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Home Food  A smorgasbord of dining news
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Wednesday, April 20,2011

A smorgasbord of dining news

What’s opening and what’s changing in the restaurant world in the near-future

by Joe Torok

New names have sprouted in the area’s restaurant
landscape, a spot for Indian cuisine is germinating, and one familiar
name will be changing in the not-too-distant future.


Xiao (pronounced shee-ow) China Grille & Lounge had a
soft opening earlier this month, but it plans to roll out a grand
opening event the first week of May. In his location at 3415 E. Saginaw
Street, just beyond Coolidge Road, Xiao owner Frank Cheng has created an
Chinese and American fusion bistro with a full bar and contemporary
style.


The casually elegant interior styling is contemporary with
blacks, browns and reds, and a giant Buddha statue rests in the rear of
the main dining space, serenely welcoming diners.  


Cheng says Chinese restaurants are undergoing a
generational transformation as American diners have become more familiar
with the cuisine. With fusion items that include Philly steak or
Southwest chicken eggrolls, the Xiao experience has one foot firmly
planted in American sensibilities and another in a Chinese kitchen. Call
(517) 580-3720.


Swagath Indian Cuisine isn’t open yet,
but owner Sid Reddy plans to be serving Indian specialties by May 15 in a
strip mall on Trowbridge Road, directly behind Woody’s Oasis.  The
soon-to-be restaurant, which will be adjacent to Reddy’s Swagath Foods
market, will plate up pan-Indian cuisine every day of the week. 


A snack bar, Reddy says, will be a feature of the
restaurant diners might not find elsewhere. Traditional Indian street
foods, known as chaat, are planned: samosas, bhelpuri, fried pakoras and
panipuri — a tuft of dough with savory filling, dipped in a tamarind
sauce and eaten in one electric bite — will be among the snack bar
options.


Later this year, if all goes well, one of Lansing’s
favorite spots to sip coffee and cruise the internet plans to undergo
significant changes. Gone Wired Café, at 2021 E. Michigan Ave., is
working through the protracted bureaucratic process of obtaining a
liquor license.  


Once a license is in hand, Gone Wired will be changing its
name, remodeling its interior to accommodate a bar, expanding and
showcasing a growing consignment counter for folks wary of
craigslist.com, and tweaking the menu to reflect a hybrid identity as a
burger bar while retaining the community-centered café feel for which
it’s known.


Gone Wired’s changes hinge on the liquor license, which is
not expected for at least five months and may take up to a year to
secure. Call (517) 853-0550.


Chicago Deli opened recently in an inconspicuous spot at
807 E. Grand River Ave., east of Old Town. Orange signage and a strobe
light pull passersby into to a three-table dining space, decorated with
pictures of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey and Barbra
Streisand.


Hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches are what Chicago Deli
does best. The wait is never very long, either, with meals dished up in
fast-food time. As witnessed on a recent afternoon, it’s affordable
enough for someone pushing around a shopping cart of empty bottles to
dine on a couple of chili dogs and quirky enough for businessmen to grab
a quick bite. Call (517) 367-7697.


Finally, a brief moment for an established restaurant
worthy of veneration. If you’ve never been to Udon Sushi Bakery, 134 N.
Harrison Road, just north of Michigan Avenue, write the name on your
to-do list. While Udon’s ownership is wary of a full feature that might
make business a bit too brisk, the little spot (open from 5 p.m. to 3
a.m. daily) deserves at least a brief description.


The menu features a bit of sushi, bubble tea and Korean
entrees, soups and hot pots. The food is great, but the atmosphere is
what makes the place a favorite of students, beatniks and anyone looking
for taste of something different.  


Karaoke is probably the most banal accoutrement at Udon. A
video game system, a massage chair and exercise equipment fill one
corner;  a closed-circuit
video camera broadcasts customers placing orders at the counter —
customers, by the way, who are looking at the ceiling because that is
where the menu is mounted; photos of diners sleeping, kissing and posing
tile the walls; sticky notes with handwritten messages line the
bathroom; and, instead of drum-shaped stools, very clean toilet bowls
without tanks provide alternative seating along one side of the dinner
counter. Call (517) 332-5995.

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