Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red Star Chinese Restaurant - Dearborn, MI

On our way home from the health food store on Saturday, Brian and I drove by some hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that had certainly seen better days.  The kind that probably has a reputation for questionable meat and reusing their vegetable garnishes. Not the type of place that makes you crave Chinese food . . . yet at the same time totally makes you crave Chinese food.  Just not from there.  

Suddenly we both wanted Chinese food for dinner.

We realized that it's been years since either of us has eaten Chinese food (unless you count P.F. Chang's - which I don't know if I do), since we generally tend toward Thai food.  That's when I remembered Red Star in East Dearborn, which is a place I've been wanting to go to for years and for one reason or another we've never gone.  

First off, let me say that the ambiance of this place is weird and unlike any Chinese restaurant I've ever been in before.  The walls and carpeting are kind of drab and gray and there aren't many decorations, paintings, or wall hangings.  It has mirrors and chandeliers and seems more like a small banquet room than a Chinese restaurant.  

What's great about Red Star is that, although there are only a handful of vegan menu items, they will replace any meat on their menu with vegan chicken or beef.  This really opens up a whole world of possibilities and doesn't limit vegan diners to the usual mixed vegetable plate with tofu.  Granted, I'm not necessarily all about the vegan meats but every once in a while it's a nice treat.  (When I first heard about the place I was mistrustful but VegMichigan vouches for them.) 

So there are a couple of options there.  Basically, you can either choose an entree, which is one dish or you can choose a combo, which is smaller portions of two dishes.  The entree comes with veggie soup and the combo comes with a veggie spring roll or veggie egg roll.  Both come with white instead of shrimp fried rice.  (No brown, bummer.)

I ordered the combo with sweet and sour chicken and mixed vegetables.  I told our server I was vegan so she asked if I wanted the veggie spring roll or veggie egg roll (wasn't sure how the egg roll was vegan so I went spring) and said it would come with the vegan meat and white rice.  Although I like spring rolls, I'm really not a fan of fried food.  The smell is nauseating and the food usually doesn't sit well with me.  Plus I know it's not good for my body and the fat content scares me.  However, I don't eat it often so I threw caution to the wind with both the spring roll and the sweet and sour chicken.  (And in all honesty, I didn't know sweet and sour chicken is deep fried.  Damn.)

Veggie spring roll

Sweet and sour vegan chicken, mixed vegetables w/ white rice

Overall, the food was pretty good.  The chicken was definitely vegan, so that was good.  I liked the vegetables, even if the sauce was a little gelatinous.  I'm assuming it was some agar or cornstarch-thickened broth mixture.  Brian ordered the sesame chicken (real chicken) and liked it a lot.  I might try that next time with vegan chicken and the veggie soup.  There is definitely a lot on the menu so we'll be making a return trip to Red Star.

My combo with vegan meat and veggie spring roll cost $11.95.

They don't have a website but you can view their menu online here.

Red Star Chinese Restaurant is located at 13944 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn
Open Sunday 2 p.m.-10 p.m.; Monday - Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.-11 p.m.

What's your favorite Chinese dish?


  1. This calls to mind our Chinese restaurant adventure in Guelph in 1983. It was a totally hole in the wall place....complete with a hole in the wall. But the food was terrific! There is an inverse relationship between ambiance and quality. My favorite? Anything Szechuan.

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