Authentic Chinese food in Mount Pleasant

As the home to the main campus of Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant embraces diverse cultures. As the number of international residents in the city has grown, the food has become more varied. There are now many restaurants with international cuisine, including Mexican, Italian, Korean and Chinese.

In terms of exploring Chinese food, what is the first dish that comes to your mind? I asked several people this question and not surprisingly, most of them said Orange Chicken.

Indeed, almost every Chinese restaurant in the United States serves Orange Chicken, yet there is no such dish in China. So, the question becomes: is it possible to eat real Chinese food in Mount Pleasant, and what dishes are authentically from China?

There are five Chinese restaurants in Mount Pleasant, including China Garden, China One Buffet, Dragon Express, Great Wall Buffet, First Wok. Each restaurant has a must-eat dish that is considered to be original Chinese food.

First, I would like to recommend a China Garden dish named “fuqi feipian” or “sliced lung by the married couple.” Despite its name, actual beef lung is rarely used. This is a popular Sichuan dish served cold or at room temperature.

The dish is made of thinly sliced beef, beef tripe and Sichuan peppercorns. True to its Sichuan roots, the desired taste is both spicy and mouth-numbing. Unlike in the United States, beef tripe is used as a normal ingredient in varies dishes.

The second dish I found was the beef noodle soup at Dragon Express.

Beef noodle soup at Dragon Express. (Photo by Yalan Shen | Grand Central Magazine)

The restaurateur of Dragon Express said at first, this special dish was not on the menu. People came to know the dish by word-of-mouth. The chef only uses Chinese seasoning in it and was afraid that Americans would not like this dish. However, it has become one of the famous dishes in this restaurant today.

It is made of stewed beef, beef broth that is cooked at least four hours, Chinese vegetables and Chinese noodles. Red chilies, star anise, white pepper, green onions and most importantly, Chinese Sauerkraut are used to add flavoring to the soup. If you cannot tolerate spiciness, do not forget to let the waitress know that when you order it.

“I think First Wok is the most ‘Chinese’ Chinese restaurant in Mount Pleasant. It tastes more like Chinese flavor,” Li, a Chinese student said.

At First Wok, two menu items of fresh fish attract people, the spiced salt fish sticks and steamed whole fish. Neither dish contains many seasonings but keeps the original fresh taste of the fish.

The easiest way to explore Chinese food in Mount Pleasant is to go to the buffet restaurants. They allow you to feast on a wide selection of food that is different from what you eat every day. If you are interested in tasting something new and want to better explore the real Chinese food, bring a Chinese friend with you!