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Posted on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

Sze-Chuan West restaurant closes on West Stadium in Ann Arbor

By Paula Gardner

Sze-Chuan West, a long-time Asian restaurant on the city's west side, closed in February.

Little information was available this afternoon on the restaurant or the reason it closed.

The phone number has been disconnected and a sign was posted on the door of the business, 2161 W. Stadium, announcing the closing. The website no longer advertises the restaurant.

"They had a hard time," said an employee at nearby Bell's Diner, who said the restaurant closed about 10 days ago with no other notice.

A customer of Dick Sampier's vacuum shop, also located nearby, noticed that the restaurant had closed recently, Sampier said.

"I don't know what happened to them," he said.

The registered owner is Qihao Zheng, who could not be reached for comment. The business was in good standing, according to state documents.

The restaurant has been a fixture on West Stadium for years, though Sampier said new owners had taken it over in the last few years.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

I won't miss it. It "closed" as far as I'm concerned when the new owners took the quality downhill a few years ago. Asia City? Not a chance.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

The cave had the best and most unique generals chicken I had ever had. It was on my list of must go-to places when I would come back to Ann Arbor. Ever since they changed hands, it was one and done for that place. We used to go in HS all the time. I am very excited to hear that their is another one, in canton no less. Like finding out your dad had a long lost twin brother.

Erich Jensen

Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Try "Paradise" in the Colonnade on Eisenhower for delicious Asian food and nicely priced with friendly prompt personal service by the husband - wife owners and few staff.

Mike D.

Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

Second that!


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 12:39 a.m.

The original owners of SzeChuan West were relatives of the owners of the "SzeChuan" restaurant (est. 1980) still in operation near the NE corner of Ford Rd. and Canton Center Line in Canton, Mi. Both locations prepared similar dishes using (family) recipes. Unfortunately, when SzeChuan West was sold to the new owner it was never the same. Frankly, SzeChuan in Canton was (always) a little bit better than (West) and worth the drive ... we enjoyed dinner there just last Friday! As much as our kids always liked eating in the "Cave", the Canton location is a spacious, tastfully decorated, and well staffed restaurant still managed and operated by the original family.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

SzeChuan West was one of my family's favorite restaurants in the 1980s and 90s, then it took a nosedive and our once-a-week habit ceased. Our current local favorite chinese is Great Lake: beef, fish, or noodle dishes (do NOT order anything "American" as it will not be satisfying - aka, sweet-sour anything, almond/lemon/general's etc.) Also fantastic taiwanese and Szechuan can be found at Asian Legend in downtown A2...the wuxi ribs, basil lamb, and soups are to seriously awesome.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

"This place closed not because of competition, the economy, or the construction on Stadium. It closed because the food and service were atrocious." 100% true. Competition had nothing to do with it. There have been nearly 10 Asian restaurants within a few miles of each other for decades. This went from the finest to the absolute worst place with the ownership change. I ate there regularly for over 20 years and miss it dearly.

Joe of Kitchen Chick

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

If you liked Sze-Chuan West's food the way it used to be, as of a year or so ago you could still get the same recipes at the other Sze-Chuan Restaurant in Canton, MI. (The one on Stadium was called &quot;West&quot; for a reason.) As far as I know it's still that way. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> What Sze-Chuan West was doing wasn't authentic as such, though it was really good (I loved it under the old chef, and we went there a lot). If you're looking for authentic Chinese food in Ann Arbor, you've got a few good options. At the risk of posting too many links, these are to our own website (though we've reviewed a couple of these in Current as well, I don't know whether would get annoyed if we linked there): Great Lake (Hong Kong-style): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Middle Kingdom (mainland, various styles): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Chia Shiang (mainland, various styles): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> , <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> TK Wu also has a very authentic sub-menu, and Asian Legend does good Taiwanese food. In all of these cases, I'd avoid the Americanized dishes.

Edward Vielmetti

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

A comment was removed and forwarded to the editor for review because it contains statements that would have been incorporated into the story had they been verified at the time of the story's writing.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Nice quote. I haven't a clue why it is even included, except for people to speculate and make comments.

Ron Granger

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Loved the cave! But the food quality went downhill in recent years. I stopped going there many years ago as a result. I will always remember hearing my housemate in the late 80's ordering take out from them on the phone. When asked how spicey, he kept repeating &quot;As hot as possible!&quot; ...


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Nooooooooooooooooo! :(


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Used to go to Sze-Chuan West a lot. After moving out of A2 We did not go as much but still regularly, however in the last couple of years the food quality really went downhill. The sauces did not have the great flavor they used to and meat dishes were mostly filled with cheap veggies as filler, green pepper, water chestnuts etc. Sorry to read that they are closed, hopefully the owners just retired.

Mike D.

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

This place closed not because of competition, the economy, or the construction on Stadium. It closed because the food and service were atrocious. I was a frequent customer in the 1990s and early 2000s when it was the best Chinese in town. Then a couple years ago new ownership took over and brought in a new &quot;chef&quot; whose idea of Chinese food was gristly meat in flavorless watery sauces. They got rid of their liquor license, too. The last few times I went in, hoping things would get better, there were no other customers in the place and it was just sad. I hope the previous owners are doing well, but to the more recent iteration, I say good riddance. Here's a tip: If you're going to buy a restaurant, have a clue how to make food that people, you know, want to eat.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 4:08 p.m.

&quot;This place closed not because of competition, the economy, or the construction on Stadium. It closed because the food and service were atrocious.&quot; 100% true. Competition had nothing to do with it. There have been nearly 10 Asian restaurants within a few miles of each other for decades. This went from the finest to the absolute worst place with the ownership change. I ate there regularly for over 20 years and miss it dearly.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

Three weeks ago I was there for Sunday dinner. The dining room had 2&quot; of water in the SW corner, and they were still serving meals. The food was FABULOUS. It will be missed.

Ed Kimball

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

Gorc, I beg to differ. l have never found Middle Kingdom's food exceptional or particularly authentic. If you want authentic Chinese food, my Chinese friends tell me to go to Great Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on Carpenter near Packard -- and I agree with them. Halter, if you're looking for good New York (Cantonese) style Chinese food, I suggest you try Evergreen on Plymouth near Huron Parkway. Their food is just as good as Lai Lai's, except that Evergreen does not serve dim sum. I agree with those who say that Szechuan West lost its customer base to Gourmet Garden, not to Asia CIty.

Joe of Kitchen Chick

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

Middle Kingdom's normal menu is nothing special. They have a second, more authentic, menu that really is, and it's got Sichuan and other mainland dishes that you won't find at Great Lake. Great Lake is also excellent, but it's Hong Kong style so you won't see the Sichuan items there.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

I'm sure having Stadium Blvd under construction for over a year did not help. Small businesses can only &quot;hold on&quot; for so long...the deep pockets to see them through a prolonged period of interrupted business just aren't there in the family-run places.

Will Warner

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

I am also sad to see it close, not that I supported it much in the last years. We had many family dinners there when the kids where young. And when I was young, we were patrons of the Waterfall. The bar is so interesting. The ceiling very low and the bartender at eye level with you, it seems very much like a cave. And so campy (ok, I'm not really sure what that word means). In that way it reminds me of restaurant at LAX, Encounter <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I recommend Kai Garden, on main street (yellow awning) in the block with Vinology. If you eat there twice, &quot;Tina&quot; will remember you and what you ordered.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

Gak! I miss Dynersty something awful and that's the only closed Chinese restaurant I will ever miss.

David Briegel

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 9:38 a.m.

I had never seen woks like that before and it was amazing to watch how quick and easy it was to cook that way. I loved their delivery.

just a voice

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

We used to call it the Red Vinyl Cave Bar, as there was a great bar and at least one time a very great bartender or two. They also had some great food, but the quality had seemed to go downhill in the late 90's early 00's. Even though I hadn't been there in ages its sad to see it go, it was around during the La Fiesta days. BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO KNOW IT; whats up with all the pro-Asia City stuff? I mean if the place is good then fine, but Andy Jacobs do you have a connection with the place? Asia City had nothing to do with their customer base, if anything it would be Gourmet Garden just the other side of Liberty with great food. Plus both Gourmet Garden and Sze-Chuan were real resaturates, not Chinese buffet. Is this just a few 'friends' of the resturante supporting it, or is it actually so great it has uber-fans?


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

I don't get it either. Asia City's buffet is horrible. Their menu is pretty good, but Great Lake is better.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:47 a.m.

This is sad. We call it &quot;Fred Flintstone's basement.&quot; It was the best of the 2 Chinese restaurants within 5 blocks of us. Sorry to see it go.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

It was our favorite place when we moved here in the 80s and into the 90s but something happened in this century. I'll mourn the Chef's Special Duck forever. They must have lost their chef. In the good days you had to wait in the foyer for a table.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

That WAS a fantastic duck-dish...with the thin slivers of skin and loads of tender meat and garlicky mushroom slices *cries a wee bit*


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

At one time it was a good dive bar.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

If you want authentic Chinese cuisine that is the best in Ann Arbor, I recommend Middle Kingdom on Main Street. I guarantee it will not disappoint you, unless your taste buds don't work.


Fri, Sep 30, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Middle Kingdom is good but kinda pricey

John B.

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

...and no mystery ingredients are used there, either!


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 1:08 a.m.

I spent many happy hours there when I lived in A2 from 1971-2006. I remember it before that as Kale's Waterfall. The food used to be good and it was always packed with diners having a good time. Everything must change, I suppose.......

Michigan Reader

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

With all the outsourcing going on today in businesses, I'll bet this is another example of that. LOL.

David Briegel

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

I went to my Junior Prom Dinner at The Waterfall which was owned by my classmates family. The father and son Kales used to play piano in the dining room! It was a pretty cool place. Then they sold out to become Sze Chuan. It was great for many years and then it went downhill. I used to phone in my order and pick it up on my way home. I have lived within a mile for the last 20 yrs. Then Gourmet Garden opened and that really hurt them and they tried to compete and they improved greatly for a while. Then , not so much. I think G G had more to do with their demise than Asia City or anywhere else! I really love Bells Diner and their Korean specials!!!

John B.

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

Agreed about Bell's.... Our family used to eat at SW frequently. All four of us liked it there. You could just imagine what it had been like (years and many layers of paint ago) when it was The Waterfall (was it a bar or a bar/restaurant then?). The quality of the ingredients really slipped at SW a few years ago, it seemed. The prices were still very reasonable, but I think no parts of the chicken or cow were wasted any more from that point forward...! Lots of weird-looking stuff in the General's Chicken after that. We just stopped going at some point, sadly.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

We used to call that &quot;the bat cave&quot;...and used to eat there all the time until Asia City came along. It's a shame, Sze-Chuan West (until about a year ago when quality slipped dramatically along with the changes in recipes) and Lai Lai on Carpenter are the only local New-York-Chinese-Style restaurants in the area. That leaves one. For the money, though, nothing locally beats Asia City (except for the annoyingly long waits at times for a table).

Rod Johnson

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

What's New-York-Chinese style?


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 4:23 a.m.

Great Lake and Emerald City are just as good.


Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

Sad to hear. This was a great little restaurant with that unique &quot;you're sitting in a cave&quot; dining experience. it use to be my favorite Christmas dinner spot from my bachelor days (where they surreptitiously ignored the no alcohol sales on Christmas), and a favorite for &quot;I'm too lazy to cook&quot; takeout. Actually, speaking of, didn't they sell(?) their liquor license a while back? That couldn't have helped business too much. Curious as to whether they plan to open again. It'll be missed.


Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

I expect the opening of Asia City in Ypsi destroyed their customer base and sales. It's a great place for traditional or buffet style Chinese.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

Yeah, because there are no other Chinese restaurants in Ann Arbor.

Joe of Kitchen Chick

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

I can't see that. What destroyed their sales was a drastic downturn in food quality. Asia City's a mediocre buffet at the opposite end of town.

John B.

Wed, Mar 2, 2011 : 12:42 a.m.