You’re hungry, perhaps on a date, and don’t have loads of money to spend on a meal. My best recommendation is to visit China Ruby, a Chinese restaurant in downtown Ferndale.
In a storefront that once housed an American-style diner, China Ruby is noted for its delicious and inexpensive Szechuan, Hunan and Cantonese cuisine. For starters, try the tangy hot-and-sour soup with its generous slices of white meat chicken. How often do you get chicken in this kind of soup — and for as little as $1.85?
Everything prepared or served at China Ruby is given the attention typical of a small family-owned restaurant. The owners, Tina Co and Cuong Luu, are Chinese and originally from Vietnam. They met in the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area. Co, with some assistance, handles the front of the house, where she quickly learns the names of regular diners. Luu is a self-taught chef, who works his magic behind the scenes.
Open since 1988, China Ruby went through a few lean years before the hip crowd discovered “Fashionable Ferndale.” Now, the Chinese restaurant is a fixture and blessed with an ideal location. It’s a short distance from the funky retail stores, cafes, bars, bookstores, ethnic restaurants and other businesses that make the city of Ferndale a fun destination.
China Ruby’s well-executed, reasonably priced food has brought it the title of “Best Chinese” and “Best Chinese Carryout” in several diner/media surveys through the years.
“We keep the prices right for the customer,” said Co, noting that China Ruby’s 26 combination platters come with a choice of three soups, plus egg roll and plain fried rice. Priced at $7.95 to $9.50, two diners can enjoy a full meal for less than $20. The same entrees ordered as a “plate” come with plain white rice only and range from $6.50 to $7.95.
Perusing the dinner menu, categories include beef, chicken, seafood, fried rice, chop suey, lo mein (soft noodle) and vegetable. Nine choices are in the latter group, including Vegetable with Black Bean or Hot Bean Sauce, Szechuan Vegetable, and Moo Shu Vegetable with Five Pancakes.
At dinner, $12.95 is the top price for a quart of either Yu-Shan Scallop in Garlic Sauce or Hunan Scallop. The entrees come with white rice. Twelve of the 16 “house specialties” are marked as hot and spicy, including Kung Pao Shrimp and Chicken, and Hunan Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce.
My favorite entree is General Tso’s Chicken, lightly breaded chicken pieces stir-fried in a sweet-spicy sauce with broccoli. I also recommend China Ruby’s Curry Shrimp and Garlic Chicken. Among the appetizers, Crab and Cheese Wonton and Pot Stickers (fried dumplings) are popular at six to an order for $1.85.
China Ruby does a large carryout business and offers a full catering menu. Open daily except Monday, hours are 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
A striking painting of thundering horses and some small Asian artifacts break up the plain white walls alongside a row of booths. The most memorable features of the decor are the gold Laughing Buddha statues on the check-out counter. According to legend, rubbing the Laughing Buddha’s great belly brings forth wealth, good luck and prosperity. Give it a try, if you like!
157 W. Nine Mile Road
Ferndale, MI 48220
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