a combination of poke (Hawaiian cubed fish; pronounced POH-keh) and açaí (an oft-touted superfood berry; pronounced ah-sah-ee), both of which feature prominently on the menu in the form of poke bowls and açaí bowls.
A poke bowl is a native Hawaiian dish comprised of cubed fish, traditionally ahi, served over sushi rice (similar to Japanese chirashizushi). Poçai’s poke bowls are made up of one or two proteins (depending on if you choose medium or large size), citrus-based OG Ponzu sauce, pickled red onion, edamame, cucumber, shallot/garlic crunch, and gluten free sriracha mayonnaise on brown rice. The protein options are tuna, salmon, and tofu. Add avocado for $1.50. Vegan? Ask for the vegan sriracha mayo.
The açaí bowl is like a dairy free yogurt parfait with a smoothie base comprised of açaí berry, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and almond milk and topped with granola, blueberries, banana, strawberries, chia seeds, peanut butter, and coconut flakes. For an extra 50 cents, you can add almond butter, deluxe granola, chocolate chips, or nutella. Gluten free granola is also available.
The other menu items are two kinds of toast, avocado and tomato-hummus, and two kinds of salads, kale or chopped. The toasts can be made vegan and gluten free upon request, and the salads are both gluten free and can be made vegan. As for beverages, there are three types of La Croix, lime, pamplemousse, or passion fruit, and bottled water.
The bowls are packed with nutrients and flavors that blend beautifully on the tongue. They are also filling! I was quite happy with my medium sized açaí bowl and can of passion fruit La Croix. My dining companion was equally pleased with his medium poke bowl.
Poçai is small, and indoor seating is very limited. There are tables and chairs set up outside along the sidewalk, weather providing, and the friendly and accommodating staff will bring your food out to you. The menu is designed for easy takeout, though, so it’s convenient to drop in for a bowl-to-go, as well. Food is made fresh and to order and is delivered quickly. There is no parking lot, but we found plenty of free street parking, though you are limited to one hour.
Poçai is located at 1232 Packard Street in Ann Arbor and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To call in your order, dial 734-780-7359.
If you are visiting Ann Arbor and looking for a place to eat, one restaurant stands out in the guidebooks and online recommendations. Afternoon Delight, located at the corner of Liberty and Fifth in the heart of downtown is known for their breakfast and lunch hours and catering service. Afternoon Delight has offered an array of healthy, fresh food options for 40 years.
During the week, Afternoon Delight service is cafeteria style, and I have spoken to many people, since I moved to Ann Arbor eight years ago, who are fans of their sizeable salad bar. On the weekends, service switches to the more traditional sit-down table service, offering Afternoon Delight distinct twists on traditional breakfast staples such as the potato pancake eggs Benedict or pecan waffles with fruit and yogurt. (I also recommend the coffee, which isn’t anything fancy, its just good coffee).
The restaurant is packed on weekends, especially if you inadvertently go on the morning of U-M’s Homecoming football game, but it runs like a well-oiled machine. The staff is friendly and really takes charge of the line that extends out the door, so you don’t feel forgotten.
The hostess who took my name immediately referenced the character in the 1990’s film “Ferngully.” She was the second or third person in my entire life to make that connection (it’s even spelled the same, though I came before the movie), which honestly brightened my otherwise drizzly morning.
I was lucky to speak with founder and owner, Tom Hackett, about what sets Afternoon Delight apart in Ann Arbor’s ever changing foodscape and what keeps it going after all this time. “Consistency,” Hackett didn’t hesitate to answer. “I always make sure the products are the same… People wait in line for 45 minutes. You can’t disappoint them!”
And Hackett was absolutely right when he told me that people come back for decades. A few of the people in line around me were sharing stories with their children about when they used to come in during their student days, clearly relishing the chance to share their favorite breakfast spot with their loved ones.
Another contributor to Afternoon Delight’s staying power is its ability to change. They discontinued dinner service some time ago, and now the restaurant closes at 3 p.m., leaving the afternoon and evening to devote to their catering service, which, Hackett shared, is about 35% of the business these days. Afternoon Delight caters quite a bit with the University of Michigan, the hospital, and the schools, but will work with anyone.
While the catering menu (available on their website) includes many of Afternoon Delight’s customer favorites, it has a greatly expanded, unique menu for any occasion and any time of day. You will find, for example, boxed lunches, sandwich trays, party platters, and dessert trays. “[It] keeps us busy!” quipped Hackett.
Hopefully, they will be keeping busy for a long time yet!
Afternoon Delight is located at 251 East Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. Hours are Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, check out www.afternoondelightcafe.com or call 734-665-7513.