For many in Novi, China Cafe is a family favorite and that is in large part thanks to their delicious food, but also its two owners, Kelly and Susana Chang.
“We want to be a neighborhood stop,” said Susana. “People refer to China Café as your local Cheer’s bar.”
The couple both grew up in the restaurant industry, so the next logical step was for them to open a place of their own. So, in 1997, they opened China Cafe on Novi Road in the Pine Ridge Shopping Center. The building used to be an Italian restaurant and, due to budgetary constraints, they kept much of the decor in the beginning. However, over the past 23 years, the Changs remodeled it. The restaurant now has a very sleek feel with white tablecloths, ornate accents, and several beautiful Chinese fixtures like a replica of a robe worn by an emperor from the Ching Dynasty.
The menu is predominately Chinese, but it does have some dishes from other Asian countries as well, particularly Korea and Thailand. This is a reflection of Susana and Kelly’s heritage, as they are both ethnically Chinese, but were born in Korea. They’ve also kept with the times and modernized some classic Chinese dishes to fit with current trends. Their Cauliflower Fried Rice, for example, substitutes cauliflower rice for regular rice making it a healthier alternative. Family recipes are also included on the menu, like Mama Chang’s Dumplings.
Recently, they’ve added an extension to their restaurant called the Jai Lounge. This offers a more intimate, cozy experience for guests with dim lighting, flowers on the tables and no TVs. It also offers a different menu and features a wall full of wine. The lounge gets its name from Kelly’s family, where they all share the middle name, Jai, which means family.
If you want to try out the China Cafe, or Jai Lounge, they are located at 24299 Novi Road in Novi.