Thursday, January 08, 2009

Taste of Ann Arbor

Disclaimer: The following blog is very specific to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. If you did not attend the school, you may find this post boring. However, if you want to be amazed by how far three Asian guys pushed the limits of human food consumption, keep reading.

Those of you who know me know that I love food more than life itself. My mother often calls me a trash compactor or garbage disposal because of my uncanny ability to clean up unfinished food at the table.

On the Monday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I went on an amazing food adventure with two friends, Brando and UMich. Our plan: drive to Ann Arbor, hit five restaurants in five hours and explore our old college campus.

The University of Michigan was somewhat deserted that week, so a few of the original restaurants on our list were closed. This included Blimpy Burger, Big Ten Burrito, China Gate and U Café, which was an enormous disappointment because they accounted for 80% of our goal.

However, we didn’t allow this small roadblock to get our spirits down. We manned up and improvised. The first place we ate was Mr. Spot's. We ordered a cheesesteak, cheesesteak with mushrooms, steak hoagie and mozzarella sticks. The meal was even more fantastic because an autographed picture of Tom Brady was staring down upon me as I ate. He’s so beautiful.

Next, we headed up State Street to visit Sushi.come. You may be thinking the name is strange, and you’re absolutely correct. This Japanese restaurant opened my freshman year. Everyone was confused, and still is confused, as to why a restaurant would name itself Sushi.come.

On this visit, they had changed their signs to Sushi.com. It turns out the owners had wanted people to think their restaurant was a sushi website, but they spelled it incorrectly. Anyway, I’m sticking with the original, more ludicrous spelling of Sushi.come. And I’m also sticking with the pronunciation of “dot come” instead of “dot com.” (Side note: I had to look up how to spell “ludicrous.” Ludacris the rapper totally messed up my ability to spell that word properly. Bastard.)

At Sushi.come, we had miso soup, salad, one tuna roll, one Crazy Boy roll and four pieces of salmon nigiri sushi for our entrée. For dessert, we shared green tea tempura ice cream. As the name suggests, this tasty dish was simply green tea ice cream battered tempura-style. Think the Japanese version of Mexican fried ice cream. It was tanfastic!

Aside from the tanfastic tempura ice cream, I’d say the food here was only OK. However, I was glad we went because we had a sorority girl sighting! She was wearing the official uniform – tight, black ass pants, black Northface coat and Puma sneakers (though I seem to recall a high volume of Saucony Jazz sneakers in my day).

We proceeded to take a walk around the block, check out the North Quad construction and breeze by the MLB. We then hit Angell Hall because we wanted to visit the Fishbowl, where we spent many a night writing papers for our ULWR classes or cramming for ECON401 until 3am. (FYI – you can still login to the campus computers, as well as Wolverine Access and directory.umich.edu, with your uniqname and password.)

After Angell Hall, we checked out the Grad Library Reference Room floor to do some studying. Then, we walked across the bridge to the UGLi, slid down staircase railings and checked out the redesigned magazine shelves on the first floor. And did you know there now is a coffee bar in the UGLi lobby? It’s called Bert’s Café.

Once we were done with the libraries, we went to the Chem Building. We wanted to check out CHEM 1800 because we randomly discovered that we all prized it as our favorite lecture hall. I remember acing a few GEOSCI mini-courses, as well as several L.A. Times crossword puzzles in this auditorium. Great memories.

When we entered the room, it was pitch black. Once we found the lights, we proceeded to run across the tables and take pictures with the giant periodic table of elements on the wall. We went down to the electronic chalkboard and played around with that too. We wanted to feel what it was like to be a professor…but without the Ph. D., immense knowledge of a specific field of study or huge salary.

We were in CHEM 1800 for a solid 20 minutes. The entire time, I was a little scared DPS would find us. However, I was secretly hoping they’d find us so we could make Crime Notes in the Michigan Daily. I was thinking it would’ve been hilarious if we were featured in the paper right next to the ever-elusive Arb masturbator.

After our campus building nostalgia tour, we went to Pizza House. For you Pizza House fans, you’ll be happy to know that it has expanded its space horizontally and vertically. I imagine it’s to accommodate the 2am chicken Caesar chipati cravings of Rick’s patrons.

We ordered the 10” House Special pizza, accompanied by an appetizer of cheesy pepperoni bread. Delicious!

I do have a confession – this was my first time sober at Pizza House. I had only been there once before. It was autumn of 2006, and I was back on campus with The Homewrecker and Powers for a football game. First of all, I was intoxicated from Rick’s and don’t remember it. Additionally, I had just eaten a burrito at Panchero’s about 10 minutes prior to setting foot inside the place. So had I been able to remember, I’m sure the pizza goodness would’ve been nullified by the pico de gallo and guacamole I had just consumed.

And speaking of Panchero’s, that’s where we went next. We ordered two tacos, a burrito bowl and a burrito. However, at this point we were suffering. We just had to sit at the table for awhile after we finished eating. I was on the verge of falling into a food coma. I wasn’t sure if I could even make it to the final restaurant.

Between Mr. Spot’s and Sushi.come, we had a decent walk and the food took some time being prepared at Sushi.come. Between Sushi.come and Pizza House, we went on a thorough exploration of campus. There was no break between Pizza House and Panchero’s, and they’re only 100 feet away from one another. It was a killer transition, which truly tested our collective will to continue.

But our spirits are indomitable. We pushed forth and drove to Zingerman’s, an extremely popular and tasty Jewish delicatessen not too far from campus. At this point I was going to pass on the entrée and go straight to dessert, but my colleagues pushed me to go the extra mile. We decided we’d divide a huge sandwich three ways and share a giant slice of cake for dessert.

We settled on the Dinty Moore – corned beef, lettuce, tomato and housemade Russian dressing on rye bread. We also got pickles.

We were really full, but we still wanted dessert because the cakes at Zingerman’s are beyond delicious. We decided on a slice of Hummingbird Cake – a traditional southern cake of coconut, fresh bananas, walnuts and pineapple covered in cream cheese frosting. This is the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my life. I honestly don’t think it’ll get better than that, and it didn’t even have chocolate (and the only thing I love more than eating is eating chocolate – the chocolate river in Willy Wonka is my river of dreams).

I was euphoric after eating that delectable cake, so I thought it was the perfect ending to a day of eating. Unfortunately, UMich and Brando wanted another slice of cake, so, against my wishes, they ordered the ’07 Heaven Cake, which consisted of seven alternating layers of chocolate cake, coconut cake and vanilla Swiss buttercream. This is all covered in Belgian chocolate buttercream and toasted almonds. Because I’m a chocolate-lover and have no self-control, I dug in. This cake was also delicious, but it nearly killed me.

At this point, my jeans were strangling my thighs and my stomach threatened to bust the button from my jeans. I, as were my friends, was really regretting the decision to forego sweatpants that day.

In any case, I’m really happy I went on this Ann Arbor food crawl. Though it wasn’t planned, it ended up becoming a multicultural trip. Filipino, Chinese and Korean guys ate at American, Japanese, Italian, Mexican and Jewish restaurants.

Another great thing is that it was cheap; the total damage to my wallet was only $41. The damage to my body…only time will tell. But let’s just say I started an intense diet and workout routine, and I never do the New Year’s diet resolution thing.

I took some pictures. If you want to see whether any of your favorite restaurants have changed or what CHEM 1800 looks like when it’s overrun by three Asian guys in the dead of winter, feel free to check them out.

5 comments:

  1. I miss Ann Arbor...she was a lovely whore.

    Mary-Markley, Frat fights, harmonica playing professors/homeless guys, the Darfur dude, Pizza House BBQ Chicken Pizza, the shitty Freeze Building, Scorekeepers cocktail mini-pitchers, $1 pitchers, The Big House, CCRB, lunch at the Union, 1008 Oakland, and universal hatred of OSU......these are a few of my favorite things.

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  2. This is my fav post of yours I've read..so funny. It's too bad you U-Cafe was closed, I went a month ago and it was amazing.

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  3. I thought my 2 years of Japanese in the Frieze building did absolutely nothing for me until I read this blog. Way to go on the food crawl by the way, very impressive and definitely made me hungry and nostalgic.

    In response to the whole sushi.come enigma, you can't spell ".com" in Japanese. Their characters in hiragana (one of their 3 alphabets) consist of sounds like ha hi hu he ho, ka ki ku ke ko, etc. So you can make the "ko" in ".com" (although there are no "c's" in japanese) but to finish with an "m" sound it has to end in ma mi mu me or mo, so "me" (pronounced "meh" not "mi") is the one with the least amount of extraneous sound after the "m" so I am guessing that's why they spelled it like that.

    GO BLUE!!

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  4. So amazing. Makes me want to fly home and do a bar crawl/food crawl/ann arbor memory lane tour as soon as humanly possible.

    Also, thanks to Carrie for that interesting japanese lesson! :) Even without the last name, that's our bizzle :)

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  5. This was your best blog ever...Way to take one for the team with that last Heaven Cake!

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