World flavor

. January 9, 2013.

Passport Restaurant & Lounge
3776 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone: 734-222-1111
Hours: Mon – Wed 11am–11pm; Thurs – Sat
11am – midnight; Sun 4pm–11pm

“Shh,” my husband instructed. Our kids, ages seven and three, were oblivious and kept chattering. We were settling into a booth at Passport Restaurant and Lounge, which opened this fall on State St. just south of I-94. Our kids were not that loud, but the cavernous main dining room and the small crowd on a Sunday night seemed to amplify every sound. I felt a bit conspicuous with my small children, surrounded by nothing but other
adult patrons. 

Passport offers free kids’ meals on Sundays, which is why we decided to dine there that night. Other nights of the week the restaurant hosts special events, such as ballroom dancing, live jazz and magicians, so maybe it is noisier then. The interior of the restaurant was decorated in gold and brown hues and exuded an Asian feel, perhaps because the space was previously a Japanese restaurant. We were seated in the elegant, large main dining room, although our family also would have been comfortable in the restaurant’s casual lounge with TVs and a dance floor.

I was excited to try the food at Passport, which promised international fusion cuisine. The Passport owners also operate two Lucky Kitchen Chinese
restaurants, which have a good reputation. Browsing the dinner menu I noticed Asian, Italian, and American influences along with two pages of sushi selections. The culinary adventure was not limited to adults, either, as the children’s menu touted mac and cheese, Chinese chicken nuggets, California rolls, spaghetti, and quesadillas, all served with fries and fresh fruit. 

We started with the tropical crab creation, a mixture of crab, peppers, chives, and béchamel sauce, coated in shredde filo and fl ash fried, served with mango salsa and spiced mango coulis. I bet that didn’t come from a mix! It was excellent, with a nice balance of crab and sweetness. 

When our main course arrived, its presentation was outstanding, with gorgeous colors and an artful display. I started to understand why entrees averaged $20. My portion of East Coast Cedar Salmon was generous and I found it moist yet flaky. The honey glaze perfectly complimented the sweet curry almond rice on the side. The julienned zucchini served with the meal had a nice crunch and a hint of pepper.

 My husband also liked the vegetables and his scalloped potatoes, which he chose in lieu of rice. His 8 oz. Mongolian beef tenderloin was mouthwatering and juicy, even when cooked well done as he requested.

 After the Top Chef-worthy presentation of our meals, it was almost ironic to see the kids’ meals. Their mac and cheese was clearly from a Kraft blue box. The kids didn’t mind, though. Their small servings of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries were quickly devoured and most of their fries were gobbled up. For the record, kids’ meals ranged from $6 to $7 and included a drink. 

We finished with chocolate wasabi cheesecake because it sounded too interesting to pass up. It was good, like anything chocolate, but not fantastic. I could not taste the wasabi that our server assured us was in the crust. Perhaps the chocolate mousse tower that my son begged us to get would have been more exciting. 

All in all, we dined on good cuisine infused with fl avors from around the world. If you and your family are ready for an international culinary adventure, and your pocketbook is feeling frisky, then give Passport Restaurant a try.


Kid-friendly More yes than no
To avoid wait Friday nights are busiest when they offer live jazz
Noise level It depends. Sunday night was quiet, but nights when they have a jazz band or a DJ are probably louder.
Bathroom amenities very clean with changing stations
High chairs Yes
Got milk Yes
Kids’ menu Yes
Anything healthy for kids Fresh fruit is offered with every kid’s meal
Food allergy concerns Some dishes include nuts or shellfish. Notify your server or call ahead to speak with the manager.

Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer from Saline.