After my first visit to East Lansing’s Everyday Authentic Chinese Cuisine for an epic feast with friends on a Saturday, I had to go back for more when tasked with bringing takeout to my dad’s house for dinner the following Wednesday. The restaurant is located at the former site of the (Americanized) Chinese buffet my dad would frequently take me and my brother to as kids, so it seemed fitting. What’s not fitting at all, however, is that it took me so long to discover the location’s new occupant.
The menu is enormous and packed with dishes that will be unfamiliar to the uninitiated, but don’t be intimidated. Everything is written out in English, and the staff members are happy to help. My friends and I shared the three-course Peking duck meal, which included crispy duck breast, duck fried rice and a heavenly duck bone-broth soup, but I figured that would be a bit much for a 5 p.m. takeout order, so I opted for the beef-brisket casserole with radish, Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce and rice-noodle rolls with shrimp and chives.
The word “casserole” here does not mean your typical Midwestern casserole — it simply refers to the dish in which the food is cooked. In this case, hunks of tender beef and earthy, melt-in-your-mouth daikon radish. These are covered by a luscious gravy, which is made silky by the gelatinous beef fat and is flavored with star anise, ginger, clove, soy sauce and I’m sure much more. The dish is rich and comforting and will remind the Western palate of an especially thoughtful homemade beef stew.
The perfect pairing to balance out all of this heaviness is the Chinese broccoli, which looks very different from the broccoli that might first come to mind, being much more similar to broccoli rabe. The long stems, thinner versions of typical broccoli stalks, are cooked al dente, with the attached leafy greens wilting perfectly in a very light gravy of garlic, soy and (I think) oyster sauce. Don’t try cutting the broccoli with your fork — I recommend slurping it like a noodle.
To save the best for last, we now arrive at the shrimp rice-noodle rolls, much more elegantly known as ha cheung in Cantonese. A dim-sum classic, I can only imagine the complexity of preparing this heavenly variation on the dumpling. If you can imagine two very wide, thick blankets of rice noodles being filled with shrimp and chives before being gently steamed, you’re at least part of the way there. The texture is sumptuous and silky and has to be tasted to be understood.
While I might not go every day, Everyday has surely secured a place in my regular out-to-eat rotation.
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