As Restaurant Week continues, so shall our coverage of delicious foods we’ve eaten. On Saturday, I made it out to The Crossing in Champaign for the specials at 83 Vietnamese. For Restaurant Week, the mom-and-son restaurant threw out the regular menu and created an impressive slate of 12 new, from-scratch dishes just for RW 2024.
I love the banh mi at 83 Vietnamese (so does Xiaohui and Matt), which regularly has char sui (slow roasted pork) for the protein. Exclusive for Restaurant Week, the banh mi sandwich has thick-sliced pork belly plus the usual toppings: pickled carrots and daikon, mayonnaise, fresh cucumbers, cilantro sprigs, and de-seeded jalapeño. Pork belly is one of my favorite foods, and it’s pretty much why I went to 83 Vietnamese this week. And I was not disappointed. I ordered the Restaurant Week banh mi ($14), and the special pork belly was tender, caramelized, and tasted amazing, practically melting in my mouth. As I ate, the baguette rained bread crumbs everywhere, but I didn’t care. That delicious pork belly was so delicious — highly recommend.
I also ordered the appetizer of Asian calamari ($12). The fried calamari was not chewy at all, just wonderfully tender and delicious. The light, crisp batter had a nice seasoning and tasted so good with the succulent squid. I loved dipping the hot calamari (with some chopped lettuce, too) in the cold vinegar dip.
To drink, I ordered the Vietnamese coffee ($5), which is not a RW special; it’s always on the menu. This iced coffee’s flavor was smooth and yummy, no doubt thanks to the sweetened condensed milk, making it sip like a dessert.
Also I ordered the hot braised beef ($20), a special for Restaurant Week. The sliced beef was battered, flash-fried, and topped with a from-scratch brown sauce served over a big portion of steamed rice with a side salad of lettuce, cucumber, carrots, daikon, and cauliflower. The beef’s crunchy batter surrounded super tender, delicious savory steak. And that housemade sauce was fantastic: spicy and sweet and sparingly drizzled atop so most of the beef remained crunchy. The steamed rice was perfectly cooked to soft and absorbed sauce like it was its job.
Lastly, because there were special desserts, too, I ordered the Restaurant Week trio of steamed buns ($6). Made in house and served warm, the steamed buns each had a different center: lotus root, red bean, and yellow bean. The red bean steamed bun was good, and the lotus root had a smooth, sticky texture with a tasty caramel-like sweetness. But I fell in love with the yellow sweet bun. I’d never had yellow bean paste before, and its lovely fruitiness tasted kind of like pineapple to me. If I ever see any food again with yellow bean, I know now to order it.
All Restaurant Week, 83 Vietnamese will offer appetizers of shumai, steamed pork belly buns, fried shrimp spring rolls, and calamari in addition to rice specials and special soups. Next week, the regular menu will be back, so if any of this sounds appetizing, don’t miss. The RW menu here is for dine in only (no takeout) and only available through Saturday, February 3rd.
2502 Village Green Place
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.