Location: Champaign, IL
Let's skip right to the chase. Golden Harbor has a new Top 10 dish in Champaign-Urbana. It was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.
Last week a good friend was leaving town. We wanted to take him out to eat, and my default choice for good, inexpensive food is Cravings. However, we were in downtown Champaign, and since all involved were self described foodies, we decided to try Golden Harbor instead.
Flash back four years - a close friend recommended I try Golden Harbor, but he warned me that I should go with someone who speaks Chinese because the good parts of the menu are only in Chinese. I never worked up the gusto to go. Last weekend I regretted that decision.
We past the Golden Harbor parking lot because the awnings were covered in snow and there is no other signage. I almost missed my chance again, but we circled around and Google Maps showed us the way.
Upon arriving we were pleasantly surprised to see most (maybe all) of the menu translated (recently?) into English. There is some strange numbering system leading me to believe they have about 1,000 different choices. I'm generally not a fan of big menus. Why not make a few things and make them right - Black Dog, Maize, and Turoni's come to mind.
As a table we ordered the spicy baby squid (not my call), fried duck and taro, steamed buns with pork belly, and fried tofu. I'll go from the bottom up.
4. Spicy Baby Squid - I don't like the texture of squid and this was just too hot. It was palatable and I can see how others like it, kind of like Pulp Fiction, but it wasn't for me.
3. Fried Duck - This was really good for two or three bites, but overall it was too strong of a earthy duck flavor.
2. Fried Tofu - This was for my daughter. She loved it. It tasted like crab rangoon without the imitation crab flavor - a little sweet and a little crunchy.
1. Steamed buns with pork belly - This is the creme de la creme of Asian food for me. I loved steamed buns when we were in Singapore and ever since trying pork belly at black dog a few years ago, it's been at the top of my list. This dish is a make your own pork belly sandwich. Get out! The steamed buns are sliced sandwich style, then you are provided a small mound of pork belly pieces to place in said bun. The sandwich toppings are fresh cilantro, pickled vegetables, and crushed peanuts. Combine the softness of the steamed bun, the salty of the pork, and the tang of the cilantro and vegetables and it's time for a nap. If I hadn't devoured so much so fast I would have taken a picture. Next time, there will definitely be a next time.