Canton Township may be not be in every metro Detroiters’ backyard — it’s a long hop down I-696, a jaunt on I-275, and a few miles down Ford Road past Ikea and many other typical American retail chain stores.
But inconspicuously located in a nondescript strip mall, Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food is a welcome surprise — and worth the trek. After passing a few burger joints and well-known fast food restaurants, you’ll find an unassuming fast-casual restaurant serving street-style Indian food.
The interior is decidedly American with bold, bright colors splashed across the front counter, stainless steel accents, and red lunch trays strewn throughout the small space. Yet, it feels homey, and a diverse crowd full of families with young children enjoy their meals. On the Tuesday when we visit, nearly every seat is taken.
The menu is expansive — separated by categories my friends and I can hardly distinguish. After a long deliberation, we order, thankful for the number and letter system: “D11, M5, R5.” We’re handed a buzzer and sit at our table. It’s not romantic, but it’s efficient.
We return to the front counter to pick up dishes on large lunch trays as they are ready. First, Pani Puri, tiny crispy balls that we fill ourselves — dabbing in a potato mix, tamarind chutney, and mint cilantro water. Then, Mini Gujarati Thali, a platter with potato-eggplant curry, rice, and bread, among other items.
Next, Vegetable Manchurian are bite-sized vegetable balls with ginger garlic and sauce followed by Triple Schezwan Fried Rice, a blend of boiled noodles and rice with vegetables. Lastly (did I mention we shared?), Gun Powder Butter — code for spicy — Masala Crisp with lentils and spice powder, which looks like a giant crepe.
We dig in, hands and food flying. The dishes are made for sharing, and we laugh as we dip our bread into unknown sauces in probably incorrect ways.
Each dish has a unique combination of spices, a little heat, and is immensely flavorful — and all vegetarian. As a meat eater, I assumed that many vegetarian dishes can be bland and overpriced. I’m proven wrong — it’s hard to find a dish here more than $10.
What follows is needed — soothing, creamy homemade ice cream that seems to coat both our mouths and stomachs. I choose fig, a sweet yet not overpowering flavor, but there’s a variety of options including chocolate, rose, and butterscotch.
Sitting at my desk next day, I find myself craving those warm, rich spices and the experience of sharing a meal with friends.
Neehee’s might not be conventional, but it’s a memorable experience that’s casual and inexpensive enough to add into a regular dining rotation.
45656 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-737-9777. L&D Mon.-Sun.
Cravings: Rose’s Fine Food
Molly Mitchell and Lucy de Parry are the proprietors of Rose’s Fine Food and spend much of their time at the retro diner on East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. When they get away, they head in different directions. Mitchell loves the New Yasmeen Bakery in Dearborn. “The chicken shawarma is so garlicky with tasty pickles and just the right size,” she says. “I could also eat about 10 tacos at Mi Pueblo.” De Parry says she loves to go to Craft Work “for the vibe. It’s so down to earth in there, and the burger is my favorite in the city because it’s so straightforward without a million toppings cluttering it up. But if we’re talking crave, it’s Ronin sushi for me all the way.”
Hone Your Chops
Whether you’re a rookie hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner or a seasoned veteran looking to step up your cooking game, these classes can help you make sure your holiday feast is flawless.
Nail the basics: Make the must-haves for your spread at “Thanksgiving Essentials with Bon Appétit magazine” at Sur La Table. Learn how to make sage butter-roasted turkey with cider gravy and the trimmings. There’s also a Take and Bake Holiday Pies class where bakers will learn how to make the perfect pie crust for Autumn Leaf Apple-Cranberry Pie and Pumpkin-Chocolate Pie with Gingersnap Crust. Call for times, dates, and prices. 801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-283-1057. 27500 Novi Rd., Novi; 248-319-0025.
Star power: Give your meal an Italian spin by checking out Williams-Sonoma’s November’s Cookbook Club featuring Giada De Laurentiis’ Giada’s Happy Cooking. On the menu: Turkey Breast “Porchetta,” De Laurentiis’ Brown and Wild Rice Dressing with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, and Spiced Apple Walnut Cake with cream cheese icing. Class fees include a cookbook and a 10 percent discount. Call the stores for details. 6 p.m. Nov. 11. 2801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-637-0672. 352 N. Adams Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-375-5891. 27710B Novi Rd., Novi; 248-596-1036. $75
Feed a crowd: Planning on a full house for the holidays? Check out Victoria’s Reserve’s class “Cooking for a Crowd” to learn how to make large quantities of old favorites — and enough for seconds and leftovers. 2-4 p.m. Nov. 15, 4505 Collings Rd., Rochester; 248-969-3477. $45
Fabulous fete: Kick your holiday celebration up a notch with the Great Lakes Culinary Center’s class on “Fabulous Holiday Party Planning.” Chef Reva Constantine’s tips will help you put together a gathering people will talk about for years. Learn how to prepare dazzling platters, elegant appetizers, and sophisticated sweets. Discover how to set a holiday table with flair. 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12; 24101 W Nine Mile Rd., Southfield; 248-286-3102. $70
—Stephanie Shenouda and Jenna Wos