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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Asian Fusion on a Budget

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Being downtown has its perks. There is always some event to go to, the people watching is awesome and there are restaurants all over. While a multitude of choices may be great for people who like variety, it’s hell for someone who, like myself, has indecisive taste buds. This weekend, my mom and I hung out all day going from event to event, Fall Fest at the Central Library, a Spirit and Place gathering at 37 Place and a family get together that night. All that driving made us hungry, and we debated about what to eat. Then I remembered a new Asian spot had just opened downtown. We decided to give it a shot. 

Asian Harbor, which just celebrated its grand opening, is an Asian-fusion restaurant in the Axis building on Michigan Street adjacent to Marsh supermarket. The outside, decked out in colorful paper lanterns and neon signage, reminds you of your average takeout spot — you know, the one that has pictures of the menu items on the wall, illuminated by fluorescent bulbs? Immediately inside, there is a large golden Buddha perched atop an end table, just begging for its shiny belly to be rubbed. 

The interior is a bit more subdued and chic, with black seating throughout and geisha paintings adorning the walls. The menu featured the canon of westernized Asian fare: beef and broccoli, orange chicken, moo goo gai pan as well as sushi and other lighter options for the health-conscious patron. 

When it came time to order, I was torn between the Maki lunch special (two sushi rolls and soup or salad) or the lunch combination special (soup appetizer and an entree served with chicken fried rice, crab rangoon, spring roll and four pieces of sushi). I ultimately decided on the General Tso’s special (basic, I know.), and my mom had teriyaki shrimp. The entrees arrived in cute little bento boxes, and we were given a perfect portion of each item. My General Tso’s chicken was very tasty, and it was by far the best thing on my plate. The rice was good, but a tad bit underseasoned. I added soy sauce, and that helped. As a warning, go easy on the soy. I was a bit too overzealous, and my rice was salty as a result. The chicken in the dish was little slices of white meat, and they stuck out as a fairly obvious afterthought. The meat was bland and offered nothing in the way of palatability, so I picked each piece out. The crab rangoon was average — plenty of cream cheese, very little crab — but still tasty. I was indifferent to the sushi (made with imitation crab, avocado and rice) and spring roll (simple vegetarian with cabbage and carrots), but they weren’t terrible. 

Asian Harbor is a solid choice for someone looking to eat decently on a moderate budget. My total came to under $20 for the two of us — very rare for a sit-down establishment in that neighborhood, but not uncommon for the eatery, as many of the menu options (outside specialty sushi rolls) are under $10. If you’re around downtown, I’d definitely suggest you give this place a try.  

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