Novi – From fried rice to fresh lettuce wraps, China Cafe will give you an authentic taste of Chinese cuisine. That’s not all. The owners, Kelly and Susana Chang, have infused their unique history into the food as well, making China Cafe a family favorite.
“We want to be a neighborhood stop,” said Susana. “People refer to China Cafe as your local Cheer’s bar.”
They both grew up in the restaurant industry, so the next logical step was for them to open a place of their own. 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 24 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 Qing 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. Chef recommendations include the Hong Kong short ribs, which are braised in a soy, garlic, and white pepper sauce until they are mouth-wateringly tender, and Korean Fried Chicken in a soy garlic reduction.
If you want to celebrate Chinese New Year as they do in China, order some fish, dumplings, and spring rolls for luck in the new year. This will be the Year of the Ox, the second animal of the Chinese Zodiac, and denotes hard work, positivity, and honesty.
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. This romantic venue is opening specially for dine-in service on Valentine’s Day.
If you want to try out the China Cafe, or Jai Lounge, they are located at 24299 Novi Road in Novi. China Cafe is currently open for carry-out and curbside pick up.