San Fu: The best Chinese food in Ann Arbor?
- /calendar/photologue/photos/01 san fu/cache/050312_ENT_SanFu_MRM_07_fullsize.jpg
- /calendar/photologue/photos/01 san fu/cache/050312_ENT_SanFu_MRM_08_fullsize.jpg
- /calendar/photologue/photos/01 san fu/cache/050312_ENT_SanFu_MRM_09_fullsize.jpg
- /calendar/photologue/photos/01 san fu/cache/050312_ENT_SanFu_MRM_10_fullsize.jpg
- /calendar/photologue/photos/01 san fu/cache/050312_ENT_SanFu_MRM_11_fullsize.jpg
- /calendar/photologue/photos/01 san fu/cache/050312_ENT_SanFu_MRM_12_fullsize.jpg
For more than 15 years, San Fu has quietly and steadfastly been serving up some of the best Chinese food in Ann Arbor.
Maybe the best.
What? You’ve not been to San Fu? We almost hate to spread the word about what has long been one of our favorite places for a ridiculously cheap and delicious lunch.
But San Fu is just too good to keep to ourselves.
Of course, this unassuming Asian eatery, tucked into the too-often-overlooked South Main Market, seems to do just fine with its loyal clientele, many of whom can be found there several times a week.
But what makes San Fu stand apart from its competitors?
Ingredients are a factor, to be sure, and San Fu’s dishes are always fairly alive with the vibrant colors of fresh red peppers, green broccoli and other vegetables.
And of course recipes play a roll. Take General Tso’s chicken, for instance. Likely, you’ve had variations of it dozens of times. But has it arrived as delicately breaded and succulent as it does at San Fu? Is the sauce spicy, yet delicate, combining to create something bigger than the sum of its parts?
If not, you deserve a visit to San Fu.
625 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor in the South Main Market
- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m; Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
- Plastic: Visa, Mastercard
- Liquor: No.
- Noise level: Low.
- Wheelchair access: Fair; everything on one level, although access to the restroom is through the rather cramped kitchen.
With literally dozens of items on the menu, it’s impossible to offer a comprehensive summary of San Fu’s offerings.
But we can say this much without hesitation: The Hunan spicy pork may be one of the best things you ever eat. And at less than $6 for an massive lunch portion, it’s one of the best values in town, too.
Featuring succulent and tender strips of fried pork, red bell peppers, corn, and broccoli, all bathed in a hot-and-savory sauce, this isn’t a dish for the faint of heart. Even though it’s hot enough to singe your wig as is, we usually ask for it extra spicy, just because the hurt’s so good.
So good, in fact, that we struggle to bring ourselves to try anything else, even though we’re never disappointed when we do. Like the aforementioned General Tso’s chicken or kung pau chicken, which, like the Hunan spicy pork, offers plenty of heat amid diced chicken, mixed vegetables and peanuts.
A little more pricy, yet definitely worth the extra cost, are San Fu’s house specialties, which generally lean toward seafood. We loved the happy family reunion, which combines stir-fried chicken, beef, shrimp and scallops, as well as mixed vegetables in a luxurious special sauce.
And since we believe it’s perfectly OK to accept or eschew a Chinese restaurant based on the quality of its hot and sour soup, we’re happy to report that San Fu’s is top-notch, brimming with mushrooms and bamboo shoots in a thick, sesame-infused broth. If there’s a better version of this staple item in Ann Arbor, we definitely have yet to find it.
There’s nothing fancy about San Fu. You order your food at the front counter and the friendly, efficient staff brings it to your table, with in the spartan main room or in the larger side room, which is decorated with a large selection of Chinese pottery, which is also available for purchase.
San Fu is one of the few restaurants that can lure you in with its low prices, then surprise you with the quality of its food; or bring you in for a delicious meal, then surprise you with how inexpensive it is.
Either way, you can’t lose at San Fu.