Jie’s Good Tasting

chinese restaurant grandview

Chinese
1413 Grandview Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 824-4657

In the former Grandview location of two short lived businesses – Yogi’s pierogis and Yi’s Bento Express – a new Chinese restaurant, Jie’s Good Tasting, has opened. They have 24 seats for dining in, though due to the cramped accommodations and chaotic, disorganized service, they’re probably best suited to take out.

Despite these caveats, there is a good reason to visit Jie’s, namely homemade dumplings that are easily some of the best in town. Ignore the menu and ask which flavors they have, as the menu is not necessarily representative of much of anything if our visits are any indication. On our last trip there were four types available: San Xian (our favorite so far – a mix of pork, shrimp and chive), pork and napa cabbage, pork and pickled cabbage (our number 2 pick) and pork and celery. 16 come to an order, they’re priced in the $7-8 range, and are served with a pleasant soy/vinegar dipping sauce. What makes them good is the thick but tender wrapper and the juicy and flavorful fillings. They go quickly.

IMG_0509

Also worth ordering are the dumplings in hot and sour soup and the spicy dumplings (smaller portion of 8 dumplings) pictured behind.

chinese dumplings columbus

The pan fried pork buns seemed to be popular with the large groups of Chinese students frequenting Jie’s but we found them a little too chewy and thought that the bread to filling ratio erred too far on the bread side.

IMG_0510

The menu offers a lot of the standard American Chinese take-out dishes (General Tso is present and accounted for) and a few more interesting choices. We enjoyed both the cumin chicken and the cumin beef. Both dishes are moderately spicy, fragrant with cumin and comprise chunks of meat with fried potatoes. Steamed rice must be requested separately.

IMG_0511

The za’ jing noodles, similar to Korean jajagmyun noodles, are boiled noodles served with a black bean sauce and here with your choice of tofu or shrimp.

IMG_0526

The tomato and egg soup claims to be made with homemade noodles but on the day we visited we were skeptical of the claim.

Jie's good tasting

If you love dumplings like we do, then a trip to Jie’s is worthwhile… just set your service expectations low. On both visits we found them to be more or less unfamiliar with diners basic expectations (flatware, water, bowls for soup etc).

Hass

wood fired grill columbus

Cuisine: Mexican
7370 Sawmill Road, 43235
(614) 760-0155
Facebook

Simply put, Hass is good, solid, real-deal Mexican in a part of town that is largely lacking. Nestled between Anna’s and Sunflower in a strip center on Sawmill Rd. just north of 270, it operates as a (surprisingly refined) dining room that is semi-attached to a Mexican market (La Favorita). If there’s one thing we’ve learned in researching alt.eats restaurants, the restaurant-market connection gives us reason for heightened expectations.

mexican restaurants dublin ohio

Expectations met by Hass’s wood fired grill. The flavor of the carne asada (steak) coming off of it is definitely a cut above, especially in the ‘papas calientes’ – a grilled/baked potato that has been sliced open and flattened, and covered with the aforementioned asada, plus bacon, mushrooms, onions, cheese and salsa. It’s like alambres atop a buttery baked potato, and this is a good thing.

Mexican wood grilled potatoes

The selection of tacos is reasonable, with a fair range of options. Fans of spit-roasted al pastor should find contentment here – it’s a solid and enjoyable rendition that doesn’t (yet?) quite meet the lofty benchmark established by Los Guachos. Fish and shrimp tacos are good, as is the vegetarian taco (taco verde), filled with cactus, potatoes and melted cheese, known as the taco verde.

Burritos and tortas are also available, as are a variety of daily specials. Tostadas are freshly made.

Hass wood grilled tacos

Hass is very new, and in speaking with the owner he admitted that there are some kinks to work out with service and the like. In our experience this was true, though it was nothing major, and we wouldn’t let it deter you from checking it out if your in the area.

Charritos Mexican Grill

New Mexican restaurant in Upper Arlington

Cuisine: Mexican
4740 Reed Road #103
Columbus, 43220
614.929.5866

The opening of a new Mexican restaurant typically merits the same attention as the opening of a new Subway, and with good reason – if you’ve had it anywhere else, you’ve almost certainly had what the new place has to offer. The code of the American ‘Mexican’ food palate has long ago been broken, and the resulting template is impressively well established locally.

Charritos, however, bucks the trend. Sure, you can find sizzling fajitas, but you can also get real, street-style tripa and lengua tacos, or even a tlayuda. Even Mexico City-style spit roasted al pastor is on offer.

Mexican restaurants in Columbus

In other words, it’s true Mexican food with the occasional nod to more dominant local sensibilities. And, it’s quite good, which is unsurprising – as we understand it, the owner and his family run several restaurants under the same name in his native Oaxaca.

We first caught wind of this place when a friend suggested that the al pastor was better than at Los Guachos. Yeah, that’ll get our attention. We tried it in a chicana, which is a politically correct naming alternative to Guachos’ gringa, and we had to agree that it was damned solid rendition. The al pastor was impressively tender, nicely flavored, but lacked the flame kissed crusty bits that put Guachos over the top… at least on our visit. Beyond that, it was pure classic gringa/chicana satisfaction through and through.

Chicana at Charritos Mexican Grill

The tlayuda was a pleasant surprise, first because they had it at all (it was a special) and second because it was so different than what we’ve found elsewhere in town. The shell was distinctly unique – thicker, crisper, and overall better. The local preference for chorizo was not recognized, and a seriously tender asada took its place. Black beans coated the shell as usual, but a smattering of white beans finished it off on top. It’s a solid alternative to the more common (as in, two places carry it…) version.

Charritos clayuda

Ditto for the tripa, and the lengua, and on and on. The flautas were particularly enjoyable, stuffed with what appeared to be tinga-style chicken. The caldo de mariscos has never been my favorite dish, but it was at least as good here as anywhere.

flautas at Charritos Mexican Grill

In other words, Upper Arlington just got a taco truck cleverly disguised as a strip mall restaurant. Use it as such, and enjoy taco truck quality food in the comfort of a warm dining room this winter.

El Pollo Loco

New Peruvian restaurant in Columbus

727 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228
614.754.6769

El Pollo Loco is a new – as in, opened yesterday (10/19/13) – Peruvian restaurant on the west side specializing in Peruvian charcoal-grilled rotisserie chicken or pollo a la brasa. If you had been to the late, lamented Fito’s on campus, you’ve almost certainly had a very similar style of chicken. Word to the wise – if you liked it there, you’ll almost certainly love it here.

pollo a la brasa in Columbus

The menu lists a wide range of options, but upon opening the chicken was just about all that was on offer, at least as far as entrees go. We did try an order of the salchipapas (french fries with thinly sliced hotdogs), and the papas a la huancayna (cold boiled potato slices in a creamy garlic sauce). Both are pleasant enough, though far from a reason to make a special trip.

el pollo loco peruvian chicken in Columbus

The special trip-worthiness comes from the chicken, which is incredibly moist and tender and wonderfully seasoned.

columbus peruvian food

El Pollo Loco also features a selection of Latin American sodas, including Inka Kola and Kola Inglesa, as well as some house-made beverages. The chicha morada, described as a purple corn drink, was particularly pleasant and had an interesting fruity, cinnamon flavor.

L’Appat Patisserie Cafe

L’Appat Patisserie Café
1159 Oak St.
(614) 252-6822
Website

L’Appat Patisserie in Olde Towne East is best known for its sweet treats, but owner Didier Alapini, has started offering a Pan-African day menu every Thursday. Didier is from Benin in West Africa but his weekly Pan-African menus span the continent from Morocco to South Africa and include all kinds of dishes. Here’s the menu from last week’s inaugural Pan-African day.

african food in columbus ohio

The menu will change every Thursday. Each week’s menu is posted in advance on their Facebook page.

“Panafrican Day” Menu (Thursday, October 3rd 2013)

Soupe du jour
Sweet Potato Soup (Zambia) $4.00
Creamy sweet potatoes, rice, fresh herbs, and spice soup

Sandwich du jour

N’Djamena Chicken Sandwich (Chad) $10.00
Sautéed chicken and bacon, in gruyère spinach sauce on ciabatta loaf, served with roasted potatoes

Entrees: (The first price is lunch and the second is dinner).

Black Olive Salad (Sudan) $9.00 $11.00 (with soup)
Mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives with citrus vinaigrette.

Moussaka á la mauricienne (Mauritus Island) $13.00 $15.00
Lamb, beef and eggplant lasagna in eggplant sauce with salad and garlic bread

Dakouin (Benin) $11.00 $13.00
Grilled leg quarter with fresh tomato, green pepper and onion sauce served with Gari porridge

Fish Boulettes (Morocco) $13.00 $15.00
Fish meatballs in sweet peppers and onion sauce, served over vegetable rice

Here are a couple of the dishes that we enjoyed last week. Pavlova beef with a spicy peanut and spinach sauce, served with sweet potatoes and plantain. This Ghanaian dish was available hot or mild and the hot version definitely had a kick.

IMG_9223

Beef steak du nomade from niger – a panini style sandwich with suya beef steak and cheese. This was served with a large plate of roasted vegetables and potatoes.

IMG_9226

L’Appat is also offering a seafood night on Fridays.

Seafood Night Menu
September – October Special

(Every Friday Night only: 6:00pm -8:30pm)

Soupe du jour $5.50

*Salade Seychelloise $16.00
Shrimp, sweet corn, bell pepper and spring mix tossed in spicy vinaigrette
*Dish served with Seafood Barquettes and soupe du jour

Seafood Brik $22.00
Shrimp, sword fish, crab and vegetable in filo dough served with salad

Frites au poisson $18.00
Whole grilled Tilapia served with oven fried potatoes and salad

If you haven’t been to L’Appat we definitely encourage you to check it out. They have a really interesting (and good) assortment of pastries, cookies and cakes. The cafe is a nice light space, open for breakfast and lunch and their regular lunch menu includes soups, sandwiches and salads.

Lotte

Korean Market columbus ohio

Cuisine: Korean
4944 N High St, Columbus, 43214
614.885.3232
Facebook
Tuesday -Saturday 11-8pm (last order 7.30pm)

I have a sneaking suspicion that Korean restaurants are trying to hide from us.
The whole idea behind strip malls is that every storefront faces the parking lot, but Silla somehow manages to be tucked away behind a bar, accessible only by going down a forbidding path between the walls of two buildings. Arirang, another strip mall location, is a grocery with a restaurant in the back. You could shop the entire retail space without even knowing that the (essentially walled off) dining area existed. A solid restaurant with a primarily Korean menu on north campus hides in plain sight behind the name ‘Japanese Oriental Restaurant’. And, finally, does anyone remember the Korean restaurant on Lane & High in the ’90’s? It was stuck so far back in a building that the only way to get there was by going down a dank, dimly neon lit, vaguely Blade Runner-esque corridor.
lotte korean food columbus
Now there’s Lotte, an established Korean grocery with a new secret. Towards the back of their sizable retail area there’s an entry to a storage room. Enter, and you’ll see sacks of rice piled high among various other palleted goods. And a door. Enter that, and you’ll find their shiny new restaurant. And, if you’ve actually made it this far, chances are you’ve made your first mistake; you order at the grocery checkout, and take the receipt – which is your order ticket – to the employee working the counter in the restaurant.
lotte oriental food restaurant
The dining area is bright, clean, cramped, and no-frills. Like Arirang, water is self-serve from a dispenser and utensils are stored on boxes at the tables. Also like Arirang, the menu is small and largely focuses on better known Korean favorites, such as bulgogi, bibimbop, and kimbop. Service was brisk, and our orders arrived quickly.
korean grocery store columbus
All were solid, if not exceptional… at least until you factor in the pricing. Our group of 7 ordered the entire menu, ate almost to the point of bursting, took home leftovers, and paid just over $50 for the whole spread.
this is what happens when you order the whole menu
I’m tempted to think of it Korean fast food – it’s not the best, but it’s fast, cheap, and will take the edgy off of any Korean cravings.
lotte oriental new restaurant
Lotte probably has the widest selection of the three dedicated Korean markets in Columbus, including a large selection of prepared foods and banchan dishes. The staff are also helpful.
korean ingredients columbus
One last note – #5 on the menu is not translated into English, and it’s what we believe to be a regional Korean spin on kalbi tang stew (Woogeoji galbitang – beef rib and cabbage soup with soybean paste). This is the only place we’ve seen it in Columbus, and it’s a deeply vegetal beef broth soup with generous chunks of beef. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.

korean beef rib and cabbage soup

Kolache Republic

kolache republic Columbus

Cuisine: Czech/Slovak by way of Mid-America.

730 S. High St @ Frankfort
Mon-Fri 7am-2pm, Sat 8am-3pm. Closed on Sundays.
614.928.3151
Website
Facebook
Twitter

So, kolaches. Texans assert that they’re a Texas thing. Minnesotans may claim that they’re spelled ‘kolacky’, and have dubbed Montgomery, Minnesota the ‘kolacky capital of the world’. Iowans… well, they make claims, too… yeah, thanks for the input, Iowa.

Czechs and Slovaks undoubtedly find this Yankee bluster cute, and as best as anyone can tell, are the actual originators of the pastry.

About the only thing anyone could reasonably agree upon is that Columbus has no claim to involvement with this promiscuous pastry, or at least, that is, up to now.

kolache republic

Kolaches are apparently the kind of thing people get homesick for, so with Columbus’s significant transplant population, it was only a matter of time before someone arrived with the fix. Enter Kolache Republic, a tidy new little cafe on South High in the Brewery District.

kolaches in columbus

For the uninitiated, kolaches come in two basic forms (and people with too much time on their hands even bicker about this, but never mind) – square sweets, and elongated savories. Both begin with a light, pillowy, white flour pastry. The sweets are topped, somewhat like a danish, with any of a variety of fillings, with the blueberry and lemon curd being among our favorites. The savories are filled with a delicious kielbasa or ‘hot hot hot polish’, come in 3 flavors, and take a form not unlike a pig in a blanket.

columbus kolache republic

We’ve enjoyed both varieties, both here and at the food cart of the same name that came before. They’re absolutely destination worthy, especially when paired with some of their Cafe Brioso based coffee drinks.

But Kolache Republic has something we like even more. Something that’s served as a special, that we wish were always available. Something that’s not a kolache. That item is the runza.

runza at Kolache Republic

Nebraska claims this dish, though the Germans deserve the credit. Yep, another one of those things. It’s a larger bun, something along the lines of 6″ in diameter, perhaps made with the same dough as the kolaches, filled with seasoned sauerkraut and ground beef. That may not scan like something that’d generate excitement, but I’d encourage you to give it a go. My wife thought it sounded unpleasant, but upon seeing mine begged for a bite and thereafter pronounced it delicious.

Solid sides and a sandwich are also available, making Kolache Republic an ideal lunch stop. Do check ‘em out!