Bites Nearby: The Best Chinese Food in Detroit?
Well-regarded Farmington Hills restaurant Hong Hua prides itself on elegant, gourmet cuisine
Overview: Hong Hua was named among Zagat’s “America’s Top Restaurants” last fall, and it’s well-deserved. The food is thoughtful, flavorful and elegant, elevating Chinese cuisine. There is an English menu, and one in Chinese, which features regional specialties, according to a server. Ask a manager to translate the Chinese menu. This is the cream of the crop in fine dining in Farmington Hills, and is a special occasion type of place.
Decor: With its white tablecloths and elegantly appointed details, Hong Hua lives up to the fine Chinese dining in its name. A sign at the hostess stand announces a requirement for proper attire, but they won’t turn you away if you show up in jeans. Despite the fancy décor, it’s not a fussy type of establishment. All the focus is on the food, as it should be.
The Drinks: Full bar and a short wine list. It's not a cocktail-driven place, but Hong Hua offers several wines and liquors from the Far East, for example Shoa Xing (china), Kao Liang Liquor (Taiwan) and various sakes.
Appetizers: We tried the roasted spareribs, which were a bit on the greasy side and extremely sticky. We like the deep-fried tofu with spicy pepper salt; despite being deep-fried, it’s not overly saturated and the spicy pepper salt lends a fiery kick. Other out of the ordinary starters include crispy shrimp mousse on toast, deep fried crab claws stuffed with shrimp mousse and whole soft shell crab.
Entrees: The menu features Chinese standbys such as lo mein, General Tso’s chicken and mu shu pork. While these are done well, don’t be boring. For the true Hong Hua experience, go for one of the chef’s specials, which for the most part are elegant, well-composed and flavorful. One chef’s specialty that doesn’t live up to the hype is the Peking Duck, which we found greasy, slightly gamy and off-putting. It’s served two ways: first with crepes and then stir-fried for lettuce wraps. The crepes, which came with slices of duck with the skin on, packed a powerful punch of grease. And here’s the biggest crime: the skin was not crispy and was downright chewy. The lettuce wraps were more palatable. The presentation of the duck is entertaining; the waitress, donning plastic gloves, will slice up the duck for the crepes tableside. The Peking Duck, while a fun experience, is not the best thing on the menu. However, seafood reigns supreme, and you can’t go wrong with anything from under the sea from shark's fin to abalone. The shrimp with walnuts is a standout; luscious, large shrimp are sauced with a light lemon cream. The only downfall of this dish is that there is not enough.
Sides: Bowls of perfectly steamed white rice accompany dinner, and Hong Hua is not stingy with the rice. Our waitress promptly offered a refill after we emptied our bowl. The vegetables are just as important as the proteins. We especially like the sauteed snow pea leaves, which are lightly cooked, preserving crunch and flavor. It may seem pricey at $12.95 but definitely worth it.
Desserts: Hong Hua offers a “daily fresh cake” that changes every day. For an authentic sweet treat, try the lychee nuts or cold mango pudding. For the traditionalists, they also offer cheesecake and ice cream.
Service: Wait staff are friendly and attentive, even on busy Saturday nights. Make a reservation, otherwise you’ll be waiting a long time on weekends during peak hours. There is a bar but it’s quite small with only a few seats.
Signature Dish: Beef sirloin and King mushrooms with "Maggie Sauce" as suggested by Master Chef Peter Chan; anything seafood
Address: 27925 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills