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A Taste of the Region: New Kahala

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- If you're looking for good Chinese food, many locals know to get their fill at New Kahala.

That's where dishes like General Tso's chicken and orange chicken have become favorites.

But New 3's Brooke Schlyer asked William Lo, the general manager whose parents started the restaurant 27 years ago, to serve up some of the lesser-known menu items.

Lo had her start off with an appetizer of pork belly sliders.

The buns are steamed and then STUFFED with chunks of marinated pork belly.

It's topped with pickled greens, crushed peanuts, and chives.

Lo, who started and maintains the Southern Illinois Eats Facebook Page, says it's the Chinese-version of comfort food.

"It's kind of fatty, it's got the breading that kind of soaks it all up," he explains.

Brooke then sampled her first entree, the peppered steak.

It's sauteed steak, peppers, and onions in a dark brown sauce.

Lo says vegetables are freshly cut and all dishes are made to order.

"Nothing sits under a warmer, so sometimes the wait time is a little long, Lo explains. "That's because every order that comes in, they cook the meat and veggies on the spot."

Next, Brooke tried Egg Fu Yung, which is an Indonesian-inspired dish.

To prepare Egg Fu Yung, oil is heated in a wok. Eggs, onion and a protein are then boiled in the oil using a ladle as the mold.

When the dish is completely cooked, it's topped with sauce and scallions.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Lo presented Brooke with sesame pork.

He says not many other restaurants have sesame pork on its menu because it's one of his dad's own specialties.

It's thin slices of pork in a spicy and sweet sauce that's different from sesame chicken.

"Pork is fattier so you need a different sauce for it, to make it stand out," Lo explains.

Brooke's Pick:

All the dishes at New Kahala were fresh and delicious, but I would definitely recommend the pork belly sliders. The bun was light and fluffy, and the pork belly was savory. That had a nice contrast with the pickled mustard greens on top.

As for the entree, you have to try the sesame pork. It's unlike any other sesame dish I've ever had before. Normally I split some of the leftovers with my photog, but this one was difficult to share (sorry, Carson). The pork was lightly battered in a UNIQUE sweet and spicy sauce.

Brooke Schlyer

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