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Jeff's Kitchen: Bespoke Shanghainese in Walled Lake, MI

Jeff's Kitchen: Bespoke Shanghainese in Walled Lake, MI
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  • Jeff's Kitchen: Bespoke Shanghainese in Walled Lake, MI

    Post #1 - February 27th, 2024, 3:18 pm
    Post #1 - February 27th, 2024, 3:18 pm Post #1 - February 27th, 2024, 3:18 pm
    A couple of doors down from the Harbor Freight, directly next to the hair salon, in an unremarkable strip mall, in the unremarkable western Detroit suburb of Walled Lake, is Jeff's Kitchen. Jeff is Shanghai trained and obviously a very talented and dedicated chef and together, he and his wife operate the restaurant with no employees.

    Reservations are absolutely required to eat at Jeff's Kitchen. When making a reservation, a conversation with Jeff takes place regarding what will be served. Jeff and his wife then source the ingredients for the day's meals. This is the full Burt Katz model applied to the cuisine of Shanghai - complete with sour grapes on-line reviews by unsuspecting potential patrons who arrived with no reservation only to find there was no food for them.

    Though we have been here 3 or 4 times, I have never been involved in the ordering process as I do not speak Chinese and was not aware of any published menu. In connection with our latest visit over the weekend I noticed, however, that a menu with English descriptions has now been posted on the web which would make it easier for an English speaker to order:
    https://sites.google.com/view/jeffskitchen . As you will note the prices are quite a bit higher than typically encountered at a Chinese restaurant.

    It appears that the timing of seatings is staggered. We have only been to Jeff's for weekend lunches and during these visits there have never been more than two tables occupied. Very often we have been the only table in the restaurant for long periods during the meal. You have the full attention of the owners.

    Some pictures from Saturday:

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    We always have the XLB, which have a thin pliable wrapper. I had three dumplings, and even with the tenderness of the wrappers, they were resilient enough that none broke. The broth and filing are very tasty and since the dumplings are straight from the steamer to your table, they are very hot. The pan-fried buns may even be better given the outer crunchy texture of the bun containing the broth. If possible, they are even more explosive than the XLB.

    The 3/4's eaten chicken dish above is described on the menu as Shanghai Free Range Chicken. This was a deeply flavored dish. The taste was reminiscent of Hainanese Chicken Rice, but in this dish the flavor was concentrated in the chicken itself, rather than in rice. I suspect that the chicken used for this dish was of the type Kevin Pang describes as "Buddhist Chicken" in his new book. I understand that the chicken had only recently been dispatched.

    The Shanghai Smoked Fish (not actually smoked) was dark, sweet, and complex. It had a delicious flavor profile which reminded me of Unagi.

    The steamed fish, though perhaps not a particular specialty of Shanghai, was perfectly prepared. The steaming liquid in which it was served had a little bit of something extra, which I cannot exactly place.

    I'm not normally a fan of desserts in Chinese restaurants, but the Winey Sweet Rice Ball Soup was so enjoyable. The colorful sweet rice balls contain a roughly ground, crunchy sesame. This dish contained contrasts between the smooth sweet rice and the rich, salty, crunchy sesame.

    This was the latest in several very memorable meals at this singular restaurant.

    Jeff's Kitchen
    1130 E. West Maple Road
    Walled Lake, MI 48390
    (248) 669-8896
    Last edited by bw77 on February 27th, 2024, 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "I live on good soup, not on fine words." -Moliere
  • Post #2 - February 28th, 2024, 9:44 am
    Post #2 - February 28th, 2024, 9:44 am Post #2 - February 28th, 2024, 9:44 am
    That looks amazing! Thanks for sharing.
    -Mary

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