NOTE: If you're printing this post out as a guide to what to order at Chia Shiang, make sure you also get our follow-up post with some additional great dishes we've discovered since we wrote this. You won't be sorry!
For many years Chia Shiang has been the Chinese restaurant of choice for local vegetarians with their wide range of soy and wheat gluten faux-meat dishes, as well as being one of a couple that serve Malaysian dishes. They have since expanded their restaurant to cover Shanghai and Sichuan dishes, and now seem to be the place to go for the local mainland Chinese community. We discovered this when I asked a co-worker from Beijing where I could find the best Sichuan food in Ann Arbor, unknown to me Joe was reading about Chia Shiang on the Ann Arbor Food email list. (I'm on the list, but I am woefully slow at checking my email.) So in one of those odd moments, we both suggested the place for dinner on the same night. When we got there, a large wedding reception was in full swing, complete with wedding toasts in Mandarin.
I recommend starting at the back of the menu and working forward — many of their most interesting and authentic dishes are in the last half of their extensive menu. They've got all the standards up front, as well as the meatless and Malaysian items, but we've been enjoying exploring the latter half of the menu.
Get there before noon on Sunday and you may get a chance to try the above fabulous dumplings or "soup" or sticky rice dumplings in the following photos. (REMEMBER: you can click on any of these images to get a larger and tastier version!)
Xiao Long Bao! Pork and crab stuffed "Soup" dumplings — a burst of broth in every dumpling, so watch out! We advise letting them cool a bit. They definitely make these on the premises, because we've gotten to watch...
Chicken with chestnuts — Chinese bbq sauce-like flavor with whole roasted chestnuts. (Not water chestnuts, chestnuts as in "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...") Remember to order this without bones, unless you're culturally Chinese enough to enjoy disarming small pieces of chicken with tiny bones — in your mouth.
Boiled fish in Sichuan sauce. Mmmm... spicy goodness. Chunks of fish with lettuce in a spicy sauce made with chili bean paste and Sichuan peppercorns. This is large — that's a full-size serving spoon in there. This dish is an obsession with us. We had it first in China, then at Chung King in San Gabriel, CA. You can find versions of this dish also on TK Wu's and Middle Kingdom's menus, and similar recipes for cooking it at home in Land of Plenty.
More photos in the extended post...
More dumplings, with sticky rice. Very mild flavored with that wonderful sticky rice texture.
"Super spicy" chicken with no bones. Not as spicy as it looks, but with plenty of Sichuan peppercorns, sliced ginger and garlic, and a hint of five-spice powder. You can tell how dry this dish is by the fact that they serve it in a basket! One of the ones we keep ordering because it's addictive...
Sichuan-style cold spicy beef.
A cold noodle dish (might be Sichuan-style)
And one of the chef's favorite dishes...
Lima beans with pickled vegetable. Mild and mushy. Completely different from what we were expecting and totally delicious, especially when mixed with rice. When we were served, the chef came out to tell us just how much he loves this dish.
If you have a large group (at least four or five people) and want to be the envy of the restaurant...
...try this! A giant meal in a pot with fish, crab (in the shell), shrimp, etc. These kind gentlemen noticed all my picture taking and our group's unmasked curiosity and invited me to take photos before they dug in. Note the size of the single serving bowl and tea pot in comparison to the serving bowl. If you want to find this dish, it's the $43 Sichuan-style soup. (We have not tried it ourselves yet, but will on an upcoming expedition.)
2016 Packard St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104