You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

400-seat Asia City Restaurant forming new 'Chinatown' hub in Ypsilanti Township

By Janet Miller

Xingshou Wang was thinking big when he planned construction of Asia City Restaurant on Washtenaw in Ypsilanti Township.

With seating for close to 400 and 15,000 square feet, it will be one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Michigan when it opens this weekend.

Next door of the Washtenaw Avenue restaurant is Hua Xing Asia Market, with 27,000-square feet, one of the largest Chinese grocery stores in Michigan.


Owners of the new Asia City Restaurant in Ypsilanti Township hope to someday become the hub of a small Chinatown area.

Janet Miller for

But Wang’s plans go even bigger. He hopes his market and now his restaurant will be the center of what will some day be a small Chinatown, something he sees when he visits New York and other big American cities, but missing in Michigan.

He owns eight acres of land on the south side of Washtenaw Avenue, between Golfside and Hewitt, and wants to attract more Asian businesses to the area.

For now, Wang is focused on opening Asia City Restaurant, which cost more than $1 million to build and furnish. It replaces Chinese Buffet 2, which Wang owned and operated for 15 years before he closed it two years ago to begin planning Asia City Restaurant. The old 7,000-square-foot building was razed to make way for the new restaurant.

Having a market and a restaurant side-by-side makes sense, said Steven Xiao, general manager of Asia City. “There’s a synergy. The market can furnish the restaurant with food and supplies.” This will include the live seafood that arrives weekly.

The new venture is twice the size and markedly different from Chinese Buffet 2, Wang said through Xiao, who acted as an interpreter. 

Chinese Buffet 2 was not authentic Chinese food, Wang said. It catered more to American tastes. “Now, everything will be authentic,” he said.

While Asia City Restaurant will eventually include a small buffet for customers looking for more Americanized Chinese fare, the new menu will focus on fresh and authentic Hong Kong-style dishes, said Hody List, a local Realtor who has worked with Wang and who is a friend of the family.

“Hong Kong-style food is like when Europeans talk about French cooking," she said. "It’s the best. And it's much lighter.”

Wang said he expects to have 30 full- and part-time employees, including two pastry chefs hired from California.

With its winged roof lines, columns, red exterior and front door decorated with giant round nail heads, the design was inspired by the Chinese Imperial palace the Forbidden City in the middle of Beijing, Xiao said.

Asia City Restaurant, designed by Novi-based architect Jerry Wu, took 1½ years to build. It was important to set the upscale tone at the chandelier-lit entrance, Xiao said.

The towering waterfall pays homage to a Chinese fairy tale a monkey who escorts a monk on his quest for the meaning of life.

The interior includes gilded dragons, tanks for lobster and other live seafood, opulent décor and two red velvet covered stages that Wang hopes will convince area Asian families to see Asia City as a gathering place for weddings and other occasions.

Wang was a restaurant owner in the south of China before he came to the United States in 1981. He worked with family in the restaurant business in New Jersey and set up his own place in Buffalo before moving it to Dearborn. Worried that carmakers were headed for hard times, he moved his business to Washtenaw County, figuring its side-by-side university towns would create a solid customer base.

“It was a better business opportunity,” Wang said.

The market and restaurant are owned by Wang and his younger brother, Hingching Wong, and nephew, Kequan Wang.

While Asia City Restaurant wants to become a magnet for the area’s Asian community, it also hopes to attract anyone looking for an authentic Chinese meal, Xiao said. 

“It will be like it is at the market. There are a lot of Americans who come in there, too. We’ll give Americans a real good taste of what Chinese food is.”



Mon, Feb 14, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

We ate there last night (2/13/11) for the Pioneer Band Gala. The service was great and the food was better. Awesome place to have an event!


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 12:41 a.m.

Went there for Dim Sum and it was great. Dont listen to the negative comments on here. Typical spoiled Americans who want everything delivered to them on a silver platter and cleaned with Formula 409 because thats how television tells them it should be. Service was fine and the place was packed with Asians which is typically a good sign. Chef boy, you might want to start asking for the non-whitey menu because Chinese restaurants usually hand the whitey menu to clowns like you. And keep eating those overcooked thin greasy burger patties that it takes about six of to make a real burger. Roys Squeeze Inn blows away whatever you want to call those things that are made at Blimpys.

Gwynne O.

Sun, Feb 14, 2010 : 4:59 p.m.

They are getting better about crowds and service, but still need work. Food was delicious and worth the wait. They use high quality ingredients with little MSG. I say little because they cannot control MSG already in some ingredients like preserved eggs.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 5:52 p.m.

I hope our visit last night was not the shape of thinigs to come. We waited almost an hour and never even got our order. We did get one bowl of hot and sour sour but it was ice cold. The place wasn't overly busy. Poorly staffed and no one knew what was going on. If you are going to open a Mega Restaurant be ready for the business. We saw about six other tables get up and leave beacuse of the poor service. i may go back but it will be several months. BTW the menu looked a lot like any other Chinese restaurant.

Basic Bob

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

This is hardly a dead zone for restaurants. Emerald City, Smoke House Blues, Tuptim, Temptations, Tio's are all excellent! Not to mention all the sandwich and fast food joints. Sorry we missed the opening last night, we were just down the street and would have gone.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

Our family had the opportunity to visit today for the grand opening and it was fantastic! The atmosphere was grand and the food fabulous. The owners have done a wonderful job and this is a great addition to our community. Congratulations and best wishes for much success!


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

Goblue: I've completely forgotten about the old restaurant reviews that use to be in the Ann Arbor News. I loved that section! Are they still published on here?

Black Coffee :)

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:06 p.m.

I'm ready bring on the Chinese food and green tea :o) and to the owner thank you for investing in our community


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:59 p.m.

@Gobludeatosu It's a brand new building from ground up(as in the old one was completely torn down)so health inspections should'nt (hopefully)be a big problem


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:22 p.m.

wow...I thought Eve (4 critical violations) and Cafe Zola (6 critical violations) had bad health inspection reports. CHINESE BUFFET II did even worse (seven critical violations) in their last health inspection. Good thing CHINESE BUFFET II is now closed. Same question that was asked of Eve (and never addressed. What is Xingshou Wang going to do to ensure his new place gets a better health inspection report? For now, we all should eat at Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger. Would you believe...Blimpy has critical violations. Who would have thought? Guess eating Burgers is safer than eating at those other places. Check it for yourself


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:33 p.m.

Hope it does well but that spot has always been a sort of dead zone.Resturants never seem to last too long


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

Greatlakes on Carpenter, between Packard and Washtenaw, has some pretty good food.

Atticus F.

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

I love Hua Xing market. It's like going to Chinatown, with all of the live fish tanks stacked up to the ceiling, turtles, frogs, and all of the exotic foods. Also the shrimp there are 'head on' with no preservatives that make the shrimp rubbery. Leaving the heads on, in my oppinion adds to the flavor, as it allows the liver to be absorbed into the meat as it cooks. On a side note, rebbapragada, keep your oppinions on healthy eating out of other peoples culture. I really hate it when other people want to dictate what others are eating, especially if it's a cultural thing.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

We are really looking forward to this restaurant opening up. There is not a really good Chinese fare to be had. Especially around here. The other China town I visited was in Toronto. Reminded me of China Town in San Francisco. What disturbs me is the fact he is hiring non Michigan pastry chefs. Gee, guess that says a lot about Michigan. But it will be a boon to Washtenaw county economy.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.

I highly doubt that once this place gets going it will be known for serving "real Chinese food"...this is former spot and some of the ownership from the old "Chinese Buffet II" after all. Which was great..but also cheap, lowest common denominator, and packed with MSG and softserve ice cream desserts...completely indistinguisable from any other Chinese Buffet in the entire country.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

A large Chinese restaurant and a large Chinese grocer on Washtenaw Avenue does not form a 'Chinatown' Hub anymore than a couple of art studios next to one another forms an artist community! I'll check back in twenty years to see if this concept, if you will, pans out. Considering that Washtenaw Avenue from US-23 to Hewitt looks nothing like it did even 10 years back in terms of the types of businesses, I have my doubts. Regardless - I hope the business sees great success; especially in this climate. Good Luck!

Rhe Buttle

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

At last. Now we don't have to go to San Francisco, LA, or NYC to get real Chinese food. Welcome and good luck.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

This sounds fantastic! This American (and many others) LOVE authentic Hong-Kong (or really any) style food, so you'll have plenty in your new place. I am hoping dim-sum will also be featured -- especially if pasty chefs are to be hired.