Michael Yang hasn’t been in Michigan long enough to know that we use a hand to map our geography, but he smiles in recognition when he sees it. He says that China is shaped like a chicken, and quickly sketches one with a dot low on the breast, which is Fuzhou, his hometown in Fujian province. Yang has been in the U.S. for a while, mostly working, alongside his parents, in Chinese restaurants–other people’s–in North Carolina. Now they have their own restaurant, China King, in the strip roughly across from Quality 16 movie theaters on Jackson Road.
While his parents are the owners, Yang is the on-site manager, as well as occasional cook and food prepper. “My parents are older and have worked hard. I’m trying to give them a rest,” he says. A polite, slim, small-framed man, he claims to have lost ten pounds while overseeing the opening. The long menu looks to be pretty much boilerplate Ann Arbor Chinese–everything from chop suey to Szechuan and Hunan to the classic and poetic list of chef’s specials (Dragon and Phoenix, Happy Family). However, Yang says that Fujian specializes in fresh and natural dishes that are low on salt and sauce and high on vegetables. “We start with everything fresh and cut it up ourselves.”
China King replaces two short-lived pizza restaurants, and the people seem to have spoken. On a weekday midafternoon, the steady trickle of customers made it hard to conduct an interview. “We’re the only Chinese restaurant in Scio Township,” explains Yang, which apparently assured an instant customer base.
China King, 3901 Jackson Rd., 222-0033. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sun. noon-9:30 p.m.